Saturday, July 24, 2010

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Joanna Volpe

Joanna represents all brands of fiction, from picture books to adult. She has an affinity for stories that have a darker, grittier element to them, whether they be horror, drama or comedy. Her recent publications include The Sharpest Blade by Sandy Williams (Ace), Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books), Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton (Paula Wiseman Books), Erased by Jennifer Rush (Little Brown Books for Young Readers), and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt).

Joanna is currently on the lookout for solid fiction in the following genres: women's fiction, thriller, horror, speculative fiction, literary fiction and historical fiction. Joanna prefers her stories dark, in tone, style and even in humor. Some recent reads that she enjoyed are: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn,World War Z by Max Brooks, The Breach by Patrick Lee, and The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas.

In terms of the juvenile market, Joanna would love to find (Young Adult) horror, dark high fantasy, or literary novels; (Middle Grade) all genres (Picture Book) art-focused, 200-500 words. Joanna is NOT looking for: chapter books, text-only picture book submissions, hard science fiction. 

She is a sucker for sushi, chihuahuas, pizza, good whiskey, Zelda, movie popcorn, and anything green. But not all at once. And she appreciates a good prank. 

Joanna Volpe was kind enough to write a guest post for this blog about her love of Middle Grade

As always, I recommend checking out Casey McCormick's wonderful blog for more information.

And now Joanna Volpe faces the 7 Questions:

WARNING: New Leaf Literary has engaged in some poor practices that have negatively impacted a number of authors. I and other authors I know have had very negative experiences with this agency. Query at your own risk.

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Wow...almost impossible. I'll narrow it down to my 3 favorite middle grades (no, make it 6...I just...I just can't!).

1-The View from Saturday

2-Wayside School is Falling Down

3-Harry Potter

4-Diary of a Wimpy Kid


6-The BFG

I'm missing so many more on there because I *love* Michael Buckley, Brandon Mull, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Richard Peck (plus more I'm probably forgetting). Seriously, this question is just downright unfair! :-)

Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?

Okay, I'm going to be the jerk that gives a really looooong answer to this. But I have a reason!

Since I grew up in a movie theater, it's impossible to pinpoint just a few favorite movies because so many were so important to pivotal moments in my life. I remember sitting on the steps to the projection booth, watching Jurassic Park and Shawshank Redemption over and over while my dad worked the weekends. I love those films. And I can still pick up at any point of the movie and watch them again. But I'm also a huge LOTR buff, and I've seen the original Star Wars movies more times than I can count. I'm also a big fan of clever, fun, feel good movies like Love Actually or Never Been Kissed. And I'm a *huge* fan of dark comedies or quirky movies like Lars and the Real Girl, Rushmore, or Being John Malkovich. Anything by Wes Anderson or Tarantino I will go see, without question. I love action films too! Big blockbuster types are always a good time (The Expendables looks awesome!). Oooo, and foreign films with a speculative aspect are some of my favorites too (Pan's Labyrinth, Let the Right One In). And I like to be scared. I will watch a good scary movie over and over. I saw 28 Days Later in the theater over 20 times. I mean, I was also working at the theater at the time too, so I could afford to do that, but still...scared the CRAP out of me the first few times! And I guess if we're talking kid films...The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride (also love this book!), The Sandlot, and for teens--I think Empire Records is one of the best.

I don't watch as much TV, and the shows I love the most tend to get canceled, leaving me in mourning for good TV for months: Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, Arrested Development, Family Guy (that one came back--woot!), and the tried and true: The Simpsons. I watched a ton of Buffy and Saved by the Bell growing up, too.

I'm sorry I went outside your guidelines! But I always feel like answers to these define you in a way, and there is no way I can pick just three that define me. Impossible! The same goes for books!

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?

Enthusiastic about reading and writing...and above all, patient and realistic!

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?

If we're talking middle grade...I'm open to anything. It's my favorite genre, hands down.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing is all of the reading I get to do! My least favorite thing is when I have to remind myself that this is a business and make some tough decisions (this includes rejections, parting ways with clients, etc).

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Remember that everything you write is important, even the stories that will never see the light of day. Each one you learn from and it gets you to the next. It's okay to put something in the trunk to work on something else. Every author I know has trunked stories.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

J.R.R. Tolkien. He's a genius, a scholar, and an eccentric--I'd love to chat with him.


  1. My son was reading the interview over my shoulder and said, "Hey, that's Joanna! She's awesome!"

    She most certainly is.

    Great interview, MG Ninja! I really enjoy visiting your site.

  2. "Certified awesome sauce"--YES!!!

    Jo's answer to your movie question is making me want to sit alone in a dark room with a ton of popcorn and watch movies for HOURS!!

    Great interview!



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