Saturday, February 26, 2011

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Victoria Skurnick

Victoria Skurnick came to Levine Greenberg after being at The Book-of-the Month Club for almost twenty years. As Editor-in-Chief, she relished the opportunity to devour every kind of book, from the finest literary fiction to Yiddish for Dogs. Anne Tyler, John LeCarre, Amy Tan, Tom Wolfe, Stephen King, Michael Lewis, Lee Child, Roddy Doyle, Alice Sebold, Tracy Kidder, Julia Child and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are just a few of the authors that make her deaf and blind to anyone around her when she's reading.

Victoria's other addiction besides reading is music. She has sung in many choirs in New York City and spent a few ostensibly happy years singing rock in groups like Big and the Evolution. No, you haven't heard of it-if you had, she wouldn't be an agent. She also is the co-author (with Cynthia Katz) of seven novels written by "Cynthia Victor."

Raised in New Rochelle, NY, Victoria went to the University of Wisconsin where she studied political science with an emphasis on constitutional law, a subject that still fascinates her. Neither adventurous nor peripatetic, she has remained within a 20-mile radius of home since her day of birth.

As always, for more information about Victoria Skurnick and other literary agents, check out my friend Casey McCormick's amazing blog, Literary Rambles.

And now Victoria Skurnick faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

So difficult to do this. I’ll ignore my clients and say Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler, and Atonement, by Ian McEwan.

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

Letterman, Notorious, and War Games.

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

Talented, punctual, inner-directed, kind.

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

I love all kinds of books, but a great novel that is thoughtful, intelligent, rich, and entertaining is the most exciting submission.

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

My favorite thing about being an agent is being my own boss, not working for a corporation. Least favorite? I guess the ups and downs of successfully selling a book. Though that is probably what makes it so exciting.

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)

If publishing professionals tell you something, it’s likely to be true; your friends, on the other hand, are most unlikely to be trustworthy in their stated opinions (at least as they state them to you!). Also, when you send in a manuscript, make sure it’s as error-free as possible, check spelling and grammar. Both agents and editors are looking for ways to say no quickly in this tough literary climate, so don’t give them an easy out.

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

When George Clooney writes a memoir, he’ll be the author I want to eat with. Why? The obvious, I’m afraid.

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