Saturday, September 17, 2011

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Terrie Wolf

Terrie has traveled the world in search of good stories and great books. As a member of the international media and award-winning writing and promotions teams, Terrie remains honored to have actually made coffee at such venues as CBS, NBC, and Hobson’s Press UK. Her ever-curious nature led her on long-term assignment with Cambridge City Council and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. While her writing credits include the EMMY, Queen's Service Award (UK), La Voz y Papel (Spain), and Young Journalist of the Year, and her studies were completed at Cambridge, NYU and CU-Denver, Terrie lists her most coveted award as that of “Master of Mirth” given by Ringling Bros. Clown College. She joined Anita Kushen and Associates in 2009 as the Foreign Rights Specialist and acquired the agency in 2010.

AKA represents the books we long to share and the books which make us grow. Currently, Terrie is seeking: well-written MG/YA fiction (especially fantasy, historical and action/adventure) and nonfiction (especially biography and teen pop-culture).   Terrie specializes in: Empowerment, Children’s (all age groups – F/NF), Romance, MG/YA, Westerns, Women’s, Multi-Cultural  and a variety of Nonfiction.

Ms. Wolf’s MG/YA clients include:  Louise Caiola (Wishless: L and L), Tasha Cotter, Kevin T. Craig (Summer on Fire: Muse It Up), Carrie Filetti, CJ Dunham, Katie Lyons, and Robert Spiller (The Bonnie Pinkwater Series: Medallion Press). She also represents clients who write within other genres, such as Dr. Cynthia Koelker (101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care: PLUME), Philip Berk (Letting the Light In: Llewellyn), Christian Piatt (PregMANcy: A Dad, A Little Dude and a Due Date: Chalice Press- 2012), and Johnny Knew (The Tree With No Branches: Cutie Pie Publishing - 2012).

As always, for more information about Terri Wolf and other literary agents, I highly recomend my friends Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre's wonderful blog, Literary Rambles.

And now Terri Wolf faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

I’m sharing MG and almost-YA favorites.

- The Laura Ingalls Wilder books: When I was 12, my parents gave me the entire collection. It still sits happily on a shelf in my office.

- The works of Neil Gaiman (especially Blueberry Girl and The Graveyard Book).

- Helen Lester’s A Porcupine Named Fluffy and Three Cheers for Tacky. I give a copy of these books to every kid I know as they transition from middle school to high school, and even though Lester’s work is considered to be for children, I think it’s pretty deep. Five year-olds think it’s funny, 12 year-olds identify with the relevance of quiet life lessons.

- Honorable Mention: The works of S.E. Hinton: I was such a tomboy – the fact that this girl wrote as a guy was just too cool for me! And, of course, I’d get in trouble if I didn’t mention Dr. Seuss: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – I shamelessly quote this book – almost daily. Sorry, that’s a few more than three!

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

- Movies: Babe (1995), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), and Homeward Bound (1993).

- TV: I still watch Touched by an Angel on the Hallmark Channel (honest!), absolutely love Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Jeopardy. I’ve “competed” it at least once a week with my kids since they were in elementary school…scary how much more they know than me!

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

If I had to choose three words, I’d choose six. They’d be:

Intelligence, involvement and innocence. Humor, humility and honor. I love the author who makes me think, who strives to do more than their best and who manages – especially within MG/YA – to do it with a voice that’s sweet and totally authentic. If I can see just a bit of that author when they were going through the trials of fifth grade, or the first crush or sitting behind the kid at school who never took a bath, then I’m really happy. As for having a sense of humor, well, anyone who makes me laugh out loud gets the vote of approval. Authors who understand that being humble in a working relationship is not a weakness and those with a sense of honor who choose to uphold the secret code are the ones that stay off Terrie’s “Naughty List.”

I think, really, I ought to expect from my clients what they ought to expect of me. By the time the book is released, we’ve hopefully come to what might be seen as a really good marriage.

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

I’m not great at following trends. I love magical realism – the just-too-good-to-be-true…maybe – stories. I’m a pushover for good historical fiction. I will also consider well-written non-fiction. I like the well-thought, well-researched work that teaches 12 year-old Terrie something. I also like the book that doesn’t ever speak down to my readers.

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

Favorite: The sense of fearlessness ranks right up there near the top. I truly believe I can, you can, and we can do anything. The fact that anything centers on the art of writing thrills me! We have the ability to affect future generations. I love the fact that I am given the opportunity to work with brilliant people in an industry that continues to morph and change.

Least favorite: I’m not sure I’ve found a least favorite thing. The industry challenges us all to be better and I like that. Of course, it’s tough to tell a client their work has been rejected with little editorial direction. But on those occasions when an editor enlightens us regarding a given submission, I can’t tell you how exciting it feels. I truly believe being told “no” increases the opportunity of “yes” – if that makes sense!

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)

First bit: I believe in reading. I’m serious when I question authors regarding their top 25 favorites, especially with regard to genre. By the way, your top reads should change from time to time!

Second: I believe the minute you regret what you’re doing, you need to go do anything else for six months. I’m not talking about a little block or indecision about what to write next, how to solve a plotting issue or how to tackle that muse who makes faces at you from the edge of your writing table. Unless you’re writing about the subject of suffering, I don’t believe writing should be painful. Mind you, pain and difficulty are two different things…

Third: The industry is really quite small. Don’t – I repeat – don’t expect me to join in as you talk down my fellow agents and editors and your fellow authors. I’ll just not be a part. My parents taught me all about etiquette, and I believe in using my best manners with everyone I meet.

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

This might be the hardest question of all! So many authors come to mind! Living; I’d love to sit and chat with Mary Pope Osborne, who created the Magic Tree House series. Her work manages to be all that I would have loved to read as an 8 year-old; fun, well-thought and absolutely fantastic. I imagine she’s a breath of fresh air! As for authors who’ve died, I think Margery Williams who authored The Velveteen Rabbit would be a lovely person to share a meal with because she endured much in life yet saw the good, the silver lining, and truly wanted people to realize the value of love.


  1. Thanks for the work you do introducing us to agents and giving us a sense of their personality.

  2. Thanks for the great interview. I loved The Graveyard too.

    I'm blogger friends with Terrie's client Buffy Andrews and met Louise Caiola through Buffy's blog. I'm excited that I'll be interviewing Louise at Literary Rambles in December and giving away a copy of Wishless.

  3. Wow, this was one of my favorite agent interviews ever! Thanks to both of you!

    And WHOA to the intro - Terrie is really well-travelled! (and I bet good at making coffee!

  4. Your interviews are so interesting! Thanks for all the hard work you put in.

  5. Terri is an extraordinary lady--it's a pleasure to work with her!

  6. Terrie is an angel of an agent, and encourages her writers endlessly. In reading this interview, you'll see her gentle heart mirrored in her favorite books and movies, great sense of humor, too. Thanks, Terrie, for all you do.

  7. Wonderful interview!
    Terrie believes in her clients and works hard for them.

    I love how positive Terrie is. It has been a delight to be on her team. Finding an agent who truly becomes a friend, is most rewarding. It has been nice to laugh and to cry with her.

  8. I must mirror what Carrie and Dr. Koelker said. Terrie is one of a kind. I consider her a friend as well as my agent. In this industry it's a rare and beautiful thing to come across a literary agent with a heart as big as hers. We who have been so fortunate as to join her ranks are truly blessed. Thanks for featuring her here today! Great interview :)

  9. Terrie never ceases to amaze and inspire me. She is a rare jewel, true to her own words, "intelligent, humble, and honorable." Thanks for the advice and insights!

  10. Am I lucky or what, to have such a great agent? It was nice to learn even more about you, Terrie. And, yes, I think the six words describe you to a T.

  11. I love this! My favorite parts:

    "Don’t – I repeat – don’t expect me to join in as you talk down my fellow agents and editors and your fellow authors. I’ll just not be a part." (LOVE this!)

    Mary Pope Osborne and Margery Williams--what fun choices! :-)

  12. Great interview! I'm very, very happy to be a part of the AKA Literary team.


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