Thursday, May 9, 2013

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Brooks Sherman

Brooks Sherman is on the lookout for adult fiction that runs the gamut from literary and upmarket to speculative (particularly urban/contemporary fantasy rooted in realistic settings, horror/dark fantasy, and magical realism), as well as historical fiction and crime fiction. 

On the children’s side, he is seeking middle grade novels of all genres (but particularly fantasy adventure and contemporary), and is open to YA fiction of all types except paranormal romance. He would especially love to get his hands on a dark and/or funny contemporary YA project.

Recent sales include Emma Trevayne‘s Chorus (Running Press Kids, Spring 2014) and Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times (S and S Books for Young Readers, Summer 2014), author/illustrator Sam Garton‘s picture book I Am Otter (Balzer + Bray, May 2014), and novelist Sean Ferrell‘s picture book debut I Don’t Like Koala (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, TBA).

Brooks is thrilled to be living once more in Brooklyn, after a two-year stint with the Peace Corps in bucolic West Africa and a one-year stint in the savage jungles of Hollywood. As befitting his chosen career in publishing, he subsists on a diet of breadcrumbs and bourbon.

You can visit his website or find him on Twitter at @byobrooks.

And now Brooks Sherman faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books? 

I’m sure all your interviewees have a hard time with this question. This would have been difficult for me to answer even before I got into publishing. However, I’ll take a stab at this and talk about both my consistently favorite and current favorite books are:

A GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin. You think the show is awesome? Ain’t got nothing on the world building of the books.

THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl. It’s my ambition to find this generation’s version of this book.

HORNS by Joe Hill. This book is so good, and it grabs your attention from the first lines and just won’t let go. I read the first chapter aloud at writers conferences as an example of a gripping opening.

THE PECULIAR by Stefan Bachmann. Just came out this past fall, but this middle grade Victorian fantasy totally deserves to become a classic. It’s so beautifully written, and so creepy.

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. I reread this book almost immediately after reading it the first time. So wrong, in all the right places!

THE ROOK by Daniel O’Malley. I just read this one recently, but I started it at 11pm and I didn’t put it down until I’d finished it around 8am. (Okay, I took a quick nap around 1am.) People have pitched this book as X-Men meets Buffy meets X-Files. And as amazing as that sounds, I’m inclined to agree with them.

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

Arrested Development. SO excited for the new season!

Grimm. This show got off to a rocky start, but the world building is phenomenal, and it’s certainly found its groove now!

Game of Thrones. See above. (But the books are still better.)

Archer. Selfishness and Freudian complexes have never been more fun than they are in this anachronistic spy comedy.

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
Someone who is open to collaboration, but who has vision. It’s a fine line: I want to work with someone who is willing to take notes and revise, but at the same time they have a strong idea of what they’re writing and why. Someone who loves to tell stories, and is writing for that reason first and foremost. A cutting sense of humor is a big plus, too.

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

I am most active in children’s books right now, and I’d love to add to my list! I’m looking for some fun middle grade adventure stories, along the lines of Goonies or Flight of the Navigator, or something quirky and creepy, like the works of Roald Dahl. I would love to work with more young adult stories as well, and in this category I’m looking for contemporary novels that have some strong elements of humor or noir. I also wouldn't say no to a YA version of Joe Hill's HORNS or Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL.

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

I love working closely with creative people on compelling projects, and helping them hone them into something beautiful. Being able to inform your client that you’ve sold their manuscript and they’re going to have a real, published book is a euphoric moment as well. 

The downside is not being able to work with every writer who has a good idea but that (for whatever reason) doesn’t quite work for me. This is especially true for me, since I came into publishing from a writing background and I’m sympathetic to the situation of querying writers.

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 you want to become a published author, do your homework. The writing process is a creative endeavor, but the publishing process is a commercial one. In this increasingly competitive marketplace, you must learn how to present yourself and your work in a professional manner. Write the story that’s in your heart; after that, learn as much as you can about the next steps towards the goal of publication—regardless of whether your route is traditional or independent.

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

Oscar Wilde. Regardless of whether we got along, that would be one stimulating, witty conversation.


  1. Brook sounds like a fantastic agent. So glad he likes middle grade and fantasy. I really enjoyed The Peculiar and like Grimm and Game of Thrones too.

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  3. Brooks sounds like someone I should definitely query. And he likes fantasy and middle grade fiction. The Witches by Roald Dahl is his favourite. Its also my favourite :)

  4. Anybody who like Game of Thrones and The Witches totally rocks it in my book.


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