Lara Perkins is an Associate Agent and Digital Manager at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She has been with the agency for over three years, working closely with Senior Agent Laura Rennert, with whom she jointly represents a number of clients, in addition to building her own list.
Lara is a fan of smart and raw young adult fiction, character-driven middle grade fiction with a totally original, hilarious voice, and so-adorable-she-can't-stand-it picture books, preferably with some age-appropriate emotional heft. She's a sucker for a great mystery and is passionate about stories that teach her new things or open up new worlds. More than anything, she has a soft spot for the wonderfully weird, the idiosyncratic, and the entirely unexpected.
Recent deals, together with Laura Rennert, include Matthew Ward's middle grade novel, THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE, sold in a two book, six-figure deal to Razorbill, and P.J. Hoover's young adult novel, SOLSTICE, forthcoming with Tor Teen in June 2013.
Lara has a B.A. in English and Art History from Amherst College and an M.A. in English Literature from Columbia University, where she studied Victorian Brit Lit. In her pre-publishing life, she trained to be an architect, before deciding that books, not bricks, are her true passion. She spent over a year at the B.J. Robbins Literary Agency in Los Angeles before coming to Andrea Brown Literary.
And now Lara Perkins faces the 7 Questions:
Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
Three is a cruelly small number, which I'm sure everyone says! But here are three books that I return to a lot:
George Eliot's Middlemarch
Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go
Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game (my favorite book as a kid, tied with E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.)
Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?
Movies: Hot Fuzz, Fritz Lang's M, and Lost in Translation. With an honorable mention for Vertigo.
TV shows: Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Friday Night Lights. But after a hard day, I turn to Psych, which is total silliness...wonderful total silliness.
(I'm pretending no one noticed that I snuck an extra title into each category.)
Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
I'm looking for an exceptionally talented writer, of course, which to me means a combination of a great ear for language, a honed sense of story and tension, a fearlessness both in writing towards pain/conflict and in revising, and an intelligent and compassionate curiosity about other people that's reflected on the page. Beyond that, my ideal client is dedicated, savvy, and a good communicator.
Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?
For MG, I'm looking for compelling, unexpected mysteries like The Westing Game or When You Reach Me, stories set in clever, fascinating alternate worlds centered on lovable and unforgettable characters like The Golden Compass or The Graveyard Book, and voice-driven stories that hit home in their depiction of ending/changing friendships or family shifts, like Wonder or The One and Only Ivan.
For YA, I'd be thrilled to find a heart-breaking, but at times very funny, voice-driven contemporary work, like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or The Fault in Our Stars. I love a bittersweet romance when it's solidly grounded in reality between believable, memorable characters, like Eleanor & Park. I'd love to find a character-driven fantasy with striking world-building, like The Scorpio Races or Seraphina. I’m definitely on the hunt for a page-turning psychological mystery. I love unreliable narrators, and I'd be delighted to find a Tana French-style mystery for teens.
For picture books, I’m a big fan of quirky, deadpan, wry picture books, like This is Not My Hat or This Moose Belongs to Me. A lovable, intriguing, relatable main character is usually central for me in picture books, too. I’d also love to find an author/illustrator who uses unexpected materials or textures. Two of my very favorite picture books are Blackout and Me Want Pet, so I’m also drawn to books that take a small but universal experience of childhood and draw out something beautiful or hilarious in that experience.
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?
I feel like I have the best job in the world, so a favorite thing is hard to pick. I love the process of discovering a new favorite author or illustrator, someone whose work I'm truly passionate about, and then advocating for them and helping shepherd their work out into the world. For a bookworm, what could be better?
A least favorite thing is tricky for the same reason, but I do wish I had the time to give detailed feedback on every query I receive. It's just not feasible, but I always wish it were.
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)
Read widely in your category. Every great writer is also a great reader.
Support other writers. It's fun and good karma.
Start a new project or turn to another WIP when you send something out on submission. It will help distract you while you're waiting and help keep this one submission in perspective.
Remember that patience and perseverance are as important as talent or skill.
The writing always comes first, so stay connected with what you love about writing, whatever that is for you.
Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
George Eliot (Marian Evans). She defied convention and expectations in so many ways, not least because she didn't start writing fiction until she was in her late 30s. Her work is imbued with so much philosophy and astute political thought, but it's also psychologically insightful and deeply compassionate. She communicates many different types of intelligence on the page; I'd love to meet the person behind that literary brain.