Monday, July 14, 2014

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Laura Biagi

Laura Biagi joined JVNLA in 2009. She is actively building her own client list, seeking adult literary fiction and young readers books. She also handles the sale of Australian and New Zealand rights for the agency. She has worked closely with Jean Naggar and Jennifer Weltz on their titles, as well as Jennifer Weltz on the submission of JVNLA's titles internationally.

Laura's writing background has honed her editorial eye and has driven her enthusiasm for discovering and developing literary talent. She studied creative writing and anthropology at Northwestern University. As a writer, she has participated in workshops at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. She is the recipient of a Kentucky Emerging Artist Award for fiction writing.

Laura grew up in a small town in Kentucky and maintains a fondness for Southern biscuits and unobstructed views of the stars.

Follow her on twitter.

And now Laura Biagi faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
Oh gosh, I can't list just three!  The Harry Potter books will always top my list because they made such a huge impact on me.  The level of world building J.K. Rowling did for the books and the incredible story she wove never fail to astound me.  I think Rowling was the first to prove to me everything books could be.

I'm very eclectic in my taste, but strong writing and incredible characters are the most important to me.  So, in the adult realm, I'd place Blindness by Jose Saramago among my top favorites; it's a dark, literary apocalyptic novel.  I'd also put The Shipping News by Annie Proulx up there; Proulx creates amazing characters.  And I loved No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.  It's edgy and kept surprising me, taking me further than I ever expected it would go, brilliantly.

Other books on my favorite list in the kids' realm include Bringing Nettie Back by Nancy Hope Wilson, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.  All have wonderful character development and are well-told stories.

Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?
I love the madness, the lushness, and the great story at the heart of Moulin Rouge.  Slumdog Millionaire is another favorite because of the thrilling story it tells and its social and cultural insight.  And I think Proof, the movie starring Gywneth Paltrow based on the (also amazing) play, is a fantastic psychological tale with pieces that slowly unfold, fitting together like a puzzle.  It's incredible.

The TV shows I love usually do a great job of pairing character crises with plot crises--using both to illuminate the other.  TV-wise, past favorites include House M.D. and the early seasons of Glee.  A more recent favorite has been Graceland, which has some fantastic character development and twists.

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
My ideal client would be someone who's persistent and creative.  I also want someone who can keep challenging themselves creatively, someone who understands we're a team, and someone who treats writing professionally.

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?
Well, adult-wise, I'd love to get more literary fiction, especially something of a magical realism bent and/or surrounding social or cultural issues.  For me, literary fiction usually has to have a strong plot, too, in addition to great writing and characters.

Kids-wise, I'm looking for a great story with great characters that's well told.  It sounds generic, but it's true.  Again, I'd love something that has a bit of a magical realism flavor (which doesn't mean straight fantasy), a bit in the vein of another of our agency books, Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed.  I skew more toward the literary side of YA rather than the commercial side.  

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?
My favorite thing's got to be discovering that submission that stands out from all the rest, that makes me want to keep reading and reading, that makes me feel like the characters and their world are real.

My least favorite thing is probably the various administrative odds and ends--they can sometimes be menial, but everyone has to do them to keep business functioning!

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)
Keep writing and don't let yourself stop.  Even if you do have to take a break for a bit (because life does get in the way!), find a time to keep going, and write.  Your first novel or picture book, etc, may not be the first one to make it out there, but if you keep writing, reading, and leaving yourself open to learning experiences, then you're that much more likely to make it.  And don't keep reworking the same piece for too long.  Your writing can only grow if you give yourself new things to write--much like a plant can't grow bigger if you keep it in the same pot.

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

Hmm, well I suppose it would have to be J.K. Rowling.  I'd love to pick her brain about how she created such an astounding, complex world in the Harry Potter books and what her inspiration was.  And I'm curious to hear, in her own words, how she was able to keep persisting as a writer--she has quite an amazing success story!  And of course I'd also ask about her adult books, the writing process for them, her inspiration, etc. I guess this would have to be a long lunch!

1 comment:

  1. I met Laura at a writing conference recently. She had a horrible cold but managed to be upbeat, positive and extremely helpful the whole time :) Any writer would be lucky to have her as their agent.


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