Thursday, April 16, 2015

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Patricia Nelson

Patricia Nelson joined Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in 2014. Previously, she interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press.
Patricia represents adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction, and is actively looking to build her list.  In general, Patricia looks for compelling, well-written stories featuring complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships. On the adult side, she is seeking women’s fiction, historical fiction, and accessible literary fiction, as well as contemporary and historical romance. For YA and MG, she is open to a wide range of genres, with particular interest in contemporary/realistic, magical realism, mystery, horror, and fantasy. She is interested in seeing diverse stories and characters in all genres.
Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

This is such a hard question that I'm going to have to cheat a little. I'll give you three from my ultimate favorites shelf: Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, Sara Zarr's What We Lost, and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. And then here's three that I've read and loved recently: Kate DiCamillo's Flora and Ulysses, Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun, and Bennett Madison's September Girls.

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

A couple of my all-time favorites that I always go back to are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Veronica Mars, and Friday Night Lights. But again, it's so hard to choose! Lately I've been binge watching The Good Wife and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and I'm super excited for the new season of Orange is the New Black.

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

Hard-working and devoted to honing their craft. Full of ideas. Driven to make writing a career, but aware that publishing is slow and takes patience. Persistent and not prone to giving up. Friendly and kind (never underestimate how far kindness will get you). And while it's not a necessity, funny doesn't hurt either!

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

I represent a pretty wide range of adult, YA, and MG fiction, and I always have lots of specific wants on my manuscript wish list, which you can find on my twitter. ​In general, I tend to be drawn to novels with compelling female protagonists, a strong sense of place or atmosphere, characters that are smart and witty without being snarky, and/or an offbeat, slightly askew, or even creepy sensibility. I also gravitate toward stories that have something interesting to say about friendship or found families, as well as stories that incorporate subtle, unique elements of magic into the real world. And of course I'm looking for diverse books of all kinds.

That said, the queries that I get the most excited about are often the ones that I wouldn't have been able to predict. I love to be struck by the unexpected: stories that surprise me, fresh voices, characters that feel like real/specific people, and writing that grabs me and doesn't let go. 

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

My favorite thing is the people, from my talented and amazing clients to all of the smart, savvy booklovers who have chosen careers in the publishing industry. My least favorite thing by far is sending rejections--I feel like most agents say that! After all, we got into this business to champion creative people, so having to spend so much time saying "no" can be a bummer... but alas, it's an unavoidable part of the job.

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)

​In order to write, you have to have something to write about, so it's important to soak up as much of life and culture as you can. Work hard, but find ways to recharge your creative batteries. Read widely, go to the movies, seek out adventures, travel if you can. It will all make your work richer and more layered.

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

This may seem a little random, but I would love to have lunch with Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion and Judy Blume together. I feel like that would be an interesting conversation!

1 comment:

  1. Great interview~ love the last answer~ that would be quite a lunch!


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