Tuesday, August 4, 2015

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Alec Shane

Alec majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing. Alec quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency, where he worked under Jodi Reamer and Amy Berkower on a large number of YA and Adult titles.  Alec is now aggressively building his own list. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. In fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG).  Not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.
Twitter: @alecdshane

And now Alec Shane  faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, The Stand by Stephen King, Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose

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

Movies: Rocky, Dumb and Dumber, Braveheart

TV: The Simpsons (seasons 3-8 mainly), Sons of Anarchy, Seinfeld

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

My ideal client is one who, if I sat down and told him/her that I would never be able to sell a single thing that s/he wrote and nobody would ever read a word of any manuscript s/he produced, I'd still get fresh projects in my inbox without fail. My ideal clients aren't writing to make money; they are writing because they have to - because they love it.

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

My first love will always be horror novels, and I'd love to find a great horror story that doesn't read like an 80s slasher flick or a SyFy Channel monster movie. The best horror tweaks reality just enough to make you wonder if maybe - just maybe - this kind of thing could really happen, which scares the bejeezus out of you. I'd love to see a novel like that.

I'm also on a huge WWII and Civil War kick, so any nonfiction projects that sheds some new light on those wars are welcome.

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

I get to read for a living - what beats that? I also get to roll up my sleeves and really dig into a manuscript that, if all goes well, will be on shelves and in homes giving readers a great experience - it's really cool to see something like that through, from beginning to end, and know that not only are you helping to build an author's career, but you are helping to create something tangible that could very well one day change the world. The possibility and potential there is enough to make me excited to get out of bed every morning.

In terms of least favorite thing - this job really cuts into the amount of time I have to read for pleasure; the bulk of the reading I do is work-related, and during those brief moments when I do carve out some time just to read for fun, there's a little voice in the back of my head saying "you have over 1,000 pages of work reading to do - why are you reading this right now??!!" So it becomes harder to sit down and just enjoy a book in the hammock the way I used to.

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)

Writer what you want to write and what you're excited to write. Don't chase trends, don't write to sell books, don't write because you feel like you should...just write what you want to write. At the end of the day, nobody really has any idea what's going to sell and what isn't; all we can do is fall in love with great writing and a great story and try to get it out into the world. And your best chance as an author of making that happen is to write what you're passionate about.

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

Stephen King for sure - he's pretty much the reason I'm in this business, and I have a lot of questions for that guy. But mostly, I just want to wish him Long Days and Pleasant Nights.

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