For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end. When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasy.
YA is Jennifer’s sweet spot. She is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative. Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature.
That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!
Prior to joining ABLA, Jennifer worked in marketing and public relations in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, and toys. She has an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, and was a fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto in 2012. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two sons, and an English bulldog.
Jennifer regularly presents at writing conferences all over the country, including the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Northern Colorado Writers Conference, and regional SCBWI conferences.
For her latest conference schedule, craft tips and more, follow Jennifer on Twitter at @marchsoloway.
And now Jennifer March Soloway faces the 7 Questions:
Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
This question is always so very hard for me. I have wide-ranging taste, and there are so many good books, it's difficult to choose. So I'm just going to list three of my favorites I've read in the past year, starting with my most recent fave:
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
(I love YA.)
And my favorite picture book is Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio, with illustrations by LeYuen Pham. (I choke up every time I turn to the last page.)
Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?
Again, so hard to choose! Here's my current favorites from the last few years (I have eclectic taste):
TV: Mr. Robot; People of Earth; and Insecure
Movies: The Big Sick; Embrace of the Serpent; and It Follows
Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
First, I want to fall in love with someone's writing and/or illustrations, and then I speak to that writer/illustrator to see if we click editorially. I also look for open and easy communication. If my suggestions resonate and inspire a prospective client and we are able to talk freely, then chances are the two of us are a good fit.
Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?
I am open to any good story that is well written with strong, authentic voices of all kinds, but I'd love to find the following:
I am actively seeking MG, and I'm open to anything. I like boy and girl protagonists, adventure, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, puzzles, mysteries, funny contemporary stories, fantasy, etc.
Young adult is my sweet spot. I am always looking for a good psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real with the imagined. I love the question: Is it real or is it all in my head? Action-packed thrillers and mysteries, full of unexpected twists. I am also drawn to literary stories about ordinary people, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction.
For picture books, laugh-out-loud stories are my favorite. I like sweet picture books too, but I always appreciate a dose of humor.
That’s my wish list, but the truth is an author might have something I have never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for me. Please query me!
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?
My favorite thing about agenting is the editorial process and helping writers elevate their work, but I also like many other aspects like writing pitches, working with editors, negotiating terms, thinking strategically about a client's career, and so on.
My least favorite thing is writing rejections.
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)
A bit of wisdom:
Writing stories is all about asking questions and solving problems—for better or worse—and there are so many directions a story can go. If something isn’t working, think about the other possible outcomes. You will discover exciting new possibilities through revision that you would have never found otherwise.
Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
Also, a really hard question. Maybe Sherman Alexie. I just had the good fortune to see him on his recent book tour for his memoir, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, and he was engaging and funny and heartbreakingly honest. I could have listened to him for hours. Plus, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of my favorite books.