Friday, November 21, 2014

Roadtripping and World Building -- a post by Gemma

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve just been on an epic road trip across America – 3750 miles from Atlanta to L.A. It was so awesome that I’m boring everyone by talking about it lots, and as it was my turn on the blog today, I had to find a way to tie it into work somehow! 

The trip was amazing for so many reasons, but one thing I really noticed was how different the various towns and states were — all the little details and quirks that were individual to that specific location. This got me thinking about world-building and how careful attention to detail can really bring a place to life. 

Some things to think about: 

  • What type of things do your characters eat? Certain places have very distinctive food that is always associated with that location. In New Orleans we did a food tour – tasting some fantastic gumbo, Po'boys, muffaletta, jambalaya. In Texas we ate steak for every meal. There is no need to describe meals in extensive detail, but a few small details add texture to your world-building.
  • What does it look like where your characters live? When they move around their world, how do they see it? We drove through pretty much every type of landscape — cities, swamps, mountains and deserts. We saw many different types of architecture and places people call home, from skyscrapers to trailer parks. If you’re setting your story in a location you’re unfamiliar with, jump on Google Images for inspiration.
  • And how does this location impact your characters’ lives? If you set your book in L.A., it might be that your character has to have a car to get around, and it takes an hour to drive five miles! If you set them in a remote mountain town, then you also need to think about the restrictions of this on their day-to-day lives.
  • What is the weather like? For my trip, it was a similar temperature across the country, but in Phoenix it was more of a dry heat, and in Louisiana it felt more humid and sticky. Again, you don’t want to overly describe the weather, just the effect it has on your characters.
  • What type of people live in the same area as your character? Overheard conversations in restaurants can be very informative – in L.A., all three of the tables around us one breakfast were discussing scripts and auditions (seriously). In a diner in the middle of Nowheresville, two waitresses were talking about fitting in a second cleaning job to pay the bills. Developing believable cameo characters can really add depth to your world. 
  • What type of clothes do your characters wear? Where do they shop? Not every teenager wears Chuck Taylors — although in books they seem to! The location/weather will have an effect on this, but it also might be that regionally there is a trend.

When you are in a place, you soak up all the atmosphere and all the little details I’ve described above, but when you are writing you have to create these – either from memory, or from scratch – and it’s getting these across that can make the difference between a rich and vivid world that jumps off the page, and one that doesn’t.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deal Announcement: Subsidiary Rights Sales!

Congratulations to the following Bent Agency clients on their subsidiary rights deals!

Lori Nelson Spielman's #1 international bestseller THE LIFE LIST has sold in five more territories, bringing the total number of countries up to 29.  She has new deals in Croatia with Fokus, Latvia with Zvaigzne, Vietnam with Women's Publishing House, Lithuania with Alma Littera and Indonesia with PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

And Lori Nelson Spielman's upcoming follow up novel SWEET FORGIVENESS has sold in the following countries, bringing the total number up to 11:  Poland to Rebis, France to Le Cherche Midi, Hungary to Agave, Brazil to Verus, Vietnam to Women's Publishing House, Taiwan to Delight Press, Italy to Sperling and Kupfer and in Spain to Urano.

MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE by Robin Stevens, a middle grade novel recently nominated for the Carnegie Medal and longlisted for the Oxfordshire Book Award in the UK, has sold in France to Flammarion Jeunesse.

UNHINGED and ENSNARED by AG Howard have sold in Turkey to Pegasus Yayinlari.  AG Howard's wonderful SPLINTERED series has now sold in 10 different countries.

THE IMMORTAL WHO LOVED ME by New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands was sold to Lyx in Germany, where she is a regular bestseller on the Der Spiegel list.

MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia has sold in Turkey to Pegasus Yayincilik.  The book has also sold in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Audio rights to Seressia Glass's TUESDAY NIGHT SURVIVOR'S CLUB series have sold to Tantor.

Audio rights to New York Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson's new cowboy series, CRAZY FOR THE COWBOY and WILD FOR THE WRANGLER, have sold to Tantor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Deal Announcement: Sam Hay's early chapter book series to Scholastic Branches

I am thrilled to announce a two-book deal for UNDEAD PETS and SCREAMING SANDS author Sam Hay’s early chapter book series – STELLA AND THE NIGHT SPRITES. Congrats Sam! 

Deal announcement from Publishers Marketplace: 
November 18, 2014

Middle grade 

UNDEAD PETS' author Sam Hay's new early chapter book series STELLA AND THE NIGHT SPRITES, in which Stella's amazing new glasses allow her to see into the magical world of the mischievous night sprites, to Katie Carella at Scholastic Branches, in a two-book deal, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (world).

As a glasses wearer myself, I fell in love with the idea of a little girl getting magical glasses that show a nocturnal world of playful sprites. Branches is a fantastic imprint with an amazing editor at the helm, so it’s the perfect home for Sam’s new series.

Please go and congratulate Sam on Twitter and check out her website for more information.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Brooks's Adult Wish List

Hello, all! I believe I'm primarily known as an agent who works on picture books and middle grade and young adult fiction. It might surprise some of you to know that I work in adult fiction and nonfiction as well, and I'm actively looking to expand my list in those categories.

Now, as the first anniversary of my joining the Bent Agency approaches, I thought I'd take some time to share with you my wish list of adult projects I'd love to take on as I continue building my roster of children's books.

During most of my teenage years, the vast majority of my reading picks for pleasure were high fantasy novels (some of my childhood favorite authors were Lloyd Alexander, R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman), and I've retained a strong interest in the genre and its subgenres. I'd love to work with an authors of high fantasy epic with strong world building like George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire or Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle, contemporary fantasy like The Magicians by Lev Grossman and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, or historical fantasy like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke or The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

I'm a particular fan of projects that fit into the "speculative thriller" subgenre: novels with a ticking clock and a strong fantasy/sci-fi/horror element. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley is one of my favorite examples of this subgenre, as is the recently released We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers. Oh, and if someone writes literary horror like Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box or Horns, please drop me a line!

For contemporary fiction, I love a good character/cultural study, as found in Adelle Waldman's skewering of literary elites in The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., or in Carol Rivka Brunt's heartbreaking look at 1980s New York City in Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Like many other readers, I was a big fan of Gillian Flynn's psychological suspense novel Gone Girl, but I'm an even bigger fan of her darker work, like Sharp Objects.

If you can keep me guessing with a literary or historical mystery like Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte did with The Club Dumas or Caleb Carr did with The Alienist, we're going to be good friends. A pet project I'd kill to work on would be set during the Affair of the Poisons in Enlightenment France. The story could incorporate fantastical elements or be straight historical.

In nonfiction, I am primarily seeking projects that are historical, cross-cultural, or humorous. Reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States was a life-changer for me, and I maintain a fascination with true crime like Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah or anything involving organized crime in America. Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests is one of my favorite nonfiction reads of the past decade. (If you haven't read it, go buy the updated version today!)

I'm selectively considering memoir and biography projects that are transformative, explore of universal connections in new ways, or bring to new light some previous era or historical person. Travelogues are a person pleasure of mine as well, as I am a former Peace Corps volunteer and my wanderlust still flows strong. Some recent examples of what I mean here are Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan, Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin, and just about anything by Bill Bryson.

I'd also love to work on a book that deals with advice or pop science, or essay collections (a recent favorite is Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist), but these would require a strong (or growing) platform on the part of the authors.

So there you have it: some of my favorite adult reads, and the adult categories and genres I'm most focused on incorporating into my list in the near future. This in no way implies that I will be stepping away from all the wonderful children's book projects I currently work with. After all, I'm still looking for the next Roal Dahl, Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith, Holly Black, and Tim Federle. It's a busy, fascinating, fun life, reading all these books!

Anyway, I look forward to seeing your submission in the near future! And if anything I've outlined here is unclear, or you have further questions, you can reach out to me on Twitter. I'm always up for a quick chat!