Plus, the contrast between their styles kind of cracked me up.
Presenting our impromptu panel on YA fiction:
Editor: Annette Pollert, Simon Pulse
Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Q. Can you tell me what first drew you to the manuscript SHADE?
Annette: The first sentence captivated me with conflict. "You can hear me, can't you?" As the reader, I was immediately drawn in, thinking: Yes, I can hear you! Why wouldn't I be able to hear you? Who are you? And who are you talking to? The dialogue between Aura, the sixteen-year old protagonist, and an impatient violet-hued ghost revealed new aspects of their characters--and new layers of this new Post-Shift world--with each sentence. I loved Aura's voice and the brisk pacing.
When I reached the end of the three-chapter sample, my heart was racing. I was excited. And I was dismayed. I wanted to read more! What was going to happen to Aura and Logan? I had so many questions, and couldn't wait to see how they would be answered. In the span of 45 pages, I had become incredibly invested the characters and their world. Thankfully Jeri's detailed synopsis shared the trajectory for the rest of the novel--I was hooked!
Ginger: I really, really was blown away by Jeri's command of the teenage voice. Not all writers have that ear for how teens talk, and it's hard to fake. Jeri has it, in spades. Also, Zachary is Scottish and hot.
Q. Where do you see the market right now for urban fantasy/paranormal YA fiction?
Annette: The teen market for paranormal fiction is expanding. It's not just a party for vampires or witches or werewolves. They're all invited. Along with shapeshifters, zombies, ghosts, psychics, mermaids, etc. More slayers seem to be working their way back into the mix, too. There is a wealth of good reading these days. New novels and new authors are constantly publishing in the genre, which makes it very competitive. But what I find most exciting is how each book contributes something new, whether it be through unique voice, characters, world, or plot.
Ginger: The market is very, very good right now. All the "big books" at Bologna [Book Fair] were either YA urban fantasy or YA dystopias. It's hot right now, both here and abroad. We have TWILIGHT to thank for that in part.
But I believe the main reason these kinds of books do so well is that they are about love--specifically, first love. First love never goes out of style when it comes to young adult and teen books.
Q. Are you currently accepting queries, and if so, what are you looking for specifically and how can writers contact you?
Annette: At Simon Pulse, I acquire contemporary, commercial teen fiction--and the occasional nonfiction title. Complicated and engaging protagonists? Yes, please! I love smart, spunky characters. I'm captivated by inventive hooks and distinctive voices, regardless of whether a manuscript is based in or out of reality. Forbidden love and suspenseful reads come in many shapes and sizes--and usually catch my eye. And I admire writers who make me laugh.... I accept agented queries, and read manuscripts from authors I meet at writers conferences.
Ginger: If anyone has a book about a mermaid/selkie/angel/some other not overused magical creature, please email me a query IMMEDIATELY at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am still taking on new clients.
Thanks so much to Annette and Ginger for taking the time to answer our questions! I hope aspiring authors will keep them both in mind when submitting. You could not do better than these two.