Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Carrie Howland of Howland Literary

Carrie Howland is a literary agent and the President of Howland Literary, LLC, which she established in 2018, after thirteen years as an agent, most recently at Empire Literary.

Carrie holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Albion College, where she was the Poetry Editor of The Albion Review. Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals and magazines. In her spare time, Carrie volunteers as a foster for a local dog rescue and is an active member of the Junior League. Her passions include music, pop culture, and the Midwest. She has been featured in several publications discussing her work as an agent including Poets & Writers, SCWBI insight, Akashic Books, and Slice Magazine. Carrie Howland joined Empire Literary after eleven years as an agent at Donadio & Olson, Inc.

She represents young adult, middle grade, and select picture book authors.

 

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Justin Brouckaert of Aevitas Creative Management

Justin Brouckaert is a literary agent with Aevitas Creative Management.

Justin is a Metro Detroit native who holds an MFA in fiction from the University of South Carolina, where he was a James Dickey Fellow. As an agent, he is interested in literary fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, and select illustrated and prescriptive works.

In fiction, he is most interested in novels that are driven by flawed, magnetic characters; novels with innovate structures; novels that engage with the wide world of sports; and novels that are set in the Midwest.

In nonfiction, he is most interested in memoirs that offer access to exclusive places and experiences, as well as reported narratives that shed light on under-represented people and communities.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jon Michael Darga of Aevitas Creative Management

Jon Michael Darga is a literary agent with Aevitas Creative Management.

Jon represents titles across a diverse range of genres, including, most recently, the biography Vivian Maier Developed by Ann Marks, the cookbook Cookies: The New Classics by Jesse Szewczyk (named a Best Cookbook of 2021 by the New York Times), the photography book Portrait of an Artist by Hugo Huerta Marin, and the New York Times bestselling oral history of “Grey’s Anatomy” How to Save a Life by Lynette Rice.

Darga graduated from the University of Michigan with Honors with a BA in English and Creative Writing, and later attended the Columbia University publishing program. Before coming to Aevitas, he was an editor at Crown, a division within Penguin Random House, where he worked on several bestsellers and award winners.

Darga represents both nonfiction and fiction. He is most interested in voice-driven pop culture writing, non-fiction histories that re-cast the narrative by emphasizing unexpected or unheard voices, and both adult and young adult commercial fiction that features diverse casts and new stories. He is not looking for genre fiction like political/crime thrillers, fantasy/sci-fi, or nonfiction in the self-help/how-to/business categories.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Rebecca Eskildsen of Writers House

Rebecca Eskildsen is a literary agent at Writers House.

“I am actively growing my list, with a particular interest in middle grade, YA, and adult fiction. Across the board, I’m looking to elevate LGBTQ+ and BIPOC voices, among other underrepresented narratives.

“In middle grade, I’m looking for a range of fiction, from fun adventure stories to contemporary books that make kids feel seen. Mostly I want to see fresh, engaging voices, particularly narratives with a sense of humor and a strong emotional core.

“For YA, I’m looking for some darker themes and twisty, gripping stories, but also some lighthearted fun! Give me your ambitious “unlikable” girls (ugh – I’ll like them) and your funny, slow-burn romances.

“I’m looking for a more limited variety of adult books. I’d love to have my inbox full of contemporary rom coms. I’m also looking for sagas about families and/or friends, of any age or topic, and I’m looking for 20-something coming-of-age stories.”

Middle Grade Wishlist Specifics:

— Voices full of humor, particularly in contemporary settings.

— Friendship stories! Elementary school and middle school is a weird time for friendships. There can be rivalries or shifting loyalties, and they can make you closer than ever, or pull you apart. Sometimes the end of a friendship is dramatic, sometimes it’s just what happens, but we’ve all had *feelings* about these friendship transitions.

— Kids grappling with shifts in their family, such as divorce or foster care. I’d really like to see more portrayal of divorce in MG, especially in the background of stories. My recent favorites that tackled these topics are FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Rebecca Stead’s THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE.

— Queer characters, especially trans and non-binary kids.

— Stories about immigrants and/or immigration, like FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang.

— Books that shine a light on mental health.

— Grounded, contemporary fantasy.

— Fun ghost stories, like CITY OF GHOSTS by Victoria Schwab or Eva Ibbotson’s DIAL-A-GHOST.

— Big adventure stories, like Gordon Korman’s MASTERMINDS series.

Young Adult Wishlist Specifics:

— Friendship stories, like UNPREGNANT or even CODE NAME VERITY, and friendship break-ups, such as WE USED TO BE FRIENDS and WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING.

— Explorations of toxic relationships, both among platonic friends, and romantic relationships, like GIRLS ON FIRE or BAD ROMANCE.

— Grounded fantasy/realism that is lyrical and heart-wrenching, like BLANCA & ROJA or THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS.

— Twisty, gripping stories, like THE CRUEL PRINCE or DEAD QUEENS CLUB – bonus points if they have the same level of relatable yet cutthroat ambition that Jude has in THE CRUEL PRINCE.

— I’m picky about high fantasy, but would love to see high fantasy that tells us truths about ourselves, a la SERAPHINA and TESS OF THE ROAD, or has a strong emotional core, like GRACELING and FIRE.

— Emotional character studies, such as WE ARE OKAY and EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED. Quiet books, basically, that may not have a lot of action but still grip the reader’s soul. Break my heart and put it back together again!

— Rom coms! I’m especially interested in slow burn romances and books that play with format by including texts, tweets, and chat rooms, like in EMERGENCY CONTACT and TWEET CUTE.

— Fun, high concept books, like YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN or THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE.

— Witch books! I devoured Cate Tiernan’s SWEEP series multiple times as a teen and felt the same joy reading THESE WITCHES WON’T BURN. I am absolutely here for the resurgence of witchy YA.

— Books that talk about mental health in a destigmatizing way, like LITTLE & LION.

— Clever, unexpected retellings, like MY LADY JANE or HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS or THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, or anything by Anna-Marie McLemore.

Adult fiction wishlist specifics:

— I’m hungry for fresh and hilarious rom coms, like RED, WHITE, & ROYAL BLUE and THE EX TALK. As with YA, I’m interested in playing with format, like the romance that’s built upon post-it notes in THE FLATSHARE. I’d also love to see more queer rom coms!

— Young millennial/Gen Z stories about coming of age, like NORMAL PEOPLE and QUEENIE.

— Deconstructions and examinations of uncomfortable modern cultural dynamics, like in SUCH A FUN AGE or EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS.

— Grounded family sagas, like EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU and THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS.

— Anything that can make mundane life feel exciting and fascinating, the way Liane Moriarty’s books feel.

Weirdly specific things I’d love to see in any age category:

— Something about crows? Crows are fascinating and loyal and also vengeful if you cross them. Bring me your contemporary or fantasy crow story!

— Seattle and/or Pacific Northwest settings.

— Forest magic!

— Something that feels like Crazy Ex Girlfriend season 3, with lots of hope and healing by the end.

— I binged all of Teen Wolf in the early days of lockdown, and I’d love to see a creative take on kitsunes or banshees.

— Something with the wit, humor, and emotional range of Veronica Mars (season 1 through the movie, we don’t talk about season 4).

— Something with the hilarity and incisive remarks of the first half of Swan Princess.

I am NOT looking for:

— Picture books

— Grimdark

— Nonfiction

— Graphic novels

— Military science fiction

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kat Kerr of Donald Maass Literary

Kat Kerr is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Kat joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2019. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors in English in 2009 and is drawn to literary and commercial voices within the adult and YA markets, as well as adult nonfiction. Kat feels strongly about supporting programs like We Need Diverse Books and is passionate about creating space in this industry for those from historically marginalized communities. She is actively seeking to grow her client list and is particularly hungry for magical realism, literary leaning speculative and science fiction, women’s fiction, YA works with a lot of heart, and narrative nonfiction with something to say.

Submission Interests:

Literary and Upmarket Fiction:

Kat is drawn to strong, character-driven works with rich, literary prose. She loves books that make her think and have a strong emotional pull.

Contemporary
Women’s Fiction
Multicultural Lit
Speculative
Magical Realism
Family Sagas
YA

Favorite Books: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, About a Boy by Nick Hornby, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, The Leavers by Lisa Ko, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen, anything by Amy Tan

Commercial Fiction:

For the commercial market, Kat is looking for high concept, voice-driven works with a close POV and well-developed, distinct characters.

Select Science Fiction and Fantasy
Women’s Fiction and Rom-Coms
YA (all genres)

Favorite Books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow, Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce, I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Nonfiction:

Narrative nonfiction and journalistic non-fiction tackling current affairs and social justice issues, particularly covering topics of racism, immigration, LGBTQIA+ rights, gender equality, and poverty
Select biographies and memoirs

Do NOT send:

– Plots/themes centering around unresolved trauma
– Previously published or self-published works
– MG, Chapter books, picture books
– Novellas, short stories, or poetry collections
– Military/war stories
– Westerns