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

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