Saturday, December 28, 2013

Talcott Notch Literary Services' Jessica Negron stops by @ Twinja Book Reviews!

So today's interview is not from the author's perspective but from an agent we discovered during the hashtags #diversityinsff. Not only did she update her submission policy to include works of diverse fiction after that great event but we later found out she's a local!!(we too are based in CT)

So without further ado we'd like to introduce Jessica Negrón from Talcott Notch Literary Services...

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and what agency you represent?

As you mentioned, I’m based in CT. I graduated from the University of New Haven and from there interned with a few local small businesses in an editorial/design capacity. After a few years, I found a place with Talcott Notch Literary and have been here ever since!

I love breakfast at odd hours, learning useless trivia, video games, witty web comics, movies, and (of course) books. Some of my favorite authors are Juliet Marillier, Thomas Berger, Jane Austen, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, and Chuck Palahniuk.

2. Now we are very aware that you are not accepting any queries at the moment but aspiring writers who write #diversity in sff, what exactly are agents looking for when it comes to submissions that feature multicultural themes?

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but mainly I’m looking for authenticity. Many people use this as an excuse not to write diversely (how can I possibly write authentically if I’ve never experienced [insert culture here?]) but that argument is entirely invalid. I’m willing to bet most writers have never been the lead investigator of a grisly murder, navigated a space craft, or gone spelunking, but plenty write about these topics. It’s all about research and respect.

3. What are the obstacles to overcome when presenting fiction to publishers that feature PoC as main protagonists?

If there are any obstacles, it’s assuring that these stories are just as viable as any other. There was once an idea that people would not be receptive to stories featuring diverse protagonists. This simply isn’t true and most people in the industry understand that. I think we’re experiencing a massive shift right now as more and more people are making it a point to advertise that they want more diverse stories, as opposed to just assuming everyone knows.

4. Do you think stories with diverse themes get the same promotion as ones that don't? Why do you think this is?

I don’t think so. Stories that have a significant diversity element tend to base their promotion heavily on that. For example, instead of promoting a book as a terrific time-travel romance, a book would be promoted as a time-travel romance FEATURING A PoC WOMAN! I think that’s insulting, as if it’s some rare and unusual occurrence. Why is this done? Again, the need to specify comes from the assumption that people will consider these stories differently. I think this is actively changing, however.

5. What are some things writers and readers can do to convince publishers that stories with multicultural elements can and do sell?

Writers can continue to write stories with multicultural elements and readers can continue to buy them. Publishers put out what they think will sell. If you show them with your wallets that you’re willing to buy these stories in droves, they will put more out. And be vocal about it. If you, as a reader, want to see more diversity in fiction, tell your bookstore, tell your librarian, tell anyone who will listen. You can’t ignore a message if it’s LOUD.

6. What elements are you dying to read and represent in the future in the state of #diversityinsff?

I need to see all of it! I want stories featuring not just characters of different cultures, but different physical sizes and abilities, different economic classes, etc. All of it!

7. Do you get a lot of queries from authors of color featuring characters of color?

Honestly, I would have no way to know. I rarely come across a query that specifically mentions a character’s race/ethnicity and, apart from a name, I have no way of knowing from what background an author comes.

8. Is there a bit of pressure from Publishing houses(in your opinion)advising authors to write characters caucasian or bi-racial? Will there ever be a medium?

I have never personally experienced that pressure. Right now, all I’ve seen is editors begging for more diversity, so hopefully I will never experience that pressure.

9. What is the best part of being an agent?

Hands down, working with authors. These people have so much creativity and talent. I am in constant awe of my clients.

10. What's next for you and what are some upcoming releases from current clients?

I’m rather new, so my focus is continuing to build up my client list and get projects out there. Currently, there’s nothing I can announce as far as releases!

11. Where can people keep in contact and connect with you?

The best place to see what I’m up to is Twitter:  @loladeee
For the most updated look at my submission policies and wish lists, my blog:
And of course, my page on the Taclott Notch Agency website:
Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

Jessica in all her awesomeness!
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