It’s easy for me to think, “I just want to see something great” when I fire up the queries inbox. But I understand that is the least helpful thing I could possibly say to querying authors. So, in an effort to actually lend guidance, here is what I’d love to see:
In both YA and MG I would love to see some more gothic stories. Secret societies, creepy old mansions, and morally questionable science experiments always get me excited. I even have a soft spot for serial killer stories–especially if they’re heavy on the psychological thrills and not gore. I adore Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series. She balances humor and horror in the most compelling way.
Specifically in YA, I love thrillers with twists! I will never forget the way I felt when I read Daphne DuMaurier’s REBECCA for the first time. Or Elizabeth Wein’s CODE NAME VERITY. Or everything Gillian Flynn has ever written. I love them dark; I love them twisty. It’s fascinating to push characters to the very edge and see how they respond.
Another thing I’d like to see more is reworked classics. Not necessarily Jane Austin or William Shakespeare; those have been done. (Though I love “Clueless” and “10 Things I Hate About You” as much as the next girl.) TILL WE HAVE FACES by CS Lewis is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s mythology and sisters. I’m a sucker for both of those things. So, someone write that for me, please? Retellings of classics are great for a few reasons, they make classics accessible to a new audience and they spark nostalgia for those of us who loved the original.
Sci-fi and fantasy: For YA or MG I would love to sign something akin to “Firefly”. I’m not sure if I love the rebel-with-a-cause attitude or the ensemble cast more. Typically, I prefer my sci-fi set in space, not on earth. The beauty of sci-fi is the boundless universe. I like to get off planet earth and discover what else is out there. Also, I would love to see more LGBTQ characters in sci-fi and fantasy. For me, the most exciting stories reinvent typical tropes! Go ahead, send me characters who break the rules.
What you’re hearing is: I love plot/action driven books. Character development, beautiful prose, and romantic tension are important, but action keeps me reading into the wee hours of the morning.
Of course, feel free to query me even if I haven’t mentioned your genre. I love seeing what people are passionate about and reading stories that come from the heart. I approach my query inbox looking to say “yes!” There is nothing more exciting to me than connecting with the perfect manuscript and developing a relationship with that author.