What I’m Looking For: Aida Z. Lilly

I’m excited to be open to queries for speculative fiction in upper middle grade, YA, and adult; in YA and upper MG contemporary, I am exclusively looking for stories from LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and other marginalized groups; graphic novels for upper middle grade, YA, and adult from author-illustrators with a unique story; fresh, modern, and original contemporary adult fiction that fits in with my wishlist; and narrative non-fiction (but no true crime).

Across all genres, the writing, voice, and characters have to hook me and make me feel something. I want stories about the good, bad, and ugly of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I’m also interested in cults, the occult, mental health, and magic. I’m looking for the kind-of-weird and completely amazing! Good writing is the most important aspect for me. I love great ideas, but I really need the execution of those ideas to be brilliant. I want to be drawn in within the first few pages, and I’m okay with not having all the answers (at first anyway). I want to read the story only you can tell. I want to accidentally learn things only you can teach me.

I love all things speculative—well, except horror (touches of it in other spec fiction are fine though). What really catches my eye is SFF with real issues tackled in thought-provoking ways, like Grossman’s MAGICIANS series (and show). This shouldn’t be super shocking since I grew up loving the ANIMORPHS series. I like a big, diverse cast with love in their hearts and problems in their lives. Even though these kids had to save the world, they still dealt with familial strife, romantic problems, the failings of adults, and the emotions that accompanied the war and the “normal” lives they had to lead. So give me ANIMORPHS for adults with even more diversity.

On that note, I want feminist projects (especially where feminism is unexpected) and books written by and about people from marginalized communities. As a first-gen Middle Eastern American, I enjoy hearing other people’s immigration tales. If you have written the next KIM’S CONVENIENCE, EMAIL ME RIGHT THIS SECOND BECAUSE I LOVE YOU.

I want ALLLLLLL the queer SFF please! There is so little of it, and it is so needed!

I like mythology (especially when it’s written as beautifully as Madeline Miller does it), music (Juliet, Naked and Daisy Jones & The Six are some of my faves), unreliable narrators, multiple viewpoints, stories that take place at college/grad school, flawed characters, a sense of humor, friendships (complicated ones, too), L.A. stories, tales of NYC, puzzles (think more Dan Brown, less National Treasure), and the atmosphere of Carnivàle, Darren Shan’s CIRQUE DU FREAK, Euphoria, and New Orleans. Magic and superheroes are some of my favorite things, especially when those characters act in a very human way and have very human problems (The Boys, Hancock, Super Ex-Girlfriend). I love a good origin story (even if I’ve seen Peter Parker have three of them onscreen…)

My taste veers from AMERICAN PSYCHO to HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (and lots in between). Engage me enough to make me laugh AND cry. Give me humor and heart (like Handler’s LIFE WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME); give me a character like Dr. Cox from Scrubs or someone Gordon Ramsay-esque, who secretly has a soft center. Conversely, I also want ALL THE DARKNESS. Because while I love the cuteness of Detective Pikachu, I also live for authors like Leïla Slimani, Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk, who capture the ugly sides of human nature in sharp, acerbic light. I won’t shy away from your THREE WOMEN, TWEAK, EDUCATED, or MY DARK VANESSA.

Shows and movies I love: ALL THINGS STUDIO GHIBLI, Kim’s Convenience, Pose, American Horror Story: Coven, The L Word (both), Big Love, Fresh off the Boat (the book and show), Guardians of the Galaxy (and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe), Supernatural, Lost, Modern Family, anything Mindy Kaling touches (books and shows), Workin’ Moms, Abrams’s Star Trek reboot, The Affair, South Park, Dexter (the books and show), Broad City, The Last Man on Earth (I nearly cried when they canceled this), Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Crash, What Dreams May Come, Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned, Death Note, Straight Outta Compton, Monsters University, The Sopranos, How to Get Away with Murder, Stepbrothers, Zoolander, The Boondocks, Little Nemo, Selena, Shin Chan, Rent, Sweeney Todd, Dope, The Halloween Tree (the book and the movie), The Office, American Housewife, For Colored Girls, LotR, Mad Men, Mystery Men, Sons of Anarchy, Fringe, The King of Queens, Cloverfield, Super 8, Blade Runner 2049, Good Will Hunting, Adventure Time, Detective Pikachu, Good Boys

Books and authors I love: The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell (and his standup), Mira Jacob, Daisy Jones and the Six, There There, Eat a Peach, Convenience Store Woman, Double Cup Love, Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines, Born a Crime (and Noah’s standup), Tranny, The Hate U Give, Warcross duology, Leïla Slimani, Rainbow Rowell, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, The Time Traveler’s Wife, I Am Legend (the movie, too), The Amory Wars (and the music about them), Saga, Deadendia, The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Chuck Palahniuk, Kid Gloves, Zatanna and the House of Secrets, Sing, Unburied, Sing, The Wheel of Time series, Hyperbole and a Half, Bret Easton Ellis, Harry Potter (but not Rowling), Artemis Fowl, Riordan and friends, Life Will Be the Death of Me, The Interestings, Station Eleven, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up with Me, Hey Kiddo, The New Kid, Furious Thing, Number One Chinese Restaurant, The Girls at 17 Swann Street, Ready Player One (and the movie), Wildwood, Red at the Bone, Juliet, Naked, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Fun Home, American Housewife, Madeline Miller, Gaiman, Christopher Moore, Haruki Murakami, Patrick Rothfuss, The Goldfinch, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Kevin Kwan, Dave Eggers, My Dark Vanessa, All of us with Wings, Graveyard Shift, Life of Pi, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, America for Beginners, The Storyteller’s Secret, Never Let Me Go, Priestdaddy, Educated, Three Women, Augusten Burroughs, Furiously Happy, Okay, Fine, Whatever, Fights: One Boy’s Triumph over Violence, The Usual Suspects (Maurice Broaddus), V.E. Schwab, The Silent Patient, Uprooted, Pierce Brown, The Enderverse, Blake Crouch, The Hunger Games, John Dies at the End


Maybe not the best fit for:
Political thriller
Gross out
Horror (some touches are okay in SFF)
Picture books
Chapter books
Animal protagonists
Flowery language in fantasy
Very technical or math-heavy sci-fi
Historical fiction
WW2 or cops or Civil War/antebellum
“Inspirational”

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