if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

What I’m Looking For: Chelsea Hensley

Chelsea HensleyI’m looking for Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction as well as select Adult projects. Even if you don’t see your project perfectly described here please feel free to query if you think I’d be interested. Overall I’m looking for fresh concepts, immersive worlds, and a strong voice. I’m especially interested in working with authors from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in publishing, particularly Black authors.

In the Middle Grade space my tastes skew toward upper level and more toward fantasy. I’d love to see some sweeping fantasy like THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON and projects inspired by lesser told legends, fairytales or myths like LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA. I’m also interested in historical and mysteries of the whimsical and adventurous variety.

My Young Adult tastes are broader, but I’m especially interested in mysteries and thrillers in this category. I prefer mine dark and twisty and deeply character-driven (think: Courtney Summers). If you have fantasy, sci-fi, or historical projects with strong mystery threads in them, I’d love to see them! I’d also be interested in something irreverent and smart like American Vandal.

I’m also interested in YA science-fiction and fantasy. For sci-fi, I’m interested in things that are grounded in the real world, and I’d love to see some inventive dystopia like SCYTHE or horror like WILDER GIRLS. In fantasy, I’m interested in everything from contemporary to epic. I’d love something that puts a fantasy twist on history like DREAD NATION or THE DIVINERS. I’d also love something that blends and bends genres like JANE, UNLIMITED.

When it comes to YA contemporary and romance, I’m very selective, but when it’s good, I’m hooked. I’m drawn toward character-driven stories that meet emotional heft with a silvery thread of humor like the work of Robin Benway and Jenny Han.

In the Adult category, I’m only looking for fantasy at this time. I love sprawling magical worlds and lush retellings. I’d love something akin to the work of Naomi Novik or dark and atmospheric like NINTH HOUSE. I’m also interested in some supernatural horror. Less jump scares and the like and more unsettling and full of creeping dread like YEAR OF THE WITCHING or MEXICAN GOTHIC.

In general, here are some of the things I love to see in a manuscript:

    Intricate plots and complex emotional arcs
    Whipsmart protagonists who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. There’s nothing I love more than a main character who throws themselves into the thick of things and doesn’t look back.
    Female friendship, partnerships, rivalries, and everything in between are high up on my wishlist. Girls, girls, girls basically. I prefer narratives to be female driven, and I’d love to see more F/F romantic pairings.
    I’m a big fan of spies, assassins, thieves and other rogue-ish characters. I love, love, love heists.
    I’d love to see some great antiheroes or characters embarking on redemption arcs like Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.