Hi! I’m Brenda’s blog assistant, Rae Chang. As writers, we all Google-stalk agents (and often editors). Come on, admit it, you do. And if you’ve done your homework – and you should have done your homework – you can probably rattle off your dream agent’s most recent sales, submission guidelines, history as an agent, favorite font, and caffeinated beverage.
But did you know that agents are people, too? Quirky, nerdy, hilarious, and downright interesting people?
These aren’t your standard interviews. These are about the people behind the profile pictures. The ones you would not only want championing your book, but also sitting at your coffee shop table, talking to you over something warm and delicious – caramel apple cider, if you’re me.
Note: This is NOT an invitation to coffee shop stalk them in real life. Be polite. Use common sense. If I find out you have used these interviews for evil purposes, be warned – I shall find you.
Rae: Well, since we met discussing food, I have to ask: what fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Jessica: So far, it’s from one of my clients’ manuscripts: a straw-apple cocktail. It’s effervescent, light, and enough to make an android girl happy and dizzy in love–so, yes, I think I’d like to try that. 🙂
Rae: Phew! If I drank, that would be on top of my list, too! How about real food? What is your work fuel of choice?
Jessica: Well, there’s my choice (a bin of chocolate-covered espresso beans, chocolate-covered corn flakes from Jacques Torres–don’t judge! They’re great!) and there’s what I can actually eat every day without having my teeth fall out and/or bouncing around the office, much to the annoyance of my colleagues. I always have some tea or coffee within sipping distance. I have one of those tumblers that’s hard to spill–kind of like a reusable version of the cup Starbucks puts cold drinks in. So there’s that. It’s much easier than having to unscrew a top every time I want to caffeinate, and I knock things over a lot, so it’s better than a mug. In terms of food…well, I do love eating pasta while reading diet books and women’s fiction. And pretty much in general.
Rae: Pasta . . . I dream of pasta way too often. So tell me, something awesome just happened in the office. (book deal, signed a client, etc). How do you celebrate?
Jessica: Actually, this is something I’m realizing more and more: I need to take time to celebrate. Usually I just cheer/yell out in the office, tell everyone I run into…and then get back to my enormous pile of things to do. I should really take more time to pause and enjoy. It’s so easy think, “I’m so busy, there isn’t time!”–well, I should make time. Being happy is worth it.
Rae: That’s some great insight! I’m sure all of us could stand to make time for celebration. But what about when something sucky happens? What gets you through one of these harder days?
Jessica: I actually started what I’m calling The Emergency Drinks Service–it’s a group for friends of friends in the industry. Basically, if you’ve had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, you can send an email to this one address and reach everyone at once. It’s good to have people to talk to who get immediately where you’re coming from. (Friends in other industries often do not.) So, there’s that. No one’s used it yet, though we did have an opening party. I hope I don’t have a reason to use it anytime soon–but I do want it to be there, just in case.
Rae: What an awesome idea! Now pretend the suckiest of all situations arises: you are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Jessica: Bare hands. I took karate for years, and really liked the idea of using only your hands (which, naturally, you always have with you) to defend yourself. Plus, it just seems…gentlemanly, in a way, though it’s messy–the way war with bayonets seems more sportsmanlike than war with remote missiles. Forces you to see, and feel, and acknowledge what you’re doing. I’m small, but I do get little bursts of superhuman (or super small human) strength. Once I managed to carry a small flat-packed dresser down several flights of subway stairs for a friend. I’m still not entirely sure how that happened.
Rae: Right . . . remind me to never get on your bad side. You hear that, guys? She’s a ninja/Jedi! And along that vein, who taught you the ropes (acted as your sensei/Jedi Master) when you were starting out as an agent?
Jessica: Everyone at my agency has been insanely supportive. There are many styles of agenting, and it’s helpful to have several lovely people to ask what they would do. I’ve learned who is more likely to have what answers (Steve is great when I want to be tough; Katharine is amazing with knowing what is fair, etc.), and sometimes ask accordingly, and sometimes poll the whole office.
Rae: Sounds like a great place to work! It’s always beneficial to be surrounded by great people. But say you could pick ANY client? What classic novel do you wish you could have represented back in the day?
Jessica: Sense and Sensibility, but I know that’s a cop-out. Mostly I just want to have tea with Jane Austen.
See, everyone? Didn’t I tell you she was great? If Jessica sounds like your kind of agent, do your homework, and send her some amazing queries!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Jessica, and may the queries ever contain exactly what you are seeking!