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An Interview with John M. Cusick

Monday, 20 January 2014  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Notebook and coffee

And we’re back with another phenomenal interview!

For those of you just tuning in, here’s my spiel: 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. Enjoy!


Today’s interview is with John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary!


Rae: Who would you pick to write your bio? What would it be titled? And if it were optioned to a movie, who would play you?

John: I’d want my bio to be written by Mary Karr, and it would probably be titled something like “Everything, All at Once, Forever” (I have a pillow with this motto stitched on it). I’d like to say I’d be played by Robert Downey Jr., but that’s being awfully generous to myself. Probably more like Jason Bateman.


Rae: I think everyone secretly wants Robert Downey, Jr. to play them. What fictional academy/university/school would you most want to attend? (i.e. Starfleet Academy, Hogwarts, Jedi Academy, Camp Halfblood, Battle School in Space, Beauxbatons, etc)

John: I’ll enroll in Ms. Frizzle’s class, thank you.


Rae: Yes! Another non-Hogwarts answer! Sign me up for the next field trip! So which fictional character would chaperone your field trip and be your confidante?

John: I’d like to say John Watson, though this is a bit of a cheat because I should pick a fictional book character and I’m totally picturing Martin Freeman from the BBC television series. I’ll confess that, as I was once a sixteen-year-old boy who wanted to be a writer, Hunter S. Thompson was a big hero of mine. I’d sometimes look to his Raoul Duke persona for some good/bad advice.


Rae: No, I understand. Watson is a pretty sweet pick! What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?

John: Easy. The Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Said to feel like having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.


Rae: If you ever find one, I want to be watching your reaction with a big shield and popcorn. But what’s this?! You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, everlasting gobstopper of doom, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)

John: Sonic screwdriver. No! Wait. LASER screwdriver…


Rae: Like a cross between a sonic screwdriver and a lightsaber? I like the way you think. During this epic duel and your subsequent adventures, what song(s) would play in the soundtrack to your life?

John: I keep an ever-changing “Master of the Universe” playlist to get me pumped up. Right now, the first few songs are Champion by Kanye West, Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun, and Time to Pretend by MGMT..


Rae: (Quick, everyone! Homework! Make a “Master of the Universe” playlist! Go!) What’s your best rainy day book? Beach book?

John: Rainy day book would probably be a big ol’ Russian novel like The Brothers Karamazov. I like to dip into those now and then (though I haven’t read one all the way through since college). Beach book would be something by Stephen King or a good pulpy mystery.


Rae: What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)

John: I’m a big caffeine hound and always write with a cup of coffee, though lately I’ve been drinking Lady Grey Tea by the bucket.


Rae: Something awesome just happened (book deal, signed a client, etc). How do you celebrate?

John: I turn up my jam-of-the-moment (maybe Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”) and dance like no one is watching (though my neighbors can probably totally see me). Then, a celebratory cocktail with friends, methinks.


Rae: And when something sucky happens? What gets you through one of these harder days?

John: My kitchen is my safe space. When life is stressful, disappointing, or disastrous, I’ll scrub it down and tackle a new recipe. I handled the Holiday Stress by honey glazing an enormous ham, infusing rum with butter, making Vietnamese Pho broth from three pounds of chicken necks, and making quiche (I love quiche).


Rae: First Brianne, now you. You’re both making me hungry. (Btw, any of you who don’t know what pho is, go try it NOW. Don’t ask questions. GO.) Who taught you the ropes (i.e. was your Jedi Master) when you were starting out as an agent?

John: Firstly and foremostly, Scott Treimel, who was my boss, agent, and mentor for the first five years of my career. He taught me the ins-and-outs of the business, from deal making through royalty calculations, the fun stuff and the nitty-gritty. Robin Rue at Writers House is sort of my Fairy God-Agent. She’s given me invaluable guidance from the get-go. I also sought a lot of early advice from my first pal in the business, Vicki Lame, who is an editor at St. Martin’s. She was my first editor lunch and has been a kind of sister-in-arms ever since..


Rae: All right, lastly, what classic novel do you wish you could have represented back in the day?

John: I’d have loved to represent Wuthering Heights. Most stories of that era were mannerly and understated, whereas Emily Bronte had her characters cursing and spitting and biting and throwing chairs at each other. I love that story for how different it is from its contemporaries. I would love to have been its faithful advocate.  


Pho and throwing chairs. Isn’t he awesome, guys? And he’ll be stopping by for PITCH WARS!

He also has an awesome book out: CHERRY MONEY BABY

Cherry MoneyRead more about it here!

Didn’t make Pitch Wars? No prob. If John sounds like your kind of agent, do your homework, and send him some amazing queries!  Thanks so much for stopping by, John, and may the queries ever contain exactly what you are seeking!

Don’t feel like your MS is ready for agent eyes? Head over to bleedinginkinc.wordpress.com and try out the homework exercises I’ve been giving to Team “Here There Be Monsters.” You may just find the missing piece of your MS!

Filed: Interviews

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