Thursday, April 30, 2015

0 Agent Arielle Datz from Dunow, Carlson & Lerner on What Works When Writing, & What Doesn't

Arielle Datz is looking for fiction (adult, YA, or middle-grade), both realistic or fantasy/sci-fi. In nonfiction, she is looking for essays, unconventional memoir, pop culture, and sociology.

Arielle grew up in Southern California, and then attended the University of Chicago, where she majored in English. She lived in Paris her junior year of college, and then spent two years in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after graduation, before venturing to New York.

She started as an intern at Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner in 2011, and then worked in the foreign rights department at WME, followed by 2 years at the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency. She have now returned to DCLA full-time, and absolutely loves it there.



1.What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

In YA:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: I love Frankie’s voice and her way with words.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I love all of Rainbow Rowell’s work, particularly how well she writes girls and women. In Fangirl, the way she talks about fandom, and its relationship to writing and reading in general, is inspiring.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: This book lit me up. The writing was just so, so beautiful.

In adult: I love Salman Rushdie, Italo Calvino, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Atwood, to name a few. Recently I adored Station Eleven, Glen Duncan’s werewolf trilogy, The Bone Clocks, and Tigerman.

2. What are some things you love to see in a query?

I love to see confidence in the book, and that the author has done their research – they are a reader of the genre in which they wish to be published, they know what they could be compared to in both books and other media, and they know why their book needs to exist.

3. What are some of the worst things you've seen in a query?

I’ve contributed a few gripes to the #querytip thread on Twitter (and I recommend reading those), but here’s a few things. I can tell when a writer hasn’t done their research – both on me and my agency, or on the market they wish to enter. Moreover, I can tell when a writer isn’t a reader, and that breaks my heart.

4. Are you an editorial agent?

I’m still figuring out what kind of agent I am, but I think so – I like to work closely on revisions before submission. After a book has sold to a publisher, it’s case-by-case; I am happy to help an author work through revisions, and I am also happy taking a hands-off approach, if I feel like the author/editor relationship is solid and I’m not needed.

5. Character, world, or plot?

All are important. If one is conspicuously lacking, the others don’t click for me. This is not to say that all three are required – there are excellent books where nothing happens, or where the world doesn’t play a huge role – but those take impeccable writing.

6. Can you define voice for us?

I’m not sure I can! Here’s my attempt: in YA, the voice is the narration, and must be authentically the character’s. It must also feel real, and fully-defined. If the voice feels inauthentic, or I can feel the writer’s voice permeating their character, it can derail me as a reader.

7. What do you like to do for fun?

I sing in a semi-professional classical vocal ensemble. I watch far too much television; reading is not my only source of escapism. I consume stories. I also like taking walks.

8. What genres are you drawn to most?

I think I am most drawn to realism, or speculative fiction that is very subtle – where one element is unusual, but very believable. I like fantasy and sci-fi, but they have to be executed flawlessly. Total immersion in a purely fantastical world does not come easily for me.

9. Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?

The optimist in me wants to say emotional connection, because if that’s there and I get it in front of the right editor, hopefully it will take off. However, publishing is a business, and if I don’t think I’ll be able to sell it, I won’t take it on. I’m looking for that sweet spot: manuscripts that electrify me and that I think will electrify others.

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