Introducing Joanna Volpe!

We are incredibly proud to introduce our next new member: Joanna Volpe. She’s an expert in all things book–from enjoying literature to editing it to selling it!

Joanna is a literary agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation. She represents all brands of fiction, from picture books to adult. She has an affinity for stories that have a darker, grittier element to them, whether they be horror, drama or comedy. Her recent publications include The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams (Ace), Divergent by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books), Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (Poppy), and Torn by Erica O’Rourke (KTeen). When Joanna is not reading (which is almost never), she can be found either cooking, playing video games, or hanging out with her husband and their chihuahua PeeWee on Long Island.

1. How did you become a literary agent? Did you know you always wanted to do this or…?

I didn’t know I always wanted to do this. In fact, I thought I wanted to be an author. I went into special education after college and I was writing in my free time and attending conferences, pitching to agents, querying…man, I do not miss the querying. But the truth is…I’m a terrible writer. But I was always great at working with writers. And I didn’t love teaching as much as I thought, but I’d always loved books…and…the rest is history!

2. Love of books = okay by us. But you must get “stuck” reading a lot of submissions. When you aren’t, what books do you enjoy?

I read a lot of middle grade, and some women’s fiction and definitely horror…I also read graphic novels, and I have a guilty pleasure…Us Weekly magazine!

3. Us Weekly? Win! Now when you’re reading those books (or submissions!), what do you find matters more to you: character or plot?

Character all the way. Character, and the writing style. You can always amp up a plot, but it’s hard to create a sense of style or a voice without feeling forced. That has to come naturally.

4. Too true! Character does seem to be something you can’t force. Let’s say a writer is having a tough time with his/her story–do you have a personal motto or favorite saying you’d give?

Well, I guess it depends on my mood. But one of my favorite quotes was said by Winston Churchill: If you’re going through hell, keep going. Very wise words, I think.

5. Very wise, indeed. Now, let’s say you’re at the pub: what are your food groups do you wanna eat?

Pizza and BBQ spare ribs…fried chicken is a close third.

6. Um, you can be in charge of our menu! That sounds like great pub food. 😉 So while you’re munching away on BBQ, what 3 authors would you want sitting at the bar with you?

Definitely Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, and Oscar Wilde. Two of them are among my favorite authors, and I like the third very much, so I would love to talk with them. But mostly, it’s because they’re all known to be such oddballs–and if we were hanging out and having a few beers? I don’t see that being anything but the BEST NIGHT EVER.

7. Definitely the best night ever! Especially when they start mixing up the literary cocktails! What elements would they include to make your ideal book-cocktail?

1 part fantasy, 1 part horror, with a dash of romance, shaken, not stirred.

Ooooh, fantasy + horror + romance? YES PLEASE. And shaken not stirred? You just won all of our hearts. 😉

As a huge fan of all things middle grade, Joanna is generously giving away a copy of her all-time fave: E.L. Konigsburg’s A View from Saturday.

Yep–you got it. Joanna is giving away a copy of this heartwarming, award-winning MG. All you have to do is fill out the raffle form below, and we’ll announce the winner NEXT WEEK (on Friday)!

We’re also throwing in a copy of Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer, Necromancer since we’re all big fans of necromancy in YA (Sooz’s series even features them!).

And, of course: be sure to tune in on Monday, when we introduce our final new member (and offer more fantabulous swag!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


80 Responses to Introducing Joanna Volpe!

  1. Marc Vun Kannon Jan 13 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Hello, Joanna. Congratulations on joining, this is a wonderful site.
    I notice you work for a literary & media agency. Do you represent works to films that you don’t represent as books? If so, are media queries any easier to write than literary queries, or are they the same thing? (‘Cause I suck at writing queries for my books.)

    • JoSV Jan 13 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Hi Marc,

      We do work in media, though I only represent transmedia properties (games-apps-merch-books). The goal is for a book to always be part of the process, whether the first step or after. Our film agent represents works to films that aren’t books first, however he is currently only working from referrals.

      My advice to you though is: No–the query-writing for both are very similar, so it’s not much easier.

      I hope that helps!


  2. Julie Jan 13 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Hey Joanna! Welcome to Pub Crawl! It’s great to have you here. 🙂

    • JoSV Jan 13 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Thanks, Julie!

  3. Emy Shin Jan 13 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Welcome, Joanna! Your ideal book-cocktail sounds delicious!

    • JoSV Jan 13 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks, Emy! I think these cocktails should be created for realz.
      Do we have a bartender in the house?

  4. Kaye M. Jan 13 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Hi, Joanna! So awesome to see you’re part of Pub Crawl now! My favorite MG of the moment is The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens – ironically enough, my mom also loves it, but we can’t get the middle-grader in the house (my little brother) to touch it. ><

    Also, yay for wanting to hang out with J.R.R. Tolkein. I have a feeling if the original Inklings were around, life would be so much better.

    • JoSV Jan 13 2012 at 9:32 am #

      Yes! Loved THE EMERALD ATLAS. Even my husband read it, and he’s kind of picky about the younger stuff he reads.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Sooz Jan 13 2012 at 9:35 am #

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY JOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! (That looks “Joo” instead of “Jo”–haha.) I’m so glad you’re in the group and we can share it with the WOOOORLD!! (It feels like an evil laugh should be inserted here–not sure why.)

    <3 <3

    As for my my favorite MG book, I'd have to say THE PENDERWICKS, and my fave book-featuring-a-necromancer is Kelley Armstrong's THE SUMMONING. 😀

    • JoSVolpe Jan 13 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Omg! I love THE PENDERWICKS!! And I haven’t read THE SUMMONING yet (which is a crime, since I’ve read most of her adult stuff).

      Stoked to be a part of Pub Crawl!

      • Amie Kaufman Jan 14 2012 at 12:27 am #

        Love, love, so much PENDERWICKS love! (You guys might love THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE and THE GIRL SAVAGE, incidentally, they’re both beautiful middle grade books with a similarly classic feel).

        I vote Joanna is in charge of the menu at the first ever in-person Pubcrawl shindig. Nom.

  6. savannahjfoley Jan 13 2012 at 9:37 am #

    My most recent favorite MG is the Underlander Chronicles, by Suzanne Collins. I bought it when I was trying to get into MG and it really showed me the essence of the genre.

    But my favorite MG of all time are the Jerry Spinelli books, like Maniac Magee and Wringer.

    • Caitlin Vanasse Jan 13 2012 at 6:31 pm #

      Oh goodness, Maniac Magee had me bawling in the middle of class.

      • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:55 pm #

        Jerry Spinelli has my heart for life.

  7. Zara Alexis Jan 13 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I read a lot of Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books when I was a kid. From those, I enjoyed “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” and “Blubber.” But if you want the truth, “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews may not be considered MG, but I was really into that series in Middle Grade. Being locked in an attic by evil relatives has got to put an impression on a child!

    Congrats Joanna (and Pee Wee) on joining Publishing Crawl.

    On Twitter: @ZaraAlexis

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks, Zara!

      And woah, Flowers in the Attic takes me way back. Definitely not considered MG material, but I totally read it when I was 11!

  8. Jen McAndrews Jan 13 2012 at 10:13 am #

    oh, totally fun interview! Can I hang at the pub, too? I have a sudden hankerin’ for BBQ ribs and a steady stream of literary cocktails. But first, I must thoroughly explore this blog… wait! I can do that with drink in hand, can’t I? Fab!

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      We can totally hit up a pub for our next lunch, Jen!

  9. Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 13 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Welcome welcome welcome, Jo! SO EXCITED THAT YOU’RE PART OF THE GROUP!!!!

    I’d have to say that I have a few MG faves:
    aaaaaannnd (though I haven’t finished it yet!)

    I also know I’m probably forgetting a bunch, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head!

    • Sammy Jan 15 2012 at 11:38 am #

      I still re-read ELLA ENCHANTED every summer, that’s how much I love that book.

      • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:54 pm #

        ZOMG…love all of those books!!

        I very much heart YA, but I have a special love for MG, and I think I have probably read more of it. So far every time someone has brought up another title on here, I’m all “DUUUUUUUDE. YES.”

        • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 19 2012 at 7:11 am #

          I’m going to start bothering you for some MG recommendations then, Jo! <3

      • Vanessa Di Gregorio Jan 19 2012 at 7:10 am #


  10. Erin Bowman Jan 13 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Hi Jo!!!!! *waves* So glad to have you as part of the group 🙂

    Favorite MG..,gosh, that’s hard. There are so many. Was HOLES and MG? (That books is brilliant). And in terms of favorite MGs this past year, hands down THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING. I loved that book soooo much.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      I consider HOLES more MG than YA, despite Stanley being 14.

      And good call. That book ROCKS.

  11. Lori M. Lee Jan 13 2012 at 10:30 am #

    That’s so cool that Joanna’s joined the awesome ranks here 🙂 My fav necromancer book… this might not count since it isn’t EXACTLY necromancy, but it has zombies? lol I really loved Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris!

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      Thanks, Lori…I’ve never read BAD TASTE IN BOYS. *hops on over to B&*

  12. Kat Zhang Jan 13 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Welcome, Jo! So happy you’re part of Pub Crawl!! 😀 😀

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      Thanks, Kat! I’m stoked, too 🙂

  13. Yael Itamar Jan 13 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Favorite middle grade book? Umm, I really liked The Graveyard Book. And Maniac Magee. I didn’t realize until I was in college that Maniac Magee was my childhood hero.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Neil Gaiman is one of my all time favorite authors for children’s and adult and graphic novels to boot. Good choice!

  14. SarahJMaas Jan 13 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    YAY, JO!!!!! So, so thrilled to have you join us!!!! 😀 😀 😀

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Thanks, Sarah! <333

  15. Adriana Marachlian Jan 13 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Hiiiii Jo! And welcomeeeeeee!! So excited that you’re here 😀

    Favorite MG book… Can I say anything by Diana Wynne Jones? Yes? Ok 🙂 ALso the first few books of the Percy Jackson series, because those are considered MG, right? I believe they are.

    Favorite book with a necromancer would be THE SUMMONING by Kelley Armstrong.


    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      You can definitely include the brilliant Diana Wynne Jones. Love, love, love her.

      Percy Jackson is very much MG. I love Percy! So easy to root for him.

      It is seriously embarrassing that I haven’t read THE SUMMONING yet. 😛

  16. Hannah Jan 13 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Hi Jo!

    My favourite MG would have to be The Girl with the Silver Eyes. I read it over and over when I was younger.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      Woah. I just looked this up–how did I miss this?? I was at a ripe age for it, too!
      Thanks for pointing me to it….

  17. Leigh Bardugo Jan 13 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Welcome, Jo!!! I applaud both your interview and your fondness for fried chicken.

    Favorite middle grade… A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET by Madeleine L’Engle. That’s MG, yes?

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      Yeah, L’Engle is pretty much my idol. Did you know that her writing space was at the top of a tower she had constructed in her house? TOO COOL.

      Just like with HOLES, I consider this more MG by today’s standards, despite Charles Wallace’s age.

      That series takes me back!

  18. Michelle V. Jan 13 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Welcome Joanna! Can I attend your awesome BBQ? Great and fun read. It was nice to meet you.

    Island of the Blue Dolphins was my favorite MG book, growing up. I don’t remember how many times I read it.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Hello! Thanks for stopping by!

      My BBQ’s are usually open to all, so come on down 🙂

      Island of the Blue Dolphins, my! I haven’t read that one in YEARS…might have to take that copy off the shelf to reread….

  19. Jasmine Stairs Jan 13 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I probably would have to say my favourite MG books are still Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus books. I just love them, and they seem to get better with every book.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:16 pm #

      Yes! Rick Riordan is a modern-day-master at adventure MG.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Caitlin Vanasse Jan 13 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Oh my goodness, Joanna Volpe. I can’t quite believe you’re part of Pub Crawl, this is amazing. Also you have to ask such a difficult question! My fav. book with necromancers is probably Sabriel, but as someone who reads far more MG’s than her age would suggest asking me to pick a favorite is totally unjust. I was really really impressed by When You Reach Me and no one else has mentioned it yet so I’ll go with that for now.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:17 pm #


      Brilliant call.

      And wow, you’re right! No one has mentioned WHEN YOU REACH ME yet, but that was Oh-so-good.

  21. Marina Jan 13 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Welcome, welcome welcome! Middle Grade? Ehm… Artemis Fowl. I adore Artemis Fowl. And the Tamora Pierce books, although some of them tend to be for older readers too.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      I forgot about Artemis! Those books are good fun.

      And Tamora Pierce has mastered both MG and YA, I think. I don’t know where I would be today without Alanna.

  22. April Tucholke Jan 13 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    There are some great books mentioned here: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sabriel, anything L’Engle, that awesome Girl Fairyland Ship book, Flowers in the Attic (!). Has anyone said The Giver? I’ve read that so many times. Also Where the Red Fern Grows, and Tuck Everlasting, and Dragon’s Blood, and I Am the Cheese, and My Father’s Dragon, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, and The Hobbit.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:19 pm #


      Amazo Book Collection overload.

      You are TOO right.


  23. Chele Jan 13 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Hii, Joanna! Sign me up for pizza and BBQ ribs ;D

    Rick Riordan’s currently top of my fav list for MG books – I know the last couple books of the first Percy Jackson series are more YA, but the Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus are pretty epic too! And necromancy-wise, the Abhorsen trilogy WINS, hands down.

    …I KNOW I’m forgetting a long long list here, but meeh it’s a losing battle every time I try to list all of my favs ;P

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Yup, yup and yup.

  24. Sammy Jan 13 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Yay, Jo! So excited you’re finally here!

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      I know! Keeping the secret has not been easy!

  25. Meredith Anderson Jan 13 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    Welcome, Joanna! So nice to see you here at the Pub. Meeting all of the new additions is so exciting! I’m definitely looking forward to reading your posts!

    As for my favorite MG or Necromancy book, I haven’t read too many Necromancy books, but as for dark and eerie middle grade, The Graveyard Book was downright fantastic. 😀


    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:23 pm #

      If you liked that book, have you picked up CORALINE yet? Same author. Just as good.

  26. April X Jan 14 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I’m not sure if it’s a completely necromancy book, but I love The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong 🙂 And I love The Percy Jackson series (I think it’s MG?)

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Yup, Percy is MG, and the Kelly Armstrong books are necromancy.

      Thanks for stopping by to say hello!

  27. Jessica Jan 14 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Joanna! I wouldn’t mind having a few beers with Oscar Wilde either.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      Right? The dude is so interesting and…odd. You never know what he’s going to say next.
      Do people like him exist anymore?

  28. Jessica Jan 14 2012 at 11:30 am #

    The drinks and Wilde made me forget to mention my favorite middle grade book. Right now, it’s The Unwanteds.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      I just read that this summer! It’s SO fun.

  29. Ella Jan 14 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Welcome Joanna! : D

    I don’t read that much MG, unfortunately, so I’ll go for the other half of the question. My favorite story involving necromancy is, without a doubt, Sabriel. It has some of the most interesting and original world building I’ve ever read, not to mention an amazing heroine.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      *nods in enthusiastic agreement*

      Thanks for the welcome!

  30. Sophia Chang Jan 15 2012 at 5:36 am #

    I LERV No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong – sexy redhead necromancer and her alpha wolf love interest. Can’t get any better than that.

    MG lately would be Elliot and the Goblin War – HILARIOUS and great voice.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:33 pm #

      Oooo, never read that one! Just looked it up–love the cover.

      I am a huge fan of goblins in general, so this just made the To-Read list!

  31. Bee Jan 15 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    So awesome to see Joanna here! 😀

    My favourite middle grade book would be WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER by Sally Nicholls. That was one little bit of absolute perfection. For fun, the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books are side-splitting.

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      The DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series is on my top 10 favorite books ever. Truly Jeff Kinney is a master of intentional-unintentional humor. MASTER.

      I’ve never read WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER, but I just read the description and got chills. Thank you for the rec!

  32. Hayley G Jan 15 2012 at 4:17 pm #


    My favourite Necromancer book would have to be the Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. Love this series! 🙂

    • JoSV Jan 15 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      That’s it, must read this book now. You’re like the 10th person on this list to bring it up.

      Thanks for posting, Hayley!

  33. Joan Jan 16 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Welcome!! This is very exciting! Can’t wait for the new posts we’ll be seeing 🙂

  34. Yahong Jan 17 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Oh man, I love MG so hard-core I’m pretty sure you’re killing me just by asking this question. But for now I’ll go with Windblowne by Stephen Messer. I’m a sucker for MG fantasy. 😛

  35. Small Review Jan 18 2012 at 12:33 am #

    “1 part fantasy, 1 part horror, with a dash of romance, shaken, not stirred.”

    YES please! That sounds like the perfect combo 🙂

    There are so many amazing MG books out there, but I can’t not mention The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I adore the Penderwick girls. I shove those books at every MG girl that walks into my library (ok, maybe I don’t shove it at them, but I sort of clutch it to my chest and tell them I lovelovelove it and they should totally try it too. Which usually works, though that might just be to placate the crazy library lady). 😛

  36. Atheena C. Jan 18 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Diary of a Whimpy Kid:> HAHAHAA!

  37. Sarah S Jan 18 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi, Joanna! Thanks for the interview — looking forward to learning more about another side of the literary buisness.
    As for favorite MG books, I have to agree with all the L’Engle fans. As a kid, I loved both the Wrinkle in Time series and the Austin family series. Also, does anyone remember My Side of the Mountain? It made me want to carve out a hole in a tree and live in it! 🙂

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