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. 😉
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!).