Natasha Panza began her publishing career at Fiction Collective Two, an experimental, literary small press based in Tallahassee, Florida. But bright lights and city streets were calling her name, so she packed her bags for New York City, where she was hired by Tom Doherty and Associates. She works with a variety of authors in a variety of genres and is currently acquiring chick lit and mysteries.
Shalla: Hello Natasha. Everyoneâ€™s excited about Tor/Forge acquiring chick lit novels and itâ€™s so nice of you to be here to tell us more about it.
Natasha: Itâ€™s a pleasure. Weâ€™re pretty excited as well.
Shalla: Your new Guidelines say youâ€™re not looking for the standard NY City chick lit. Does that mean no Sex and the City type of stories? Can it still be set in NY or Los Angeles?
Natasha: Iâ€™m always open to books that contain strong female bonds. But female bonding doesnâ€™t always have to happen at a trendy bar, teetering on your stiletto Jimmy Choos, hoping your extra fruity martini wonâ€™t slosh over your new Prada blouse. Iâ€™m tired of reading about the â€œfabulous lifeâ€ (i.e, fabulous job, fabulous car, fabulous everything . . .). I mean, whose life is that fabulous anyway?
I want different lives, strange lives, completely bizarre lives. I live and work in New York City, and while I have to admit, there are woman out there who can afford to dress and entertain like Carrie Bradshaw, most of us not only canâ€™t, we donâ€™t really want to. We have our own style, our own brand of humor; weâ€™re smart and sassy and we have stories to tell. And Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s the same from the smallest town to the largest metropolis.
Of course, big cities like NYC and LA are still wonderful locations for novels and those submissions will still be considered.
Shalla: Are you open to multi-cultural chick lit?
Natasha: Most definitely. In fact, I strongly encourage writers to submit novels with multicultural protagonists. As a multicultural chick myself, I want to see more women like me in the books I read.
Shalla: The Guidelines say youâ€™re open to paranormal chick lit. What do you consider paranormal chick lit? (Ie. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom meets Ellen? Is Goddess for Hire paranormal chick lit?)
Natasha: Iâ€™m not really looking to put too many boundaries on my definition of paranormal, because you never know what is going to work and whatâ€™s not until you read it.
Shalla: Now, letâ€™s talk S-E-X. Can it be too sexy? No S&M? No transgendersâ€™ mating rituals?
Natasha: Hmmm, well I love sex..(now Iâ€™m blushing)..but seriously, I think it is important to put a little steaminess in a chick lit novel, because letâ€™s be honest here, arenâ€™t we all more than a little disappointed when the heroine is left high and dry? I know I am. That being said, Iâ€™m not looking for erotica.
Shalla: Does it have to have a happy ending? Does the woman need to get the guy in the end?
Natasha: I like happy endings. But happy can be bittersweet. And getting the guy on a permanent basis isnâ€™t always what a woman wants.
When a protagonist learns something powerful or positive about herself in the course of the novelâ€”thatâ€™s a happy ending too.
Shalla: Can it have little to no romance? (Ie. Protagonist has one night stands here and there with no significant romantic relationship?)
Natasha: No. Romance is important in a chick lit novel. Without romance, what kind of book is it? Besides, romance should be present in peopleâ€™s lives–and if itâ€™s not, then a great book can provide that.
Shalla: How funny is funny? Is screw ball comedy okay?
Natasha: Screwball, no. Iâ€™m not looking for slapstick because it doesnâ€™t usually translate well into text. But funnyâ€”yes. I love funny.
Shalla: Are you open to first person point of view? Multiple POV? First person-present? What do you think of first person-present?
Natasha: Iâ€™m not the biggest fan of first person-present, but I am open to anything that is done well. Shalla: Any movies, sitcoms, books etc. we can look at to get a better feel on what Tor/Forge is looking for?
Natasha: TV: Desperate Housewives. Or Desperate Housewives meets Charmed. Girlfriendsâ€”or Girlfriends meets Bewitched. Practical Magic (the movie). The Mummy meets Bridget Jonesâ€™ Diary.
Shalla: Finally, any big NO-NOâ€™s? (I.e.. No e-queries or e-submissions, snail-mail only)
Natasha:No query letters, no email queries, no e-submissions, no faxes; please, snail-mail only! A complete submission guideline is available at our website www.tor.com/torforgechicklit.pdf
Shalla: Thanks lots Natasha! We look forward to seeing you at RWA Nationals. For more on Natasha and Tor/Forge, please visit http://wwwitor.com
Shalla de Guzman writes multicultural, fantasy and paranormal novels with a chick lit tone. A former writer and producer of a health and fitness cable show, Shalla enjoys presiding over her latest project, the ShalladeGuzman Writers Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ShalladeGuzman/She is a member of OCC/RWA Chapter and FF&P. Please visit Shalla at http://www.shalledeguzman.com