This month Around Town lingers in New York with an interview with literary agent and author (and fellow Italian food aficionado), Lucienne Diver.
Lucienne is a sixteen year veteran of the publishing business. She began as an agent at NYCâ€™s Spectrum Literary Agency and moved last year to the dynamic Knight Agency (http://www.knightagency.net/). She represents over forty authors of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense and romance. Sheâ€™s a member of the Association of Authorsâ€™ Representatives (AAR), RWA, MWA and SFWA.
She is also the author of the young adult novel VAMPED, a May 2009 trade paperback release from Flux. I had the opportunity to interview Lucienne about her new book and how she juggles being both an agent and an author.
1. Congratulations on your new release! Please tell us about it–what kind of book is it? What’s it about?
Thank you so much! VAMPED is a young adult novel about Gina Covello, a teen fashionista who goes from chic to eek when she’s bitten by the geeky class chess champ turned vampire hottie at the after-prom party. Now in addition to wrestling her hair into submission and learning to apply make up without a mirror, sheâ€™s suddenly got to reinvent herself without her former social status. Which would be bad enough, except that the vampiress who turned her geek-boy sire (and new boyfriend) wants him all to herself for the fulfillment of some prophecy, which also seems to involve turning Ginaâ€™s former classmates into an undead army. In order to claw her way back to the top, Gina has to find a way to stop the vixen vampiress and save her classmates from fashion and other disasters.
2. Where did you get the idea for this story?
I used to have trouble torturing my characters. And then I â€œmetâ€ Gina. She started talking in my head one day, a newly made vamp-inista who thinks that a life without tanning options amounts to true horror. The idea intrigued me. So I wrote a story in which I threw everything I could at her. But Gina was wilier than I gave her credit for and not only weathered it all, but turned things to her ultimate advantage. My respect for her as a character grew, and it was only when I could love her as much as I could hate her that I was able to feature her in an entire series. Yes, sometimes it scares me that I talk about my characters as if they really exist, but for me they do.
3. You are also a well-respected literary agent. Do you think writers hesitate to sign with an agent who also writes? What is your experience with this?
I work very hard on behalf of my authors, and they know it. I also work to keep my writing and my agenting as very separate things, though, of course, one informs the other. The skills that Iâ€™ve learned editing my own work help me provide useful feedback to my authors. The empathy I feel for writers with the submission/rejection process shows in my response times. Also, I feel more in tune with the entire process from idea generation through publication because Iâ€™ve gone through it. There are actually a good number of both agents and editors who write. Many of us got into the business not only because of our love of reading, but of creating and of language in general. Iâ€™m sure there are writers out there concerned about pros who also write, but none of them have expressed it to me (knocking on wood as I type).
4. I work full time as well as write, and I know it can be a tap dance sometimes. How do you juggle the two careers?
Well, three if you count motherhood *g*
5. What are you working on next?
Iâ€™ve just turned in to my agent the first book in a new young adult series about teen witches. Next up, a middle-grade idea thatâ€™s been nagging away at me.
6. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Donâ€™t give up and donâ€™t let rejection get you down. Rejection is part of the process. Itâ€™s not a reflection on you or even, necessarily, of your work, but often on the needs of the market or the tastes of the person to whom youâ€™re pitching. If any advice is given about how to improve your work, take it as a sign that the agent or editor saw something worth nurturing. Take it under advisement. Keep writing, revising, growing. The road to publication is a journey and youâ€™ll never make it to the goal if you get disheartened and stop along the way.
Thank you so much, Lucienne!
If you would like more information on Lucienne Diver, she maintains a blog of agenting and authorial musings: http://varkat.livejournal.com/ and can also be found via her author site: http://www.luciennediver.com/.
See you all around town!
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