Monday, July 6, 2015

Literary Sparks. Chatting With My Agent -- Jen Doktorski


 We’re blogging about “sparks” this month and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to interview my agent, Kerry Sparks (Levine Greenberg Rostan). I met Kerry through the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature (RUCCL.org) in 2009. When I read in her bio that she liked books with a cinematic feel, I knew I had to send her my manuscript. I soon discovered she shared my love of film, contemporary fiction, and the gone-too-soon series My So Called Life. After reading my full manuscript, Kerry offered me representation and sold my first YA novel three months later. Needless to say, she rocks! In addition to me, Kerry represents National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos, best-selling authors Jennifer Niven and Susan Wittig Albert, illustrator and author Mark Pett, and 27 Jennifers. Okay, maybe not 27 Jennifers, but she’s getting there. Jenny Torres Sanchez, Jenny Lundquist, Jennifer Mann, Jennifer Bass, Jennifer Gray Olson,  and Jenny Manzer are all on her roster.

1.      When you read a manuscript, what makes it spark for you?
The voice. Always the voice. The voice has to hook me and make me agree to go anywhere with that character. Plot, pacing, character development, all of those can be worked on, but if the voice isn’t there, then the reader won’t be either. 
 
2.      Aside from your clients’ manuscripts, what have you read recently and loved?

In kids lit recently I’ve loved E. Lockhart’s WE WERE LIARS and Jandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN.
 
3.      Ever read anything by Nicholas Sparks, or listened to the indie band Sparks Fly from a Kiss or Taylor Swift’s “Sparks Fly” (Trying to build on the theme here and BTW, I liked Taylor better when she was country.)

No, no, and no. I’m a terrible Sparks apparently. But I love the name and the guy who gave it to me—I married into years ago and never looked back! On principal, I never would have considered changing my name, but come on, Sparks is too good to pass up. My name is a verb now which fits me quite well! 

4.      How about movies or TV? Any recent favs?

With a toddler at home, I rarely get to go to the theatre any more. Sadly. But so many things I want to see! 

My favorite TV show right now is TRUE DETECTIVE, which is (and should be) everyone’s favorite show right now. I also love VEEP, THE COMEBACK, THE FALL, LUTHER, THE LEAGUE, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this in print but my guilty pleasure is THE BACHELORETTE. This season is stupid good that I almost understand how people watch it earnestly (though I maintain that I hate-watch it ironically). So judging by this list I love ridiculous comedy and super dark thrillers.

5.      Who were your favorite authors growing up?

I loved Mary Downing Hahn and read all her books but I think STEPPING ON THE CRACKS was my favorite. I read V.C. Andrews as well, which seems so strange to me now. Of course Judy Bloom. Also I loved FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER. And my favorite picture book of all time as a kid was OVER AND OVER by Charlotte Zolotow.

6.      Is it true authors named Jennifer, or those willing to change their name to Jennifer or some variation thereof, have a better chance of being offered representation by you?

No, no. Just a lucky coincidence! And also, it was the most popular name for many, many, many years.

7.      Okay, just kidding about the Jennifer thing. Who does have a good chance of being represented by you?

A good writer who is a good egg, who can catch my attention with a great book.
 
8.      Any plans to write another book? I think HELLO, MY NAME IS PABST:  Baby Names for Nonconformist, Indie, Geeky, DIY, Hipster, and Alterna-Parents of Every Kind is the perfect shower gift for soon-to-be parents!

Not at the moment. But we do keep the blog active if you want to get real live name inspiration at www.mynameispabst.com. And the book is great for naming characters as well.

9.      Are you accepting submissions? What’s the best way for authors to reach you?

Yes, always. Authors can email me directly at ksparks@lgrliterary.com. Email me a query letter in the body of the email with the manuscript attached in a Word document. If I’m interested, I’ll be in touch.

Kerry and I at my launch party in 2013.
 

5 comments:

  1. Thanks Jen, this was a great way to start my day...funny and very informative.

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  2. Love this, Jen. And LOVE Kerry. PS: My mother almost named me Jennifer :)

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    1. Thanks, Jody! I did not know you were almost a Jennifer :).

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