Kathleen Rushall is the newest member of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She started as an intern at the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, and then spent two years at Waterside Productions. She looks forward to garnering fresh voices, strong narratives, and whimsical tales in all areas of young adult literature including contemporary fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and science fiction. She’s open to all genres of YA, but has a soft spot for thrillers, well-researched historical narratives, Southern gothic plots, humorous voices, and would love to find a dark mystery. Kathleen is also looking for funny, character-driven, quirky picture books and all genres of big voice middle grade fiction.
In addition to KidLit, she also represents select nonfiction and is interested in crafts, parenting, cooking, business, alternative medicine, women’s interest, humor, pop-culture, and some how-to.
Now on to the FIVE QUESTIONS
1. How important is a platform for new and established authors in the 21st century?
For nonfiction it can be very important. If you’re writing a nonfiction book as an expert on your topic, you ideally already have a voice and are a presence in that field. If you’re writing nonfiction, your book is most likely on a topic that you have fully engaged in professionally, and that’s the foundation of your platform. For debut fiction authors, it’s different. Of course it’s great if you’re active on Twitter in the writing or KidLit community, or if you love to blog, but really it comes down to your writing.
2. On your agency’s website, it states you are “open to all genres of YA, but has a soft spot for well-researched historical narratives, edgy or paranormal plots, humorous voices, and would love to find a dark mystery.” What does the novel have to have to draw you in?
Maybe it’s more about who the novel has to have to draw me in. I’m always looking for an unforgettable voice and strong character development. This is why I enjoy (and am open to representing) so many different genres within YA. No matter what kind of story it is, it’s the characters that make me keep reading.
3. What is the most common mistake most authors make when pitching an agent at a conference?
Make sure you approach the right person for your work. Do a little research beforehand and approach agents that you know represent your genre. The other thing is to try not to be too nervous. Just remember that agents and editors are people, too. We’re at the conference to meet authors and are happy to hear about your book!
4. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Always remember that books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. There isn’t a single book on shelves today that hasn’t ever had changes made to it, or been rejected before it was published. I know it’s a roller coaster process to publication, but embrace the ride as much as you can. You’re not alone! Community is important, both for support and education. You should absolutely have critique partners and join writing groups.
5. Finally, Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars will always be my favorite because I loved it as a kid. (I definitely missed school to dress up and go to the premiere of the first prequel…although that one was disappointing.) BUT, I have to give credit to Star Trek for all the incredible firsts it had—it was one of the first multicultural casts, with prominent roles for Japanese, Russian, and African-American characters, as well as the first interracial kiss shown on TV. That show is what inspired creators of Google Earth, as well as the palm-held cell phone, and NASA even named a spaceship after Enterprise. Hah, can you tell I’m a nerd? For world-building and cultural impact, I’d have to say Star Trek.