I am particularly fond of today’s guest. She happens to be my literary agent and someone whose reading tastes I trust implicitly. I’ve had the joy of working with Elisabeth for exactly two years now and I can’t imagine any author having a better champion. As part of our ongoing series, I asked her to share two novels with you today, one that she represented and one that she didn’t. It’s a fascinating peek into what captures the attention of an agent on a professional and personal level.
I remember getting Teri’s query for her debut, THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY (originally titled UNBOUNDED) weeks after my son was born in the spring of 2008. I immediately fell in love with her novel and jumped on the phone with her in a sleep deprived state. Lucky for me, my enthusiasm outweighed my postpartum haze and Teri signed with me. Within days of submitting the novel we were in a bidding war which ended with a two book deal with Shaye Areheart/Crown Books.
The Moon Sisters, which became that second book, tells the story of Olivia and Jazz Moon, two very different sisters, in the wake of their mother’s probable suicide. Olivia, the younger, free-spirited sister (who has synesthesia—she can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights–something that Teri pulls off magically) is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest. Jazz, the older more practical sister, is forced to follow along and make sure she stays out of trouble. Along the way, these two connect over their family and their loss in a truly heartbreaking and emotionally satisfying way.
Second novels can be hard for authors, but Teri rose to the occasion with The Moon Sisters. What’s been so exciting for me is to see her push herself to new heights as a writer. I am always fascinated with how books come into existence for an author and knowing that this book was inspired by the true journey of the author and her own two sisters as they recovered from the grief of their dad’s death made it all the more special. Teri’s attention to language is spot on–reviews have referred to it as “luminous” and I think that is a perfect word for her writing. Put that language to use in the bogs of West Virginia, full of will-o’-the-wisp lights, synesthesia, some train-hopping and a touch of magical realism and you have yourself a really powerful read.
I was first introduced to Pavone (who I actually met back when he was a book editor) with his debut thriller THE EXPATS, a really fun, fast-paced read with a female protagonist who is not exactly what she seems. It’s such a good page-turner, with so many twists and turns that when I gave it to my husband to read, he dropped the ball on picking up the kids, using the fact that he needed to finish the book before he did anything else. So, when Pavone’s editor, Zack Wagman, told me that his second thriller was based in the world of publishing, with a female literary agent as its protagonist no less, I stalked him regularly until he sent me a galley.
THE ACCIDENT involves an anonymous manuscript with secrets so dire that everyone from heads of media companies to the CIA are willing to do anything to stop if from coming to light. So when it lands on literary agent Isabel Reed’s desk, basically everyone in publishing is at risk. As someone who works in publishing, this was such a fun read. Even though nothing as exciting as the plot happens in real life publishing, the author draws such realistic characters–there’s the eager assistant, the down-on-his-luck editor, the fed up foreign rights agent and the slimy film agent–who all want a piece of this story, without making any of them cliched. And, of note, I made my husband read this as well, and he loved it so I would say you are in for a treat regardless of where you work.