Friday, May 2, 2014

Meet the Editors and Agents Attending the Willamette Writers 2014 Conference



by Cornelia Seigneur

You had me at Academy Award-winning movie, The English Patient, based upon the novel by Michael Ondaatje. But literary agent Susan Schulman’s bio credits don’t stop there. Past sales include Holes, by Louis Sachar for Disney, and Enemies: A Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer for motion picture remake. In addition to her books to movie sales, her publishing credentials are off the chart. Susan’s bio just doesn’t fit in a short blog post.

Neither does my excitement for the 30 literary agents and editors I have the privilege of bringing to the 2014 Willamette Writers Conference this year.

Take Genevieve Gagne-Hawes, who’s been with Writers House for 10 years, and discovered Stephenie Meyers’ “Twilight” manuscript in the submissions pile when she was still an assistant to another literary agent.

And Daniel Loedel, an Assistant Editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, who represents Academy-Award winning actor and director Kevin Costner, whose illustrated novel The Explorers Guild is set for 2016 publication.

And of course there’s Ken Sherman, who represents David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars, a 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award winner. Ken returns for his second year, taking book pitches, and, new this year, film pitches.

A year and a half ago, my friend Mary Andonian, who was then program chair for the Willamette Writers Conference, asked me to apply for the literary chair position of the 2013 Conference. I was honored to be asked. As a long time fan of the Willamette Writers, I have had a variety of roles over the years: attendee, volunteer, speaker. In addition to my involvement with Willamette Writers, I have been involved with Oregon Writers Colony and the Faith & Culture Writers, among other literary creative organizations.

The role of literary coordinator intrigued me from the get go. Meeting literary agents and editors is always a highlight of past conference experiences for me over the years.

Now, I am in my second year of serving as literary chair selecting the 30 agents and editors that the Willamette Writers bring in from New York to LA and places in between.

My goal this this year was to expand the depth and range of agents who represent diverse voices and genres. I also wanted to bring in more editors. It was important to ask familiar agents to our conference to return as well as invite new names to our game. I wanted agents who have been in the business for a while and I also sought out fresh faces, hungry to discover new voices. I liked the idea of hosting agents who represent familiar, award-winning authors/books as well as agents and editors who represent the smaller authors and books. What I wanted in a word: variety.

Besides those mentioned above, here is just a sampling of other literary agents and editors represented this year:

Courtney Reed, an Assistant Editor at Henry Holt and Company, who has worked on numerous fiction and non-fiction titles including Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies—both Man Booker prize winners—and Mantel’s forthcoming collection of contemporary short stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

Noah Ballard, who is an agent at Emma Sweeney Agency, whose client list includes Justin Taylor, Tom O’Donnell, Janet Burroway, Mark Wisniewski and Craig Russell.

And among the returning literary agents is Angela Rinaldi, who represents the 8-million copy bestseller Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson from Putnam Books.

Find full bios of the 30 agents and editors here http://willamettewriters.com/wwcon/biographies/agenteditor-bios/

And be sure to register early: Agent and editor slots fill up quickly.

www.Corneliaseigneur.com