Tuesday, 31 July 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: Interview with Agent Melissa

I find it scary that with each post, and week, we get closer to THE LOST GIRL's pub day! Eeeek. I'm giving stuff away, though, so if this is your first stop, go over here or to the TLG Palooza page to find out what I'm giving away and how to enter.

I'm VERY excited today. I have Agent Melissa with us (she doesn't know that this is how I refer to her, always, but I do. But if you must know, her real name is Melissa Sarver and she's my agent (I know! Cool, hey?). She's with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency and she's here with me today to tell us about what she does, what she likes, and why she wanted to rep THE LOST GIRL/me.)

Hi, Melissa! Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

But, Sangu, don’t you know everything about me already?  Oh, ok.  I’m a literary agent and have been with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency for 6 years after a brief 3-year stint as an editorial assistant at a women’s magazine.  That was not for me.  I moved to NYC 11 years ago after college in Boston and more than a few internships at magazines and newspapers.  I knew as soon as I started working in book publishing that I had found my “home.”   I enjoy being on the agency side of the business because I can essentially choose the types of projects I work on.  I’m never going to inherit a project someone else took on and left, the way editors often have to.  I represent fiction and non-fiction, so in any given day I’m working on a cookbook, a YA novel, a memoir, etc.  It keeps my job very interesting.  What else do you need to know … I am a musical theatre nut and spent much of my life (age 3 – 22) in a ballet studio.  I love food (but hate the word foodie) and do a fair amount of cooking and baking at home, and eating out at some amazing restaurants in NYC.  I love French and Italian wines that aren’t fruit-forward but a bit dusty and earthy (hint, hint).   Moving right along...

I think we were meant for each other. I love musical theatre! And food! Okay, I can't cook, and I don't know anything about ballet, and the only wine I like is ginger wine... huh. Um, yeah. So what’s an average day like for you?

Hectic!  I think most people have an image of me loftily reading manuscripts all day but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  All that reading is done at home at night or on the weekend.  I like to say I have homework for life.  During the day I’m on the phone with authors and editors, I’m answering emails, I’m vetting contracts, I’m having lunch with editors and meetings with clients or potential clients, I’m occasionally reading queries (though most of this happens at home also), I’m emailing our foreign co-agents to alert them about the exciting things going on with our books, and probably 10 other things I’m forgetting to mention here.

I love words like 'clients' and 'contracts' and 'foreign co-agents'. They make me so happy. (That's me, guys! I'm a client! ME!) And speaking of clients: what made you want to represent THE LOST GIRL when you saw the original manuscript? (obviously apart from the fact that it’s the best thing ever…)

The voice grabbed me instantly, which is priority for me.  Overall the story spoke to me because there are cool fantasy elements but it’s a character-driven story. And that character, despite her special circumstances, is a typical teenage girl dealing with many of the same identity issues as all teenage girls.  That’s what was appealing to me but that I also thought would be appealing to readers, that teenage readers could instantly relate.  I also loved the settings of London and India, as I really enjoy reading about other cultures and places and you don’t see that enough in YA lit, in my opinion. 

A lot of people seem to like the book's settings! What’s one of your favourite—and somewhat spoiler-free!—lines from the book?

“I brought milk,” I say.

And I love when Mina Ma tells Eva she hopes her other dies:
“But if you replace her, you might be safer. So if only for my sake, child, hope this happens.”
“I won’t wish for her to die!”
“Then I will wish it,” she replies, ruthlessly, “Because I don’t know or love her.”

I think Mina Ma is my favourite character, if I do say so myself. THE LOST GIRL was hugely inspired by Frankenstein. What classic do you wish you could have represented?

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN; I adore that book and re-read it every few years.  Makes me cry every time.  I also love Steinbeck’s EAST OF EDEN.  It’s a family saga and big juicy soap opera.

I haven't read either of those books. Is that sad? I think it's sad. But YAY! That's two more for the To Read pile. And finally: name two things you’d take to a desert island. (I know the standard form of this question asks for three things, but as I’m assuming a copy of THE LOST GIRL would, naturally, be one of them, I’m only asking for two.)

My eyeglasses because I am practically blind without them … but if those are on my face already (yes, they are. I'm not that cruel)… I’m bringing Alice Waters’ cookbook THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD because we’ll need to eat and I can’t for the life of me ever remember how to make a simple roast chicken without her guidance.  And probably my iPod (assuming there is electricity).  I think life without books and music isn’t really worth living. (So true!)

Yay! Find out more about Melissa at the EKLA website or on Twitter (@mjsarver). Huge thanks to her for that awesome interview. And huge thanks, too, for giving me today's


“I brought milk,” I say.


  1. Glad you found someone who was passionate about your work!


  3. Great interview, Sangu. I'm getting so excited for the release of this book!

  4. It sounds like you and your agent are just right for each other. :) Love the interview!

  5. Great interview, ladies! Lovely to learn about Melissa.

    And I've never been more intrigued by milk...

  6. Hehe x great quote. I'm excited for the release!

  7. "I brought milk." Oh, that part... the tension!!! Gah!!!! :D

    And wow, that's so awesome. Just added Melissa to my To-Query list. :D

  8. Dude. I want Melissa's job! It sounds so freaking amazing! :D

    HA! and I L-O-V-E-D Sean's reaction to "I brought milk." That was MY favorite! <3

  9. great interview! you two sound like you ARE meant to be. ;) and that teaser about Mina Ma wanting the other to die? WHOA.

    ashelynnhetland @ gmail dot com

  10. “I brought milk,”
    ^ Now I really want to know the scene that line is from... o.o

    Great interview you guys! It's great to hear about the agent x clients that work well together. :)

    mizuro_pearl at hotmail dot com