Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kristina Pérez of Zeno Literary

Kristina Pérez is a literary agent with Zeno Literary.

“I was born and raised in the Big Apple by an Argentine dad and a Norwegian mom, speaking three languages at home. My love of languages and travel led me to move to Paris when I was seventeen with my grandmother’s cat – and I’ve barely stopped moving since. My other great love is all things Arthurian and I completed my PhD in Medieval Literature at the University of Cambridge before switching gears and heading to China to work as a journalist. I have held positions at the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong, and in recent years have published several YA novels (the Sweet Black Waves trilogy and The Tesla Legacy) as well as nonfiction (The Myth of Morgan la Fey). I am currently based in London where I am engaged in a constant battle with my neighborhood foxes.

“With my diverse background, my tastes in books are equally eclectic. As an author myself, I am an editorial agent and enjoy polishing manuscripts until they shine like the top of the Chrysler Building! I am actively building my list in the following categories and particularly encourage submissions from BAME and marginalized writers.

“Young Adult – I love retellings with a twist, whether it be contemporary or fantasy, especially LGBTQIA+ and those that draw on non-Western folklore and mythology. Pitch me light sci-fi in the vein of Illuminae and Once & Future. I’m an unabashed musical theatre geek so send me all of your contemporary YAs that feature backstage drama, RomComs that make me laugh like Kasie West or Nisha Sharma, and lyrical coming-of-age stories like Katie Cotugno’s How to Love. I have a real penchant for novels-in-verse. I’m also a fan of chilling ghost stories and, dare I say it, vampires. If you write historical fiction like Stacey Lee or Elizabeth Wein, then send it my way. Basically, I’m open to all genres within YA so surprise me!

“In addition to fiction, I will consider YA nonfiction proposals in all subject areas.

“Middle Grade – Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series is what made me fall in love with reading as a kid and I’m eager to find fantasy for younger readers. Other all time favorite middle grade reads are the historical novels, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I would like to see a MG novel-in-verse like The Moon Within by Aida Salazar. Other recent favorites include The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko, and The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes.

“Fantasy – I love lush historical or secondary world fantasy like Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. Feminist retellings like Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker will steal my heart. I am open to excellent Urban Fantasy with complex female characters. Show me a magic system that I haven’t seen before. My Argentine side loves magical realism in all forms from Practical Magic to Like Water for Chocolate. And witches, always witches.

“Romance – I absolutely adore well-researched historical romance in any time period and I prefer spicy to sweet, especially with a feminist bent. I would love to rep a F/F historical romance. Recent favorite reads include The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite, and Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore. For the moment, I’m not looking for contemporary but I will consider paranormal.

“Science Fiction – A great dystopian will keep me glued to my seat but there needs to be something new and unique about the world. I’m a huge Battlestar Galactica nerd and have a soft spot for light space opera. I’m not the right agent for hard/military SF.

“Nonfiction – I am primarily looking for current affairs, cultural history, and popular science. If you’re an academic who can write like a journalist, I want to hear from you. Think Latinx by Ed Morales. I do not represent autobiography/memoir.

“Having lived in China/SE Asia for almost a decade, I am particularly interested in history/contemporary politics books on those regions. I want this decade’s version of China Pop by Jianying Zha or Asian Godfathers by Joe Studwell.

“I am also always looking for feminist criticism like Susan J. Douglas’s Where the Girls Are. I studied Art History at university and love biographies of female artists or models, such as Strapless by Deborah Davis.

“I’d like cultural history projects along the lines of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster by Dana Thomas or Alpha Beta by John Man. A biography on a lesser known female historical figure such as Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo will pop my cork!

“Recent popular science I’ve enjoyed include: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, Inferior by Angela Saini, and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Stefanie Molina of Ladderbird Literary

Stefanie Molina is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary

​Stefanie has spent her career advocating for marginalized folks in publishing as a technical editor at a national laboratory, senior editor at the literary journal F(r)iction, and book coach and editor for women of color. She is one-half Mexican, one-quarter Japanese, and one-quarter Irish and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, both from the University of California at Davis. Aside from reading, she enjoys hiking, swimming, baking strange new things, and playing the piano. Her favorite place in the world is Yosemite National Park. You can find her on Twitter @fiction_tech.

She is seeking:

Across the board, she is extremely passionate about increasing representation for Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities in publishing, and has a soft spot for stories about mixed people of color. She’s also invested in increasing representation for other marginalized populations, including but not limited to LGBTQIA+ folks, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, and people who are neurodiverse.

In all works, she loves redemption arcs, especially those that result in enemies-to-lovers.

It’s hard, though not impossible, to sell her on a sad ending.

Picture Books: “I’m most interested in stories that tell the experiences of growing up as a person of color, especially as a mixed person of color. Think Rise and Shine, Mariko Chan!; Lucia the Luchadora; Grandma Says My Hair Has Flair; We Are Water Protectors; and Binny’s Diwali.

“I’d also love retellings of traditional folktales from all cultures, including stories that somehow reflect the oral storytelling tradition.”

Middle Grade and YA: Her top interests here are:

  • Historical fiction and fantasy that explores diverse experiences and cultures (think Percy Jackson or Flame in the Mist)
  • Funny, deep, and heartfelt coming-of-age stories, especially about and by people of color (Never Have I Ever (the TV show), American Panda, Becoming Naomi Leon, Finding Miracles), bonus if it has romcom elements
  • Fantasy and all its subgenres: emotion- and story-heavy writing with an easily trackable narrative, diverse and inclusive cast, and mindful worldbuilding. Favorites: Song of Wraiths and Ruin, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.
  • Solarpunk, hopepunk, and silkpunk

​In adult fiction: The best books for Stefanie combine elements of humor, romance, and adventure into emotion-forward works full of feeling and excitement. She’s looking for:

  • Diverse romcoms, especially starring people of color and featuring interracial relationships between people of color, and/or starring LGBTQIA+ folks with an emphasis on bi and pan rep
  • Cozy mysteries, especially those that heavily feature dogs (Chet and Bernie, Andy Carpenter)
  • Steamy thrillers (think Sandra Brown)
  • Fantasy and all its subgenres: emotion- and story-heavy writing with a trackable narrative, diverse and inclusive cast, and mindful worldbuilding. (Circe is a big favorite.)
  • Historical fiction and fantasy that explores diverse experiences and cultures (Fifty Words for Rain)
  • Solarpunk, hopepunk, and silkpunk

In nonfiction and memoir: Stefanie is very selective with nonfiction, but is interested in deeply moving memoirs and business/personal development by people of color.

She is also looking for cookbooks and baking books that make rich culinary traditions accessible while keeping them authentic, especially those with recipes that have been passed down through generations. She loves fusion cuisines and gets most excited about dessert!

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Tess Callero of Europa Content

Tess Callero is a literary agent with Europa Content.

“I am actively on the hunt for genre YA and adult fiction as well as nonfiction projects. I am specifically looking for YA romance and thriller/suspense. I love a unique setting (boarding schools, small towns, international adventures). Please do not query me with sci-fi/fantasy or horror.

“On the adult side, I love smart, twisty psychological suspense in the vein of Lucy Foley or Ashley Audrain. I’m also looking for fun and engaging contemporary rom com – think BEACH READ or anything by Sally Thorne. I’d especially love a story that takes a young female narrator in a familiar setting and tells readers something new about the experience, like SUCH A FUN AGE or HAPPY & YOU KNOW IT.”

Nonfiction: cookbooks, food narrative, pop culture, science, investigative journalism, business, social justice and anti-racism, humor