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.”

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