Not only is she a top literary agent for the children’s market (which includes books for ages 0-18), but Joan is also an author herself! She has no less than FOUR books being published in 2013, and has three other books already on the shelves.
Confident that our Bookshop Talk readers would want to learn more about this kidlit superhero, I asked Joan if she would answer a few questions for us. So here we go:
Amy Finnegan: I read on your blog, ajpaquette.com, that you started writing at a very young age—creating notebooks full of stories with your sister. Will you please tell us more about this (and feel free to elaborate on the stories!)?
Ammi-Joan Paquette: Yes, it’s true! This was before my typing/computer days, so it was all pen-and-paper for us. We loved to fold sheets of paper and staple them down the middle, then fill the inside with hand-written stories, complete with strategically placed boxes for illustrations. (Oh yes!) My absolute favorite part was to include a list of “Other Titles In the Series” on the back cover—somehow, coming up with titles for upcoming future works was even more exciting than finishing the one I’d already started. That was usually the first thing I did. (Funny to think of now, since titling my books is often one of the hardest parts of the process!)
AF: You’ve continued to be attracted to the children’s market as an adult. What is it that draws you to the genre as a whole?
AJP: Oh, boy—good question! I think it’s just such a time of possibility: anything can happen, and there is still that sense of wonder and awe and appreciation for the magic of the world around you. (Remember how long one summer used to last when we were kids? A time that now goes by in the blink of an eye!) Also, those years are a time of enormous change; everything is shifting and growing and stretching in ways both wondrous and terrifyingly uncomfortable. Basically, there’s just a wealth of rich subject matter—and, quite frankly, those are the stories that are calling to me and that compel me… and where the muse calls, I follow :)
AF: I’ve gotta ask this (spooky) question! Today is the release date for two of your newest books, a middle grade novel, RULES FOR GHOSTING, and a picture book, GHOST IN THE HOUSE. So . . . what sparked this fascination with the great beyond?
AJP: I’ve always been a big fan of speculative fiction as a reader, so I think it’s not surprising that that’s reflected in my writing material as well. I do think it’s funny that not only do I have two books about ghosts coming out, but that they are also being released on the same day. I guess it’s time for me to shine the spotlight on the mysterious, hmmm?
AF: According to data available on Publishers Marketplace, and gathered by kathytemean.wordpress.com, you are currently ranked as the second highest selling literary agent in the children’s market! (Umm . . . WOW!) So I’m sure the writers who read this blog would like to know about the agent side of your life. Can you please share a bit about the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, the type of manuscripts you’re attracted to, and what process a writer would need to follow if he or she wanted to submit a manuscript to you?
AJP: Aw, thank you! Well, unfortunately the EMLA agency is closed to general submissions, so the best way to get into my submission pile is to attend a conference at which I’m presenting. I do travel quite extensively, so hopefully I will soon find myself in an area near you! In general, I’m drawn to sharply rendered characters with a compelling voice and a plot that feels tight and fast-paced. I love rich language and books that feel like they will stand the test of time. I’m not opposed to commercial books, but for me there needs to be something beyond the quick superficial read; some deeper or thought-provoking element that calls me back to the story long after I’ve put it down. Also: I love to be surprised; if your story takes unexpected or unpredictable turns, or plays with structure or story in some unusual way, I am likely to be hooked!
Thank you, Joan, for joining us on Bookshop Talk!
As a special surprise for our readers, we’re hosting a GIVEAWAY to win one of Joan’s books!
Readers, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post about Joan's interview, be (or become) a Bookshop Talk follower on Facebook, and include your Facebook name in your comment before midnight on July 16th, and wah-la! Your name will be entered into the drawing for one lucky reader to win whichever book of Joan’s they choose! *If you don’t want to enter the drawing, feel free to comment anyway, without the Facebook info*
Winners will be announced here on Bookshop Talk July 17th, so be sure to check the site that day.
Here is a bit about each of Ammi-Joan Paquette’s books:
GHOST IN THE HOUSE: It was a dark and spooky night… Wait! Did you hear that? It sounds like it might be… something scary! What is it? Turn the page and find out...
RULES FOR GHOSTING: The ghostly adventures of twelve-year-old Dahlia, along with her new living friends Oliver and Poppy, as they dodge a creepy Ghosterminator, a town official with devious plans, and set about solving the mystery of Dahlia’s death—before it’s too late.
PARADOX: She wakes up in a rocket on an alien planet with no idea who she is, or where, or why. The letter in her pocket gives her one simple message: “Experience. Discover. Survive.” The timer on her wrist is counting down to zero. And the earth-shaking rumble in the distance sends the clear message: Something is coming. If you like your science fiction fast-paced and your main character conflicted, get ready for a plot-twisting, mind-bending read like no other!
NOWHERE GIRL: Thirteen-year-old Luchi is anything but an ordinary American teenager. Born in a remote country prison in Northern Thailand, her mother's death pushes Luchi into the outside world--and into the web of secrets that was her mother's past. A coming-of-age story that follows a compelling character on her journey across continents, and oceans, and into a future she cannot begin to imagine.
THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS: A walk by the seashore might be nothing more than the start of an ordinary day. Or… it could be the beginning of something magical! Will you come along and see?
THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES: The sun is shining. The birds are singing. It's a perfect day for... tracking fairies! Join our intrepid narrators as they follow a series of backyard clues, getting closer and closer to their magical friends. You too can learn to see the world through fairy-tinted glasses.
(Launching Oct 2013 - available for pre-order) PETEY AND PRU AND THE HULLABALOO: Petey is in the mood for some peace and quiet. But Pru is feeling tricksy. One good prank deserves another, but when the cats start wailing and the plants go flying, who do you suppose will come out on top?