Typically here at Honestly YA, when we're introducing a literary agent, we put a brief bio at the start of the blog to give you an idea whom you're about to "meet". So, I searched the internet for a bio but there was a whole lotta "business" bio out there. You can get all that information on your own. Here are some equally important facts that you won't find in the official bio:
1. she loves dogs
2. she can put together seemingly random articles of clothing no one else would dream of pairing and come out looking adorable (wait, are we supposed to hate her for that? hmmm)
3. she believes ice cream and french fries are a perfectly acceptable combination of snackage
and most impressively:
4. when her internet service failed and she could not email responses to our interview questions, she agreed to do the interview via twitter. I kid you not. twitter.
Does that not win the Agent of Awesome Award or what?
So now, without further babble from moi, I'm happy to present to you today Joanna Volpe. And bear in mind, Joanna sent these answers in 140 character bursts.
1. What book spoke to you most during your teen years?
Wow, I am going to go 2 ways with this: 1) I finally understood the true meaning of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I love that book even now. It really affected me. My parents are such giving and generous people. I think that's the first time I realized what they had given me all my life. And 2) Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield was the first narrator that I felt really spoke to ME. I'm such a cliche, but it's true Oh! I would like to add a third part to this question, 3) Salem's Lot. This book terrified me (and still does)! But man, did I love to watch that town unravel from the inside out. In my teen years I was starting to really understand that not everyone was genuine. Stephen King is a genius at showing the many layers of people, and Salem's Lot came to represent a universal truth for me: there is more to a person than meets the eye. Horror is also one of my favorite genres to this day. I love being scared! Phew! Long answer!
2. Do you have a book (or books) that you reread regularly? If yes, what book and why?
The Giving Tree again--I tear up every time. Also Harry Potter and The Hobbit.
3. What YA novel or novels have you read recently that you most want all your friends to read?
Good question! Obviously all of my clients' books--I've read them each 3-5 times or more. They are so good! But if we're talking non-clients, I would say The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I have recommended both many, many times.
4. How have those earlier book-loving years impacted your career from bookseller to agent?
Well, I still have a soft spot for dark stories and horror. No matter what genre. I blame Stephen King. 100%
5. You are the agent behind some YA favorites: DIVERGENT, THE DUFF, and SHADOW AND BONE. What stood out to you when you read the authors’ initial pages? What grabbed you and made you think: yes, THIS?
Voice! Holy wow, Bianca, Tris and Alina are amazing! And they feel REAL. They mess up sometimes, and that's OK. I don't typically fall for a perfect MC. I like my characters battling, both in plot and within. Mo Fitzgerald in Erica O'rourke's TORN series, Elvie Nara in MOTHERSHIP and Eleanor Fitt in SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY all awesome, all flawed, and all *fantastic* heroines. I highly suggest these books!
7. In the same vein, there have to be any number of things that make you think: no way. What’s currently on your "I hope I never see another____" list?
Passive characters. Or total G.I. Joes.
6. Just last week, you announced the establishment of your own agency, New Leaf Literary & Media. What are you most looking forward to about being out on your own?
Having the freedom to try new things. Of course, I would never dive into something without a lot of research. There is so much changing in publishing (um, the whole world really). I am actually excited to be a part of this. May we live in interesting times, eh?
8. Anything else you'd like to share with our readers or writers?
Don't be frightened by the "changing market" or changing mediums and platforms. Change is a good thing, and there will always be a story to tell and someone who wants to help you tell it.
Can you give us a little taste of what your plan is for New Leaf Media?
At New Leaf Literary & Media we support our authors beyond those stories. We are working with these big industry changes so our clients can focus on their craft as much as possible. There are a lot of demands put on authors today. We won't let our clients go it alone.
See? What did I tell you? Awesome, right? In 140 character bursts!
Thank you SO MUCH Joanna for taking the time for this interview and for giving us such fabulous answers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I have a copy of The Sky Is Everywhere around here somewhere....