Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Agent Joanna Volpe, president of New Leaf Media

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....



Marlo Berliner said...

Great interview, Jen! I've got a question for Joanna. Will you have a website up shortly or is there contact information? And what will happen with submissions that were still pending with you from Nancy Coffee Lit.?
Thanks so much!

Lorie Langdon said...

Great interview! Thanks Jen and Joanna!

Loree Huebner said...

Fun interview. Great to learn more about you, Joanna!

Stephsco said...

What a cool opportunity to learn more about an agent! Thanks for hosting.

Also, those are some amazing books referenced there. I agree, great characters and story trump the trends.

Sonya said...

Fantastic interview and best of luck with your new agency!

Kimberly said...

Fun interview, Jen and Joanna! And on Twitter no less!
Good luck to you, Joanna on your new venture!
With regards to the books you mentioned, I have to say I'm partial to Mo Fitzgerald. She's flawed in such a charming and loyal way. I love her! I can't wait to read BOUND!
Thanks for sharing with us!

Sharon (A Book Barbie) said...

Congratulations! This comment is to notify you that I'm presenting you with the Liebster Blog Award. :) You can find out more here:

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Loved all her Twitter answers:) And ohmigosh, just read Divergent. I really hope the world doesn't end in December b/c I must find out how this series ends, lol!

Jessica Love said...

Awesome interview!

PJ Sharon said...

Excellent interview, Ladies. I love that New Leaf is about moving forward and being open to the new direction that the publiching world is taking. Good luck, Joanna!

JoSVolpe said...

Hi Marlo,

Yes, we will have a website! It's being constructed right now and should be up and running in a few weeks. Until then, we're going to launch our blog this weekend, so that writers and others can find the info they need.

All pending submissions from Nancy Coffey Lit will be responded to by next week.

As with any transition, this hasn't been exactly smooth (we've been phone and internetless for almost a full week due to a mishap on Verizon's end), but we're working around the clock to ensure that nothing gets left behind!


JoSVolpe said...

Kimberly--I hope you enjoy the end to the trilogy (re: BOUND). It is SO good!!!

Ginger Calem said...

Thank you Jen and Joanna for the great interview. My all time favorite childhood book is also The Giving Tree. I still cry whenever I read it. *sniff*

Good luck with New Leaf. Sounds like a grand adventure and your attitude about change is so uplifting. Awesome!

Melanie said...

awesome interview! Congrats to Jo on the big move and I wish her and her new agency wonderful (continued) success. I'm also a huge HUGE fan of The Giving Tree. One of my all time faves. Also, if you have never read The Empty Pot by Demi, check that one out. It gives me goosebumps and makes me tear EVERY. TIME. I. READ. IT.

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

Jo is, without a doubt, Agent Awesome (and Agent OF Awesome, too ;) )!! Kudos to you both for doing the interview via Twitter! Yay New Leaf Literary!

Julie O'Connell said...

Terrific questions and answers, ladies! And doing it via Twitter? Double awesome.

I wish nothing but the best for Joanna and New Leaf. Keep knocking 'em outta the park!

April Tucholke said...

I want to see a book with a Holden MC but a King horror plot. I wonder if that's possible to pull off. I wonder if HC would call Barlow a phony.

Marlo Berliner said...

@Joanna - Thanks so much for your response. And hats off to you for doing the interview via twitter. Wishing you all the best with New Leaf!

Alison K Hertz said...

Congratulations on the new business! Will you share the future site of your blog or come back here and post the site after it is up and running this weekend? Will your new agency focus on thee darker ya that you love or do you plan to include picture books as well?

Anonymous said...

I LOVED the interveiw so funny! I'm still in love with the Giving Tree too! LOL! :D

JoSVolpe said...

April, I think HC would most definitely call Barlow out like that.

Alison, I do work on picture books as well! I just didn't talk about them here since this is a YA blog :-) I adore picture books with either a timeless or a quirky sensibility. I also rep middle grade, and on the adult side I rep women's fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and some non-fic. The other gals at my agency have different taste.

Daryl Wood Gerber a.k.a. Avery Aames said...

Jen, great interview. Joanna, I adored The Giving Tree. Regarding your new venture, I love hearing a story about daring in this day and age, and you and your fellow agents are living that. Good for you. May you be a tremendous success! If enthusiasm counts for anything, you will be.

Daryl Wood Gerber