The first time I met Juliet Mushens I was too nervous to talk to her. Literary agents were still a very unknown quantity to me last summer and I confess I was rather tongue tied. Fortunately I received a second chance to chat. She soon put me at my ease and we’ve been partners in crime ever since. Juliet is a very hands on agent, giving both structural and line edit notes to her authors.
I thought it would be a good time to interview her following the deal with Gollancz for my novel The Boy with the Porcelain Ears, which in the first part of The Erebus Sequence.
What are you looking for at the moment?
I am looking for everything - I have a very diverse list - but I would especially like some literary historical fiction (think The Book of Night Women), a high concept thriller (think The Shining Girls) and a great serial killer thriller, as well as some more high fantasy. I am a sucker, in general, for psychological thrillers, unreliable narrators, the dark side of friendship, and sparky dialogue.
You've recently started taking on more SFF - why?
I have always loved genre. My parents' house is called 'Lorien'. My childhood guinea pig was called Meriadoc. I grew up reading Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffrey, Robin Hobb, Tad Williams... I also used to work in marketing at HarperVoyager. So representing SFF feels like coming home.
What do you like - and dislike - seeing in SFF submissions?
I like original settings and characters who are shades of grey. I dislike women portrayed as just victim, virgin or whore, and rape in general in fantasy.
What made you offer representation for The Boy with the Porcelain Ears?
I fell in love with the characters: the lost Lucien, dry Virmyre, feisty Rafaela. There is such a rich cast of characters and the setting and prose is rich and poetic. I was also intensely impressed by the skilful plotting - and how strong the female characters are!
What do you like most about the agenting process?
Too many things to pick! I love to edit, I love to negotiate, and I love getting to hold someone's book for the first time and knowing that I helped bring it into being.
Which books would you most like to have agented?
The Book of Night Women, The Book Thief, Stasiland, Retribution, Lolita, Assassin's Apprentice... Too many to count!
What's your proudest achievement?
Probably any time I sell a debut writer's novel. It feels very special.
What's your favourite SFF book?
TOO MANY TO NAME! Love Only Forward, Ender's Game, Ship of Destiny, A Game of Thrones, Daughter of the Empire, Gormenghast. And I've probably forgotten a ton!
Juliet works for The Agency Group and can be found on Twitter as @Mushenska. She has a minor addiction to the caps lock button and a great sense of humour.