Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview with Shannon Hassan, literary agent at Marsal-Lyon

Hey Folks! I have someone really awesome I want you to meet..

Shannon Hassan, my agent!

I'm really excited about signing with Shannon for so many reasons. Her amazing background is one—and her excitement over my writing is another. Shannon is building her list, so...'nuff said. Work on your craft, be true to yourself, be awesome and Shannon may be interested in hearing from you.

So here is Shannon in her own words...

What are your favorite books to read?

I have pretty eclectic taste and enjoy reading a range of fiction, including women’s, young adult, literary, and historical, as well as narrative nonfiction.  A few books that I enjoyed this summer outside of work included The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, On Writing by Stephen King, and Swamplandia!  by Karen Russell.

What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I remember when I was about eight my mother came home from a business trip with a gift: the The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare.  It was my first experience falling under the spell of a novel and its characters, and I didn’t leave my room for two days!  When I turned that last page, I was officially in love with reading, and would be for life.

What is your publishing background and what was it that led you to become an agent?

I have worked in publishing and law for more than a decade.  Having served as both an acquisitions editor and a corporate/ licensing attorney in New York, being an agent was a natural progression and a great combination of my skills and passion.  I am so pleased to have joined Marsal Lyon and couldn’t be happier with the agency and its approach to helping writers achieve their publishing goals.

What kind of work are you looking for these days?

I represent authors of literary and commercial fiction, young adult fiction, and select nonfiction.  With respect to fiction: I am drawn to fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose.  Lisa Amowitz, author of Breaking Glass (and one of my newest authors!), is a great example of the kind of writer that draws me in.

For nonfiction: I am interested in memoirists with exceptional stories to tell, as well as authors with a strong platform in current affairs, history, education, or law.

What words of advice do you have for up and coming authors?

It has been said before, but one piece of advice I like to give is to authors is: READ!!.  Read books in your genre to help you gain an understanding of your target audience.  And then read books outside your genre to expand your worldview and keep your writing fresh.

Thanks for stopping by, Shannon! I'm looking forward to a fruitful and fun partnership with you. If you'd like to find out more about Shannon and her agency Marsal-Lyon, visit her at:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Cover Design: UNSOUL'D an adult novel by Barry Lyga, author of I HUNT KILLERS

Good morning! I know this blog has been gathering dust of late, but here's a little something to perk it up. Over the summer I had the pleasure of working with Barry Lyga, the author of I HUNT KILLERS. Barry hired me to do a cover for his adult ebook, UNSOUL'D. To mark the occasion, I asked Barry a few questions about himself and our design process for the cover.

But first, here is the cover, which I am very pleased with (note: please remember that this is not a young adult book, it's for intended for adults 18 and up):

Here's the blurb from GOODREADS. You can also download a sample of the book to start reading.

Randall Banner is thirty-five years old, a middling mid-list author who yearns for more of everything. More attention. More fame. More money. More fans.

Then, one quiet morning, he meets the devil while pounding away at his laptop at his usual coffee shop. Soon, a deal is made, a contract is signed, and Randall is on his way to fame and fortune unlike any he ever imagined.

What follows is a bawdy, hilarious, yet harrowing tale of one man, one devil, and a deal that could change the world.

Now for the interview! Welcome, Barry!

You are best known for your NYT bestselling hit, the young adult thriller, I HUNT KILLERS. Tell us about your books that are perhaps less well known.

Probably my least-well-known work is the ARCHVILLAIN series. It's a trilogy about a 12-year-old boy with superpowers who ends being a villain instead of a hero. It was a lot of fun to write -- I just sort of disengaged my superego and let my pre-teen id run amok. But there's also four other YA novels that were critically acclaimed when they came out, but never attained the level of fame (or maybe that's notoriety!) of the I HUNT KILLERS books: The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl, Boy Toy, Hero-Type, and Goth Girl Rising. There's no blood-n-guts, but I think readers of the KILLERS books would respond to the depth of character in them.

What in your life inspired you to write the dark and edgy tales you are famous for?

Nothing that I can think of. I was no more or less inspired by my life to write the KILLERS series than I was to write something as (relatively) tame as ARCHVILLAIN. For me, it's all about finding an interesting story to tell and then telling it in the most honest, truthful manner possible. I guess sometimes that results in "dark and edgy," though to be brutally honest with you, I think people do a disservice when they categorize it like that. Is KILLERS "dark and edgy?" I guess so. It's also funny, scary, sad, honest, and a whole slew of other things.

Tell us about your new release, UNSOUL'D.

Oh, man! This is a story I've wanted to write literally for a decade or more, the tale of a man selling his soul to the devil…and hijinks ensue. It's a comedy, really, even though the subject matter is very, very serious. It's about a guy named Randall Banner, a struggling author living in Brooklyn. He's just barely successful enough that he can keep publishing books, but he's never really broken out, never gotten that elusive big deal. And he's bitter and angry enough about it that when he gets the chance to sell his soul in exchange for a hit book, he jumps at it. But deals with the devil are never QUITE what you expect…and pretty soon Randall realizes he's in for more than he bargained for. It's a classic deal-with-the-devil story, but with a twist I hope you won't see coming. Oh, and it's got plenty of sex in it -- not for nothing is the tagline "A dirty little fable!"

As your cover designer, I can happily say that it was a lot of fun working with you on this cover. Can you give a brief rundown of how we arrived at your vision for the cover? 

I had a very, very strong idea of what I wanted for the cover -- I wanted flames and I wanted the title nice a big. But other than that, I was sort of foundering. With my meager Photoshop skills, I mocked up something pretty awful and you gamely went in that direction and improved on it SO MUCH. But it just wasn't clicking, you know? You've designed a ton of covers -- you know that you can have something that is technically and even aesthetically fine, but it's missing some kind of x-factor that makes it perfect.

Well, along the way, you'd thrown in the coffee ring as a design element, and I started thinking about that. And then I thought that maybe instead of the very dark cover design I'd thrown at you, the real solution was something open and light. So I threw you a curveball at the last minute and said, "Let's go from black to white instead!" And you didn't blink -- which I appreciate -- but you went ahead and came up with the flaming letters set on a papery background and you incorporated the nice coffee ring, and that's when it all clicked!

Thanks for stopping by, Barry! I love working with authors to nail the perfect cover and I'm glad you're happy with the design!

Now go buy the book, everyone!