Was it our mutual love of books and good writing that compelled Christina Hogrebe and I to start talking? The love of the craft? What’s going on in the industry today? Nope. Folks, today I bring you the coolest literary agent ever. Why? Well, anyone that loves ZOMBIES as much as I do has to be cool, right?
You know it!! So, I invited Christina Hogrebe here today to dish on everything from books to writing to The Walking Dead. Join me and please welcome, Miss Christina!
JF: If you had a crystal ball, what do you think it would tell you about the state of the publishing industry five to ten years from now?
CH: I hope in ten years there will be a crystal ball! But I think it’s safe to say that a handful of things will be true in ten years–or a hundred and ten years: 1) readers will still desire compelling stories and 2) they will seek platforms to discuss those stories. 3) Storytellers will feel compelled to tell stories. 4) Some of those writers will be able to find the readers on their own; 5) other writers will prefer to devote their time to the exercise of writing, necessitating a staff of professionals to connect writer and reader.
JF: If you were not a literary agent, what job would you do?
CH: I’m a lifelong Girl Scout (I have the badges to prove it), and for years I romanticized the notion of working for the U.S. Forest Service. But in the end, I was always better at selling cookies.
JF: Ah, now I know who to hit up for more Thin Mints! So, we all know you read a ton. What is your favorite book and why?
CH: I’m your basic fickle reader, so my favorites are always changing. But I’ll say that the book obsessions that shaped the way I read today were the entire Anne of Green Gables series and Romeo & Juliet (and the Franco Zefferelli film) when I was younger, and more recently, the Twilight series and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Do you see a theme? For me, these books showcase the kind of can’t-live-without-you emotions I look for when I’m considering new projects.
JF: So, then, what do you look for in a client?
CH: Of course I’m looking for writers whose work leaves me breathless. But the ideal business partnership is when an author’s goals align with the services I can offer in the commercial fiction marketplace. In addition, the clients for whom we’ve been able to achieve the most success are engaged in the business of publishing, they are dedicated to adhering to a commercial production schedule (meaning at least a book a year, usually more) and they are interested in being involved in their own promotional efforts.
JF: What is your advice to new writers?
CH: Become involved in the book world. With very few exceptions, authors can no longer produce a book and ship it off to the publishing team to shepherd into bestsellerdom. These days, so much more is required of an author in addition to mastering craft. Read your peers, digest their reviews, subscribe to deal newsletters and industry blogs, attend conferences, participate in critique groups, review others’ work online, create a dialogue with other authors, and read, read, read.
JF: Do you see the attitude toward self-publishing changing now that more traditional published authors are taking steps in that direction?
CH: I see the attitude changing, but I would venture to say it’s more because technology has allowed for readers to become connected with the stories that appeal to them with less effort than in past.
JF: Okay. Now, the real reason I asked you here today. The Walking Dead. Who is your favorite character?
CH: Now we’re getting serious. Michonne. She has figured out how to navigate the apocalypse but is a fish out of water when it comes to existing within the group. More than any of the other characters, she’s the one I look forward to deciphering since she’s such a mystery.
JF: If you were stranded alone at the prison, which WD character would you want to have your back?
CH: Daryl Dixon, and only because he’s a slightly better conversationalist than Michonne. You want someone to chat with after you kill that many walkers.
JF: Good point. And, you can’t count on Rick these days….chasing those ghosts and all…What would you enjoy most about being a zombie?
CH: Not having to pick out my clothes…? Actually, this question of identity is one that Isaac Marion explores beautifully in Warm Bodies.
JF: Thanks so much for Talking Dead with me today, Christina. But before I let you go, this is what our audience really wants to know, are you acquiring new clients now? If so, what genre are you looking for?
CH: I’m always on the lookout for new clients. My areas of expertise include women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and mystery, but my biggest pleasure is finding a timeless tale set in a surprising setting, as in Courtney Summers This is Not a Test or Beth Revis’ Across the Universe. Those teen reads might be described as paranormal or science fiction—labels I might typically resist—but the human story at the heart of those novels is precisely what blows my hair back.
So much fun! Thank you for being here today. I’m sure our readership has questions. So guys, topics include books to the industry to zombies….ask away!