Welcome agent Kathleen Rushall from Marsal Lyon Literary Agency to the Sporty Girl Books Blog! I'm so happy that Kathleen could be here today--she's been my agent since August 2013 and I'm thrilled to introduce her to Sporty Girl Books blog readers.
1. The four bloggers at Sporty Girl have very different athletic interests and abilities. Can you tell us if you consider yourself an athlete? Why or Why not? If not, do you have a favorite sport to watch?
First off, thank you so much for this interview and the opportunity! I’m excited to be here. I have to be honest; I may be the world’s most un-athletic person. BUT, it’s not for lack of interest or trying. I tried several sports in elementary school and junior high, but to no avail. They just didn’t stick, mostly because I was terrible. But it was wonderful to be part of a team and I like to follow football (go Seahawks!).
As an adult, I played intramural dodgeball. I joined because I thought no one would take winning or losing too seriously…I was wrong. The movie Dodgeball could have been a documentary. But it was still really fun!
2. Even though we are not all involved in an organized sport, we all love to read books that feature girls who love or play sports. Do you have a favorite book from this genre?
I agree! I particularly love young adult and middle grade literature about proactive, sporty girls finding their voice. One of my recent favorites that's a great example of this is a book on my list, written by Kristine Carlson Asselin called ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT.
It’s about a teenage girl, Penelope, who joins a misfit hockey team on a dare…from a really cute boy, Jake. Penelope has always enjoyed ice-skating but she grows to love hockey and is really good at it. The hitch? She’s not supposed to be on the team. She’s been lying in order to make it to practice. She’s blowing off her after-school job at her family’s restaurant, Slice Pizza, and they really need her. Especially now that they are about to be featured on a reality cooking show…
One of the things I love about this book is that it shows how hard it can be to pursue a passion, such as a sport, that takes hours and hours of practice and dedication…especially if you feel like you are letting someone else down. Kristine handles this beautifully and readers are really going to enjoy following Penelope’s discovery of the right choice for her.
3. Aw, thanks, Kathleen! (Did I tell you she's a great agent? AWYSI comes out April 21 and the Goodreads site is here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18800714-any-way-you-slice-it)
I’ve read recently that some agents and editors are seeing trends toward more sporty girl books, are you seeing this trend in your slush pile? If not, what are you seeing?
Young adult and middle grade literature has long sought to empower girls, which is one reason I’ve always been drawn to it. Recently, I am seeing an even stronger preference for stories featuring dynamic female leads who face tough choices with strength.
I think this is even reflected in our pop culture. I mean, Disney recently made its first film featuring two sisters (and not focused on a romance!), and it was a runaway hit. We could also look at Maleficent, where a female villain was brought to life and the concept of true love went deeper than a romantic relationship. Books and TV shows like Game of Thrones that feature women who are as layered (and as powerful or complicated) as their male counterparts are inspiring.
Girls are being given lead roles instead of being dependent on the male character to propel the story forward. I think this is much needed and refreshing. It reminds me of one of my favorite original ‘sporty’ girls in literature: Alanna, a girl who pretended to be a boy so she become a knight in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the of Lioness series. I’m certainly on the hunt for children’s literature with brainy, assertive, layered girls leading the plot.
4. I love it! What book is on your night stand?
You could build a pretty solid fort out of the books on my nightstand. Some of them include RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard, SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi, EL DEAFO by Cece Bell, ZODIAC by Romina Russel, ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven, THE CURE FOR DREAMING by Cat Winters and MORTAL HEART by Robin Lafevers. Oh, and because I’m a neat freak, I am also really loving THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo. J
5. What’s on your MSWL (ManuScript Wish List) and how can people query you?
Like we were talking about earlier, I am always on the lookout for layered YA that empowers girls with strong female leads, bonds between girl friends, and characters supporting each other—whether it’s contemporary, historical or fantasy!
I’d also love to find new contemporary YA or MG with an unforgettable voice and great hook. I’m certainly open to a touch of magical realism in my contemporary YA and I’d love to find something that straddles the literary and commercial line. Surprise me!
I’d say it’s a given that diversity is important and that goes for all my wishlist items! I’m loving my fantasy reads right now and am looking for more diverse or multicultural YA fantasy w/ beautiful writing, strong world-building, and a truly memorable voice. For fantasy (as with all YA, really), I'm less about naive girls who need saving and ALL about crafty, proactive protagonists who create their own opportunities.
For more information on what I represent (because I do picture books and nonfiction too!), check out my bio on our Marsal Lyon Agency website as well as the MSWL website below:
Thanks so much to Kathleen for sharing some of your favorite books (I know I've added to my TBR pile!) and for saying such nice things about ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT!