#SEACritterspub Agent Interview: Léonicka Valcius from Transatlantic Literary
Welcome to the #SEACritterspub interviews, where we spotlight agents and editors looking for Asian literature and / or Asian authors! This week it’s Léonicka Valcius from Transatlantic Literary!
What is #SEACritterspub?
This is an initiative started by Hanna Alkaf, Gail Villanueva, and I (all currently living in Southeast Asia) to help Asian authors (both diaspora and living outside of the US) learn more about querying and finding agents in the US! Aside from showcasing agents actively seeking Asian rep, we also post tips, advice, and occasionally offer query / 1st page critiques!
Before proceeding: please familiarize yourself with what a query is and how it works, general etiquette that authors need to know before finding an agent, and other helpful guidelines. Check out the #SeaCritterspub category on this blog (also located on the right side of this interview!) for more details!
Now, onwards to the interview!
1. Is there any information about yourself that you think people might like to know (literary agent experience, hobbies, etc.)?
I’m a Haitian-Canadian assistant agent who was born in Montreal, grew up in South Florida, and currently lives in Toronto. Before becoming an agent I worked as a book buyer and marketer at Scholastic Book Fairs Canada, and on the online and digital sales team at Penguin Random House Canada. In my spare time (LOL) I run the @DiverseCanLit Twitter handle and I help organize The Festival of Literary Diversity. My career is and will always be centered on supporting the careers of writers of color.
2. Are there any specific Asian MS preferences you’re looking for (e.g., contemporary K-drama, Chinese martial arts fantasy, etc.) ?
I am eager for fun fiction! I read to escape and be entertained. Books I love are vacation reads and “I finally caught up on this book over break” reads. My favorite genres are historical fictional, speculative fiction, contemporary commercial fiction, and romance.
In historical fiction, I love big sweeping political dramas: warring groups, uprisings, love, betrayal, plot twists, and twists of the knife. Think Phillippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel. I’m also sucker for family dysfunction and secrets that unfold over generations a la Isabel Allende. My favorite historical fiction by an Asian writer is The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam. I lean more toward the fantasy end of the sci-fi/fantasy continuum. I love stories that borrow from their cultures’ folklore, mythology, and divine pantheon. I’m also a big fan of women and girls saving (or destroying) the world. And any future story that explores what it means to be human will grab my attention.
Recent faves include: books by Marie Lu (especially The Young Elites and Warcross), Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn, On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis, and books by N.K Jemisin (especially The Fifth Season). Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series is the perfect example of what I love in contemporary commercial fiction. All my other examples would be TV shows: Jane the Virgin, Riverdale, Scandal, The Good Place, This is Us, and Dynasty. Can you see the pattern? Over-the-top drama with a healthy mix of belly laughs and/or tears.
Finally, I love romance from cotton candy candy sweet to sultry and sexy. My favorites include Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Nicola John’s The Sun Is Also A Star, and books by Alisha Rai.
3. What other things do you look for in a manuscript?
As I build my client list, I will be co-agenting with senior literary agents at Transatlantic. I am eager to work with people of color, including (but not limited to) trans people, disabled people, religious minorities, and queer folks.
In Adult and Young Adult fiction, I like fun commercial fiction, romance that ranges from sweet to steamy, otherworldly fantasy, and sweeping historical fiction. I do not represent mysteries or thrillers.
In Adult non-fiction, I like narrative non-fiction that explains complex issues through the lens of a personal story. I am also seeking books that straddle the self-help/lifestyle line (#selfcare #liveyourbestlife) and the self-help/business line (#productivityhack #riseandgrind).
For Middle Grade and younger, I love humour, adventure, and make believe. I also enjoy stories about children navigating their changing relationships with family and friends. I strongly prefer books with at least 1 human character.
4. What are your submission guidelines?
From the Transatlantic Literary Agency website:
- Please send your query by email only – [email protected]
- Include a query letter, bio, synopsis, and a 20 page excerpt.
- If you are comfortable, please include your social and cultural identities in your bio, especially if you self-identify as a person of color and/or part of another underrepresented group.
- If you are are submitting a non-fiction proposal, please include information about your expertise and platform, as well as a detailed table of contents.
- If you are submitting a picture book, please send the complete manuscript.
- If you are querying me as a result of this please mention it in your subject line! Credit Rin or #SEAcritterspub.
- 4. What are your submission guidelines?
5. What are things people should remember when sending you queries? Any advice regarding what catches your attention / what turns you off?
I get easily turned off by long, rambling prose, so be sure to keep your query concise and straightforward. My favorite queries are the ones that accurately capture the manuscript’s voice and leave me wanting to read more, rather than reading like an overly detailed synopsis.
To view the full list of agents currently seeking Asian lit / rep, go to this Google doc!
Are you an agent or an editor who’d like to participate in these interviews? Drop me an email at rin.chupeco[at]gmail[dot]com!