2017 FACULTY: Bios
Katherine Harrison, Editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers for nearly 10 years, acquires mainly character-driven middle-grade and YA, including graphic novels. Previously, she has worked on books by R.J. Palacio and Markus Zusak. Katherine’s own acquisitions include bestselling middle-grade novels, such as Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump (a fractured fairytale, it’s a new take on Rumplestiltskin in which 12-year-old Rump can weave straw into gold but finds it’s a curse)—and critically-acclaimed YA novels, such as Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (a funny, heartbreaking romance that begins in a supermarket when a 15-year-old develops a crush on a 21-year-old college student), The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson (15-year-old Laila is exiled from an unnamed Middle Eastern country to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. when her father, the king, is killed in a coup), and Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan (a teen misfit seeks to stop the wild parties next door that are disturbing his Iraq vet father who had PTSD, but he ends up falling for his enemy’s sister).
Katherine’s published and forthcoming novels also include A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig, Neptune and A Bandit’s Tale by Deborah Hopkinson, Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton, This Is the Part Where You Laugh by Peter Brown Hoffmeister, A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff, Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols, Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson, Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister, and We Regret to Inform You by A.E. Kaplan. Enticing!
Editor wish list: In the middle-grade category, Katherine looks for humor (think Sachar or Dahl), but she’s also a sucker for a good tearjerker—provided there are moments of levity to balance out the sad bits. In YA novels, she is seeking smart, heartfelt contemporary tales, richly developed fantasy, and novels that grapple with feminist themes or characters learning to be their authentic selves.
Across the genres, Katherine is always delighted to see diverse voices, well-researched historical fiction, and nerdy characters obsessed with science, nature, politics, or the arts. She also likes to be taken by surprise, noting that sometimes it’s the books which don’t fit neatly into any of these categories that speak to her the loudest—“‘narrative voice’ pun intended.”
Brianne Johnson, Senior Agent at the prestigious Writers House since her internship in 2007, was recently chosen as a Publishers Weekly Star Watch honoree. She’s cultivating a largely omnivorous list in young readers’ books—everything from historical fiction to magical realism, and “fresh, beautiful, fun, thoughtful stories that make that first real step into adulthood seem brand-new, all over again.”
In older readers’ books, she’s seeking “exciting, high-concept, gobble-down-in-one-sitting novels that keep me up way past my bedtime (I love creepy/horror/suspense… and creative fantasy in general), as well as beautiful, literary works that explore the coming-of-age theme from a truly original angle and beg for multiple re-readings.”
Brianne has also sold Cheryl Klein’s The Magic Words, an outstanding guide to writing for children and teens.
We’re delighted to welcome Brianne Johnson to our 15th annual event; she, in turn is eager to connect with potential new clients. One of her memorable quotes for writers: “I want unforgettable characters that I’d follow anywhere, who burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” — Jack Kerouac
Sarah Landis, Agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, represents middle-grade and YA authors. For the past 15 years she has worked as an editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Hyperion Books, HarperCollins Children’s, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books For Young Readers. She has edited many award-winning authors and titles, such as Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You, and Megan Shepherd’s Grim Lovelies.
In middle-grade novels, Sarah is seeking fantasy and contemporary with heart, humor, and magic. In the young adult space, she has an affinity for Southern voices, high-concept and speculative plots, sci-fi/fantasy, historical, mystery and thrillers, and contemporary stories set overseas. Sarah will be offsite faculty this year, offering additional opportunities for our enrollees!