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Agent Spotlight: Kathleen Rushall

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.
Status: Open to submissions, actively building her list.
KatRushallAbout: “Kathleen Rushall is the newest member of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She started as an intern at the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, and then spent almost two years at Waterside Productions. She looks forward to garnering fresh voices, strong narratives, and whimsical tales in all areas of young adult literature including fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, dystopian stories, and contemporary fiction. She is open to all genres of YA, but has a soft spot for well-researched historical narratives, edgy or paranormal plots, humorous voices, and would love to find a dark mystery. Kathleen is open to unique, quirky picture books and all genres of character driven middle grade fiction as well (especially multi-cultural or boy-driven MG).
“For all manuscripts, character development and voice are essential. Please make sure your work is as polished as possible and has been revised, both for plot and for superficial changes (grammar counts!).
“Kathleen also represents select nonfiction and is interested in parenting, cooking, crafts, business, alternative medicine, women’s interest, humor, pop-culture, and some how-to.
“Kathleen graduated from Seattle University with her bachelor’s degree in English and minor in fine arts. She moved back to her hometown of San Diego to earn her master’s degree in English, specializing in children’s literature, from San Diego State University. When she is not at her desk, Kathleen enjoys exploring new restaurants, dreaming of Ireland, and walking her Australian Shepherd, Finn.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Our Agency’s mission is to help writers achieve their publishing dreams. We want to work with authors not just for a book but for a career – we are dedicated to building long-term relationships with our authors and publishing partners. Our goal is to help find homes for books that engage, entertain, and make a difference. From conception, through a collaborative and engaged editorial process, to finding a publisher and beyond, we partner with our authors to ensure success in finding the right publisher and long term success on the market.” (Link)
Web Presence:
Marsal Lyon website.
Agency Facebook.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
What She's Looking For:
Fiction: Children’s picture books, middle grade, and young adult, including thrillers, mystery, romance, fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, and contemporary fiction.
Non-fiction: parenting, cooking, crafts, business, alternative medicine, women’s interest, humor, pop-culture, and some how-to.
From an Interview (07/2011):
“My tastes run the gamut. I'm open to reviewing contemporary as well as fantasy for both MG and YA. I'm also interested in science fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, thrillers, and horror for both MG and YA.
“I'm interested in stories that touch on the occult, reincarnation, and magic, but also relationships, bullying, or more simple triumphs in the real world. I like dark stories and sweet, uplifting stories, humor—and everything in between. I would love to find an edgy mystery, psychological thrillers interest me, as well as boy POV, steampunk, and multicultural stories.
“I also like stories about friendship and characters questioning beliefs. Other than the obvious ‘good writing’ and ‘strong voice’ that you mention, I'm looking for characters that stick in your head and settings that permeate the plot. I'm a real escapist reader, so a book needs to transport me as well as keep the page turning.” (Link)
From an Interview (08/2011):
“I think there’s definitely room for more characters that are gay or bisexual. I also think there’s a short supply (comparatively speaking) of YA books with authentic guy protagonists. I refuse to believe that guys don’t read, and I also think that girl readers would still be interested in reading some of these kind of books. I’m hoping to see more on shelves in the future!” (Link)
From an Interview (07/2011):
“For young adult and middle grade fiction, my interests are across the board. I like historical fiction, science fiction, magical realism, fantasy, humor, multicultural stories, romance, revenge, power struggles, and strong voices with an unusual hook (who doesn’t, right?). Right now, I’m particularly interested in YA thrillers, reincarnation stories, the occult, Southern gothic novels, and fast-paced mysteries. For MG, I’ve noticed that I tend to err towards the humorous and adventurous with some fantasy element, and would love to find a “cozy scary” MG, while for YA I enjoy darker or edgy stories. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t consider lighter YA or darker MG though!
“For picture books, I absolutely love quirk and humor, and am looking for something character driven, as opposed to board books or concept books. I recently read Michael Kaplan’s Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake and this is a great example of a picture book I would be thrilled to represent.”  (Link)
From an Interview (03/2011):
“I appreciate and am looking for both commercial and literary works. The world needs each of them. While I’m open to all young adult and middle grade fiction, I’m particularly interested in historical fiction, science fiction, edgy or dark mystery, magical realism (a la Alice Hoffman), and fantasy (I’m a big fan of Tamora Pierce). I’d love to find a well researched, captivating historical fiction that effortlessly transports the reader back in time, without having the setting detract from character development and plot. Two of my favorite historical fiction authors are Jennifer Donnelly and Diana Gabaldon. Donnelly’s The Tea Rose trilogy is phenomenal in its seamless presentation of 19th century life in London – you really feel like you are there, or that the author lived this firsthand. Gabaldon’s Outlander series does the same thing for 18th century Scotland, and while both of these examples are adult fiction – they have elements that I want to see in a YA book.  I recently read Alexandra Monir’s Timeless and I thought that was a vivid representation of the 1920’s with a fun plot.
“I like edgy books of different ranges, and I like strong voices with subtle humor. Topics of particular interest to me include reincarnation, the occult, the supernatural (not in a zombie or vampire context, more psychic, or witchy, or fey), ghosts (a scary ghost story? yes, please), and psychology. I recently read and loved Kim Harrington’s Clarity – this is a great example of tying in the occult to everyday life, and a subtle use of humor and edge. I’m also interested in multicultural or boy POV middle grade and young adult fiction.
“Of all elements, I’d say I’m most drawn to character complexity and development.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
“I’m not interested in science, technology, nature, religion, politics, or overtly spiritual self-help.” (Link)
“While I've enjoyed a lot of the vampire lit out there, I'm not looking to take on any vampires stories.” (Link)
Editorial Agent?
“Each manuscript is different, and requires different levels of edits, but there are always revisions. One of my favorite parts of my job is brainstorming with my authors. Honestly, I think the days when fiction agents didn’t need to be editorial have passed. Editors are looking for a project to be polished and sparkly by the time it reaches their desk, now more than ever.” (Link)
“I think this is probably everyone’s pet peeve that receives queries, but please don’t send a mass query with no personalization. Or one that is outside of my scope of genres that I represent (no poetry, no adult novels, etc.).” (Link)
There is a list of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency clients on the website.
Ms. Rushall’s clients include: J.R. Johansson, Angie Sandro, Karri Thompson, Pam Calvert, Ruth Donelly, Sandy Grubb, Lenka Vodicka, Ann Delaney, among others.
As of this posting, Ms. Rushall is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 6 deals in the last 12 months and 6 overall. Recent deals include 1 young adult, 5 non-fiction.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.
Snail-Mail: Yes.
Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail: Send a query with the word “Query” in the subject line.
Snail-mail: Send a query letter, 1 page synopsis, and the first ten pages.  For non-fiction, send a query or query and complete proposal.
See the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
“For me personally, the perfect query demonstrates the author’s research (why did you choose me to query?), plot points and character intro (what’s the hook, why do I care about these characters - why do I want to open your sample?), and a brief bit about the author (relevant information – are you a member of SCBWI or any writing groups, published before, writing experience, etc.). Bonus points if you can cite comparable books already on shelves and why yours is different.” (Link)

Response Times:
The agency’s stated response time is 1-4 weeks for queries and 4-8 weeks for sample pages and manuscripts. (Link)
Stats on the web show Ms. Rushall generally responds to queries within days to a month.  Requested material has a response range of days to about six weeks with an average around 2 to 3.
What's the Buzz?
Kathleen Rushall was promoted to full-time agent in March of this year and then moved from Waterside Productions to Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in May.  She has several confirmed sales and her clients seem very happy with her so far.  She’ll be focusing on children’s fiction, picture book through young adult, and representing select non-fiction at Marsal Lyon. I’m looking forward to watching her list grow.
Worth Your Time:
Spotlight On...Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency at Savvy Authors (08/2011).
Interview with Literary Agent Kathleen Rushall at YA Fushion (07/2011).
Interview and Pitch Contest winners with Kathleen Rushall at Operation Awesome (07/2011).
Agent Advice Interview with Kathleen Rushall at Guide to Literary Agents (07/2011).
Friday Firsts: Interview with Kathleen Rushall at Deana Barnhart (06/2011).
Friday Firsts: Kathleen Rushall Interview Part 2 at Deana Barnhart (07/2011).
Interview With My Awesome Agent: Kathleen Rushall! at client J.R. Johansson’s blog (04/2011).
Interview with Agent Kathleen Rushall at Love YA (03/2011).
Around the Web:
Kathleen Rushall on P&E.
Marsal Lyon Literary Agency on P&E.
Marsal Lyon Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite (2009 – Present).   
Please see the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 9/15/11.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 9/15/11.
Update 3/5/2017: As of 2016, Kathleen Rushall is an agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Please check their website for details on what she's looking for and how to submit to her.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.


  1. Kathleen is THE BEST. She's so sweet and enthusiastic. I had a partial with her in July, and while she ended up stepping aside because things were moving pretty fast with the manuscript, she couldn't have been more gracious. She even read my blog!

  2. This is a terrific profile. It's hard to believe that you keep coming up with new agents to research. Although I haven't been commenting as much lately, I still use this blog as my #1 agent resource.

  3. Another amazing profile, Casey. Thanks so much!

  4. I agree with Beth. Another great agent spotlight. I, too, love this place for researching agents and getting a good feel on the direction to take.

  5. Shelly great post! great profile, such as exciting stuff here. Thank you for the posting.

    Sample Cover Letters

  6. Thanks Casey. Kathleen sounds like an awesome agent. I'm definitely adding her to my list to query. I'm loving how you're spotlighting so many agents I don't know about.

  7. wow, awesome! Thanks so much for all of this info on Kathleen! She sounds top-knotch!

  8. Kathleen is extremely professional and courteous. She always has time to respond to my questions and gives great advice.

    Plus, she's hilarious and a wonderful person to have as an agent/friend. I love her to pieces.

  9. There sure are a lot of YA agents. Of course there are a lot of YA being written. Thanks for the info. :)

  10. Great profile! It's nice to see an agent taking picture books. :D

  11. Thanks for the info. I think she'll be a good fit for my manuscript and me!

  12. Thanks, everyone. I'm so glad you enjoy this feature.

    Becky and Angie, thank you for the feedback. Kathleen seems really great!

  13. I love it when clients or people with experience with an agent comment. It adds a lot to the profile.

    Thanks for this, Casey. Your blog is so helpful - I can't thank you enough for all the work you do.

  14. I'm still running behind. Thank you for this Spotlight, Casey.

  15. Yet another awesome profile. Well done!