Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


First I want to say how excited I am about the response to my Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway. Wow! I am SO excited! I've had over 200 entries and about 150 new followers since Friday. Thank you all so much for entering and spreading the word. And welcome to all our new followers. You can still enter the contest until midnight tomorrow, December 6th here.

Next, I’ll announce the winner of ENTICE. The winner is:


Congrats. E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.

Today I’m excited to interview Karsten Knight about his debut book WILDEFIRE that was released in July. I loved the different world mythologies he used in the story and Ash’s unique powers. I read this on vacation and it totally made my lonely airplane rides enjoyable.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Every flame begins with a spark.
Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Hi Karsten. Thanks so much for joining us. 1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

To trace my origins as a writer, you’d have to go back twenty years to when I was six. It was the first grade, and I started this picture book series about a zany worm who went on adventures to exotic locations—the Wild West, sunken ghost ships…it was very popular with my classmates. At some point I made the switch to novel-length fiction, but I sort of lost myself as a writer when I graduated college and joined the Real World. After I lost my job as an admissions counselor back in 2009, I turned back to writing and started work on a draft that eventually became Wildefire.

2. I always admire people who knew they wanted to write as a kid. I had no clue as a kid that I’d ever write. Glad you turned back to it. You draw on a lot of different mythologies—Polynesian, Shinto, and Zulu, to name a few. What research did you do and what sources did you use to learn about these different mythologies?

I did a fair amount of research, using databases like Pantheon (fantastic website)…but I didn’t want Wildefire to read like a mythology textbook. In the end, these characters are reincarnations of gods, so some of the major questions they face are: do we come back the same every lifetime? Do we have the opportunity reinvent ourselves, in new environments, or are there innate facets of our personalities that manifest the same way every reincarnation? While I drew from their divine namesakes, I wanted the freedom to let their powers and personalities percolate and evolve naturally in the book itself.

3. Ooh, I’ll have to check out that website. But I agree that it’s fun as a writer to not be totally bound by the mythology in creating your story. Being an adoptive mom, I love that Ash is adopted. What made you decide she should be adopted? And what were the challenges writing from her POV?

All of the reincarnated gods in the book are actually adopted. Part of the eerie mystery of the series is Ashline and the others trying to figure out where they really come from, since they just sort of appear as infants around the world without any visible birth parents. So the adoptive choice was in some ways a practical one. But since as I mentioned before, the story is so focused on the question of how much environment affects our character development, I thought it would be really layered to see how a Polynesian volcano goddess might grow up raised in a mostly monochromatic community where she’s struggling to find a sense of belonging. Actually, the scene between Ash and her adoptive parents in the first chapter didn’t appear in the original draft; I wrote it as part of a revision suggestion from my editor, and it’s now one of my favorite scenes in the novel.

4. I love that scene. And as an adoptive parent, I know many of us struggle with these questions for our kids as we try to give them a sense of belonging and of their racial identity that is not part of our own experience. A major focus of the story is Ash’s stormy relationship with her sister Eve. Tell us how you developed this aspect of the story and what real life experiences, if any, you drew on.

The central focus in so many YA books, especially paranormal, is usually the “mysterious new love interest.” Honestly, while I enjoy romance as much as the next reader, I sometimes grow a bit weary of reading crush-centric YA. While there’s definitely a romantic element to Wildefire (the elusive Colt Halliday) I wanted the series to revolve around the complexities of family instead—particularly sisterhood. The relationship between Ashline and her wild-child sister Eve is basically sibling rivalry magnified and ignited through the lens of two volatile Polynesian goddesses.

5. I like when the romantic element isn’t the major focus too. Ash is Polynesian-American and many of the other characters are also ethnically diverse. Do you have any tips on developing diverse characters and the right balance for showing their ethnicity in regards to their character development?

I love seeing multiculturalism and diversity in YA lit…but I think it’s just as important to make sure it’s not depicted one-dimensionally. By that I mean: it’s great to have a character reflect on their own diversity, even struggle with it, but don’t make that their sole focus every waking moment, and definitely don’t be afraid to let them have some fun outside of that bubble. A Polynesian character doesn’t need to be contemplative of her heritage 24/7. A gay character can have moments where he’s not preoccupied full-time by his sexuality and where it fits into American culture. Let their differences and uniqueness enrich and complicate their lives in both relatable and surprising ways, while not letting it solely define them. Our childhoods are the product of so, so many things, and while we struggle to find our place, don’t forget those moments of joy that shine through when we’re not burdened by the bigger questions. Scott Tracey’s WITCH EYES is a great recent role model for this in YA.

6. That’s such great advice. Funny that you mention Scott Tracey because I just interviewed him last week. Guys, there’s a link at the top of the blog to my interview of Scott and you can enter to win a copy of his book.

Tell us a bit about your road to publication and how you got your agent, Mary Kole.

My road to publication was sort of backwards from the natural progression. I started querying Wildefire back in Spring 2010, just to a very few, select group of agents, including Mary who was one of my first choices from the start. I really wanted to test-drive my query and sample chapter, rather than spamming the entire agent database at once. I was lucky enough to get three bites almost immediately for full manuscripts. At the same time, somewhat unbeknownst to me, a classmate in my Master’s program who worked at Simon & Schuster passed along my book to my future editor there. A few days later I got a call from Courtney Bongiolatti (my editor), saying she’d just finished Wildefire on the train and wanted to make an offer. Mary was just finishing up reading the book as well, loved it, and stepped into handle contract negotiations and all of my future works. Unorthodox, but I was lucky enough to land my dream editor and dream agent in the same day, and they’ve all blossomed into great pairings.

7. I’d call your journey one we’d all love to experience. That’s awesome that Mary was one of your top agent choices. She sounds like such a great agent. I’ve always wondered how authors decide on the blogs to include in a blog tour. I noticed you did a lot of interviews on your own blog tour. Can you tell us how you arranged that and how you decided what blogs to include?

I was lucky enough to have a great blog tour coordinator take care of most of the work for me! Cindy at Books Complete Me was one of Wildefire’s earliest fans, before its release, and offered to take care of scheduling the tour. As much as I enjoy vlogging, I actually usually am not crazy about doing promo—it distracts me from writing, which is what I’m really here to do. So we kept it light, over 7 great YA blogs, and we kept it goofy…so basically in step with my bizarre sense of humor.

8. Thanks for sharing how that worked out. What are you working on now?

Wildefire’s sequel, EMBERS & ECHOES, is now done and in copy-edits—that will come out August 28, 2012. I’m also working on AFTERGLOW, Book 3, as well as a top secret non-Wildefire project that I will choose to remain mysterious on…for now.

Thanks Karsten for sharing all your great advice. Good luck with your books. You can find Karsten at his blog.

I’m giving away my copy of WILDEFIRE for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on January 7th. I’ll announce the winner on January 9th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. On Wednesday, I'll be doing a special blog post so I can interview Shelli Johannes-Wells as part of her blog tour for UNTRACEABLE. I'll be giving away a copy of her book. Then on Monday I'm interviewing Louise Caiola and giving away a copy of her debut book WISHLESS. I’ll do one last post in December the following Monday where I interview a teenage guy who’s mom is a published author for my ASK THE EXPERT series and I’ll be doing a book giveaway as well.

Then since I know everyone's going to be busy with the holidays and maybe not reading blogs as much, I want to give you a heads up about my first interview in January. On January 9th I'll be interviewing Marie Lu and giving away a copy of LEGEND.

Hope to see you Wednesday!


miki said...

i don't know if i can enter since i won something but if i can please enter me

this book seems really great thanks you for the giveaway

thanks you for your generosity


Unknown said...

Nice post.I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up
Orange county real estate

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Karsten is awesome and funny, too. Glad to see all his success. I'd LOVE a copy of this book!!

storyqueen said...

Great interview.

I have not read Karsten's book yet, but now I am dying to!

Laura Pauling said...

I love hearing dream publications stories like that b/c it's definitely not the norm! Congrats, Karsten!

So glad you're giving his book away. I've been wanting to read it.

laurapauling at yahoo dot com

Lydia Kang said...

I love that the book is multicultural. It's true, there isn't as much as there should be. Sounds like a fabulous read!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great, GREAT interview! I can't wait to read books 2 & 3, Karsten, and I love the title, Echoes and Embers. I would LOVE to win this one, since I gave away my own ARC! :-)

I tweeted.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing your great advice Karsten.

Miki, you can enter this contest too.

Barbara Watson said...

Sounds like a great one! Thank you for offering the giveaway.

Karsten, that's a whole lot of projects going on.

Christina Lee said...

Hi Natalie and Karsten!!!!

I've read Wildefire and featured it on my blog a couple of months ago too! YAY!!

I love that you wrote a worm book in the first grade and hearing about your road to publication (did not know all of that).

Carina Olsen said...

Oh, Wildefire seems like an AMAZING book :D I would love love love to win it. <3 Thank you so much for the chance :)
Love, Carina ~ carina-olsen@hotmail.com

Kerri Cuev said...

I've been wanting to read this one since it came out! GREAT interview Casey and great answers Karsten! Have a lovely week.

Bidisha said...

Karsten's book has been on my wishlist for a while now, so, you know, I'd just really love to win (like everyone else here).

This interview's a great read.


Kelly Polark said...

Great interview, you two! I'd love to read Karsten's book!

Anonymous said...

So excited about this giveaway! :)

GFC: echika
email: echika[at]insightbb[dot]com

Akoss said...

This one is on my TBR pile as part of a multicultural reading challenge I'm doing. Crossing fingers to win.


Jessie Humphries said...

I love everything about this interview. It is also totally refreshing to find a dude author write a chic protog. I can't wait to read it.

Rachael Harrie said...

Awesome interview! I've wanted to read Wildefire for ages.



erica and christy said...

I love that he remembers back to his first books he wrote when he was six. I teach second grade and whenever my students get excited about their writing, I wonder (and hope) if it's the start of a life-long love affair with creating characters and stories! christy

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Wow! This book sounds fantastic. I love that Karsten drew from different mythologies instead of the usual Greek or Roman or Norse.

And how lucky he was to get his dream agent! I can't believe he's only 26. He'll be an author to watch.

Valia Lind said...

I've been wanting to read this book but just havent gotten around to it! Great interview!! :)


Jennifer R said...

Wow, Natalie, so much excitement on your blog! Great review!

Christina Farley said...

I MUST have this book. It's my kind of book ten times over. So excited about it! Great interview and it's fun to see how all the details fell into place.

Nickie said...

I have wanted to read his book FOREVER! I am such a book-addict it's not even funny. I would love to have your copy of the book. <3

Kimberly said...

Great interview and congrats on all the new followers. Wildefire sounds like an awesome read.

Vivien said...

I feel like I've been wanting to read this one for months!! It's definitely on my wishlist.


deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Llehn said...

I'd love to play please.

GFC follower.


primrose said...

I love mythology stories!

GFC: Primrose
Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/Primrose_musing/status/143890763447676928


Stina said...

I'm adding this book to my TBR list. Too bad it's not in a guy's pov. My 11 year old would have loved it. But alas, he's at that age when girl protagonists aren't cool. That being said, he read the blurb for Legend and wanted to read it. So I bought it for his birthday next week. Fortunately he's a fast reader. I also want to read it. :D

I would love to win a copy of Wildefire.
stinalindenblatt (at) shaw (dot) ca

Angela Brown said...

I adore the premise of this book. It sounds very compelling and intriguing. Definitely going on my TBR list.

Also, wonderful interview :-)

Ashley @ Bookaholics Anonymous said...

I love reading interviews.
I've started reading this a few times and got about halfway through and never finished it because I was trying to read it on my computer so a pretty hard finished copy would be awesome.


Aeicha @ Word Spelunking said...

Great interview!

Thanks for the giveaway!
GFC: Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

I posted about the giveaway on FB here: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=185735118185869&id=270938366255554

Myrna Foster said...

This is such a great interview! I especially liked his story about how he found an editor. Crazy. :o)

Thanks for the giveaway!

Jenna Cooper said...

I've only heard great things about this book, and I'm dying to read it! Thanks for this chance!

email: jennalizis[at]gmail[dot]com

Martha Ramirez said...

Wow. What a story! Congrats. Your book looks awesome!

Mary Preston said...

I would love to read WILDEFIRE thank you.

GFC: Mary Preston


Anonymous said...

Sounds great. Thanks!

Follower via GFC: Anna Friday

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/annafriday11/status/143995078552195072

annafriday11 (@) gmail (dot) com

IdentitySeeker said...

Thanks so much for this great giveaway:) I've heard alot about Wildefire (I had no idea it drew on Polynesian, Zulu and Shinto mythologies!) and look forward to reading it some day.

GFC follower: IdentitySeeker
Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/SweetNSensible/status/143999060053987330


MarcyKate said...

This book sounds awesome, I'd love to win!

marcykate (a) gmail.com

(Following via google reader RSS and GFC.)

iLuvReadingTooMuch said...

Great interview and thanks for the amazing giveaway! I've been meaning to get my hands on this :)

GFC: iLuvReadingTooMuch

thanks again!

iliveforreading AT hotmail DOT com

Casey McCormick said...

Love Karsten! Great interview, you two. It was fun learning more about his journey.

My first stories were about an ant... guess there was something about insects for us as kids, Karsten. : )

Kris @Imaginary Reads said...

Karsten Knight has such a great sense of humor. I also especially love how he focuses on making the story real and not crush-centric! I haven't read Wildefire yet, and I really need to get to it!

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/SummersKris/status/144083362305413120

elfdrop at gmail dot com

jpetroroy said...

Great interview. Karsten seems like a great guy.

jpetroroy at gmail dot com

Jade said...

That interview was a lot of fun to read! Your questions were really well done, it gave awesome insight into Karsten :)

GFC follower: Jade Teo
Oh, thanks for the chance!


Kulsuma said...

I would love to read Wildefire! Sounds amazing!
GFC follower-Kulsuma

Unknown said...

Awesome interview Natalie! You always ask the coolest questions. What a story!

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

Loved the intereview! And karsten totally sounds like a great guy (also...kinda handsome!!!!) and I liked his publishing story.

GFC reading mind

Amanda said...

Wildefire has been on my wishlist since forever!
amercnchic (at) aol (dot) com

Jolene and Family said...

Great interview!! I cannot wait to read this, sounds amazing

GFC follower


A'lina said...

I love reading author interviews! Get a look at the person behind the story. Wildefire has been on my wishlist and I'm really looking forward to reading it, it sounds like a great read.

Tamara said...

I can't WAIT to read this book!

Tweeted too :) @tamarafelsinger

ArtemisG said...

Very beautiful interview, your questions are great. Thank you for the giveaway!
GFC follower as Diana
I shared it on FB: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1522821560

artgiote at gmail dot com

Jessy said...

I lOve the fact that Karsten focused more on the relationship between sisters then a love interest. I think so many times in YA novels the romance aspect gets played out quickly.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/emma015/status/144495509938245633

Findjessyhere at gmail dot com

Malvina Beatrice said...

Heard about this & I would really love to read it.

GFC: Malvina Beatrice

justJoan said...

This is one of the books I'm dying to read (on my Christmas wish list)!


Erin N said...

I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, great giveaway and interview!


I've tweeted about this as well

Sarah said...

YAY! I really want this book!!!

sarah71966 at yahoo dot com

Michael G-G said...

Editor and agent in one day?! I'd have spoiled it all and died on the spot.

Great interview--and it sounds like a fantastic book. Count me in.

Amy S. said...

This sounds like a great book! I'd love to win your copy. I really enjoy stories that incorporate mythology. I'm a new follower too. Thanks for the giveaway!

Yvonne C said...

Great interview. This book has been on my radar for awhile, would love to win a copy!

umeboshi23 at gmail dot com

T. P. Jagger said...

That's an agent/editor story worthy of a brief pang of jealousy. Very cool. I'm definitely adding Wildefire to my "to read" list.

Juliana said...

Wildefire sounds great! Karsten seems great! Mary Kole seems great!

I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/Juliana_Haygert/status/147977685904261120

And facebooked it.

Thanks =)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I've been wanting to read this for a while. I'd love to win a copy! thanks for the opportunity!

Gabi said...

This looks like a fun book. :] Thank you for the giveaway!

Gabi: teddycavygal at yahoo dot com

Heather Kelly said...

I would love to win this book, thanks for the opportunity!

Also--HELLO you guys--I feel like I haven't said hi in ages. I hope you are having a fantastic holiday!!

hegkelly at gmail dot com

Natasha Areena said...

Oh ! There is a sequel. I need to read Wildfire first

Christy said...

I have to read this book sounds great!

New follower too!

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Ceska said...

I'm not sure what I expected from Wildefire...I saw the rave reviews, but I still wasn't completely convinced. The premise sounded a little been there, done that to me. Wow, was I wrong. I discovered from page 1 that this book was something different. Wildefire is something awesome.