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.


Hi everyone! Hope you're enjoying the lovely spring weather.

First, here's the winner of SHATTER ME:


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

Today I’m excited to interview Anne Nesbet about her debut book THE CABINET OF EARTHS, which was released January 3, 2012. I really loved THE CABINET OF EARTHS. It was such a unique magical implement that drove a lot of the story.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Mayas own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?

With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family trees brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.

As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.

Hi Anne. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you came to become a writer.

When I was very little, I would sometimes get so frightened of the dark (not just of the "dark," but of the strange sounds our house would make in the dark) that I would pull the covers right over my head to hide--and the problem with that approach is, as you'll know if you've been a fearful kid at some point, that the air soon gets very stuffy under all those blankets, and the scary noises don't go away. It was okay during the daytime, because I could distract myself by reading a book, but at night, when the lights were out . . . shudder. THEN one evening I discovered that if I told myself a story, it was almost as good as reading a real book: I could make myself forget about the dark corners, the shadows, the creaking walls. And I've been living half in stories ever since!

2. I wish I'd learned your technique because I was terrified of the dark as a kid. I love the Cabinet of Earths and the bottles it contains. Where did you get the idea for this and how did you develop it once you thought of it?

When we moved to France for a year, we ended up living in an apartment that had a beautiful glass cabinet in the corner, and in that cabinet were all of these mysterious jars and bottles full of sand. I found out later that our landlady had always had a particular love for deserts, and brought back desert sand as a souvenir from every trip she went on, but of course before I heard that explanation, I had spent many hours staring at those glinting bottles and wondering, wondering, wondering....

3. I love hearing about how story ideas can come from a writer's everyday life like yours did. I’ve read that you’ve lived in France both as a child and have been there as an adult. How did those experiences and your knowledge of French history shape your story?

Well, as I said above, I did encounter an inspiring cabinet in Paris! There were also some strikingly odd and beautiful buildings in our neighborhood, and some of those buildings had bronze salamanders for door handles. And every time I walked under the Eiffel Tower and felt the whole shape of the world shift somehow around me, I knew I wanted to write a story about Paris. When I was a child, I always found Paris a magical place to live. It's a place that's filled with nooks and crannies! There are little, tiny, hidden parks everywhere, and secret courtyards, and bits of Roman walls in the middles of squares, and statues everywhere, and candles in churches, and ancient bridges over the Seine's green water . . . and excellent chocolate croissants to munch on while you explore, of course. Mustn't forget the croissants!

4. Okay you've got me wanting to see it all too. Maya has to figure out her connection to the Cabinet of Earths while worrying about her sick mother and saving her brother. And you’ve done a brilliant job of tying the subplot with her mother into the main plot and using her brother to up the stakes. Tell us how you plotted this out and share any tips you have on weaving in subplots into your story.

What an interesting question! Let's see what I can remember about the plotting process for this one. When I started plotting, I had the character of Cousin Louise (she had come to mind even before Paris), I had the setting of Paris, I had the Cabinet of Earths (and a good idea of what the "earths" came from), and I had a building with a salamander as a door handle. Then I found Maya, and with her came her family's story, her mother's illness, her brother. The plot evolved as I worked this American family into the Parisian setting: I filled a whole pale-blue school notebook with notes and outlines and family trees. Very, very complicated family trees! And at the same time I bought a little box of index cards from the stationery store around the corner and began putting plot points on those cards. I carried them with me wherever I went, and whenever I had an idea, I pulled out a card and wrote it down. Cards are great for plotting, because they're so portable and so easy to shuffle! When I had my deck of plot-cards ready, I wrote. And wrote and wrote! That makes it sound easy, but of course there would be something like 24 revisions involved, eventually.

5. Index cards are such a great idea. I carry them around too. Voice is hard to get right, especially for middle grade stories. How did you find Maya’s voice and what advice do you have for finding our character’s voice? Do you think it’s different for middle grade than YA?

The story is told from a perspective very close to Maya's, but the narrator's voice is not identical to Maya's. That structure is perhaps more common in middle-grade novels than in YA fiction, which is more frequently written in first person (so that the voice of the character really is the one voice we hear). I do think it's important to step back and ask characters what they'd REALLY do or REALLY say in any particular situation. Usually they'll let you know if you've been messing them up!

6. Andrea Brown is your agent. Tell us about your road to finding an agent and to publication.

I met my editor (the wonderful & eagle-eyed Rosemary Brosnan) before I started looking for an agent, so my story's a little atypical, I think. Rosemary saw the first few chapters of The Cabinet of Earths in Paris and asked me to send it to her when I was finished. So that summer I did send it to her and figured I should look for an agent, too. I'm afraid this part gets a little atypical, too: I signed with an agent who left the business two weeks later. Poor Andrea inherited me! She has been a very good sport about it, though.

7. That must have been so rough having your agent leave after you had her for only two weeks. Awesome that Andrea inherited you. You’re a member of The Apocalyspsies  How did you become a member of this group of debut authors and why did you choose this group rather than some of the other ones for debut authors? When should a debut author connect up with a group of other authors debuting and how do you recommend we find out about these groups when they’re forming?

I love the Apocalypsies! Listen, there's only so much angstifying and book-business-fretting that any loved one should be expected to tolerate. The other people going through the crazy process of having a book come out for the first time are the best ones to bond with and plan with and laugh with--I feel very lucky to be mixed up with such a talented crowd! I was an Elevensie before my publication date was shifted to 2012, and I loved the Elevensies, too. I really think joining a debut group for your year is the best way to preserve (shreds of) your sanity. It's easy to find them, I think: just hang out a little on Verla Kay's Blueboards or ask a writer in the current year's group!

8. Great advice. I know I'll need one because my daughter and husband don't talk about my writing woes with me that much. What are the other ways you’ve marketed your book? What worked and what do you wish you’d done differently?

I had lovely launch parties in Berkeley (at the Books Inc. on 4th Street) and in New York City (at The Corner Bookstore), and in April I'll be heading up and down the West Coast as part of the Words of Wonder Book Tour, with my fellow Apocalypsies Marissa Burt, J. Anderson Coats, Jenny Lundquist, Jenn Reese, and Laurisa Reyes! (See the Facebook Events page here.) It may be too early in the year for me to have lots of useful regrets about marketing! I do think all those people who say, "write the next book" have a good point, though.

9.  I wish I lived on the West Coast so I could meet you all. Because I interviewed Jenny too and will be interviewing Marissa and Laurisa. What are you working on now?

I just sent in revisions for A BOX OF GARGOYLES, in which Maya and Valko's adventures in Paris continue. I have three other works-in-progress, and one of them will soon become the official next project. Details to come!

Thanks Anne for sharing all your advice. Good luck with your book. You can find Anne at her website.

Thank you so much for these thoughtful questions, Natalie! I'm delighted to have had the chance to visit Literary Rambles!

Anne generously offered a signed copy of THE CABINET OF EARTHS 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 April 7th. I’ll announce the winner on April 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.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by ShannonWhitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here.

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Here's what's coming up. Next Monday I'm interviewing Leah Bobut and giving away a copy of her debut book ABOVE. I'm really excited to interview Leah because Cheryl Klein, one of my favorite editors, is her editor. Then the following Monday I'm interviewing Jennifer Nielson and giving away a copy of THE FALSE PRINCE. I LOVED this book so much that I immediately e-mailed Jennifer after I finished it to see if she'd be willing to be interviewed. It totally reminds me of Megan Whalen Turner's THE QUEEN'S THIEF series, which I also so loved.

Hope to see you next Monday! 


Andrea Mack said...

I've been wanting to read this one! Thanks for the interview - it's neat to hear how a story gets started.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Thank you for the interview, Natalie. Anne shared some wonderful points. My favorite are how she developed her plot points!

Kristin Lenz said...

The Words of Wonder book tour sounds fun - wish I was closer! I won a book from Natalie recently, so I shouldn't even enter another giveaway for awhile, but my daughter is named Maya - she would LOVE a signed copy of this book!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview! I always love hearing how a story comes about. Potting cards is something I've never tried. I should. I have enough cards to sink a small canoe! Thanks so much for the giveaway. I tweeted : https://twitter.com/#!/debamarshall/status/184266626915512320

Faith E. Hough said...

Wonderful interview (and exciting book)! And I would be lost without index cards...

Enbrethiliel said...


I've been curious about The Cabinet of Earths since I first heard about it and reading about Anne Nesbet's year in Paris is just making me more excited! Thanks for making this international. =) I'm already a follower.

LTM said...

oh, this sounds wonderful! I love the Parisian setting, the salamander door handles, and of course chocolate croissants! yay! I bet my daughters would love this book. Thanks, Natalie & Anne! :o)

Vivien said...

I absolutely love the setting for this novel. Too often it's in a country we already know. Something new is always refreshing.


GFC: Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Taffy said...

Sounds like an interesting book! We could use more MG books! Good interview too. I wish my road to publication to atypical someday :)


Kemendraugh said...

I'd had my eye on this one for a while! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity :)

kemendraugh at gmail dot com

Ali B said...

I recently read and reviewed The Cabinet of Earths as part of the Debut Author Challenge. Neat book! Great interview!


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Anne for sharing all your great advice.

Lori M. Lee said...

I had a question once about editorial letters, and my CP (a member of the Apocalypsies) appealed to them for advice. Many of them replied within minutes, and I am STILL floored by their kindness and generosity :) All that to say I agree that's a fantastic group of talented writers.

I'm really looking forward to this book!

Myrna Foster said...

I've never tried using a box of index cards for plot points before. I wonder if that would work for me. Thanks for this interview! I'm looking forward to reading THE CABINET OF EARTHS. :o)

Tanya said...

Great interview! I just finished reading and reviewing CABINET OF EARTHS and Anne knocked my socks off! Maya is such a detailed, complex, emotional character with an amazing voice - so rare for a fantasy! She reminded me very much of Hazel from Anne Ursu's incredible BREADCRUMBS.

While I would love a signed copy, please do not include me in the contest as I have an ARC.

Barbara Watson said...

Love, LOVE this book! I'm reading it with my kids right now.

The point about middle grade voice is so helpful to me as a writer (#5). So well stated and put in words I hadn't really heard before. Thank you, Anne.

We have a hardcover of this, so make sure someone else wins it!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Great interview, Natalie. You know how much I loved this book! And I'm thrilled to hear there's a sequel in the works.

Natalie said...

This post really makes me want to travel. Maybe one day when I'm finished with all my schooling!

Also, I'm a big fan of index cards. Whenever I have a research paper due, my walls are covered with them! I like to tape them up in clusters and outlines to help me organize my thoughts.

Kim Aippersbach said...

I definitely want to get my hands on this book; it sounds right up my alley. (And now you've got me excited about The False Prince: anything remotely like The Thief and I'm all over it!)

Great interview: you asked interesting questions and Anne gave fascinating responses.

aippersbach at shaw dot ca

Lydia Kang said...

That sounds like a wonderful MG book! Wow, I'd totally love to read this. :)

akoss said...

This book is getting double feature and interview on MMGM. How awesome. I hope I get to win :D

And I believe I will be coming back to re-read this interview. So inspiring.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I would really want to read this book. Its sounds wonderful and I like the way Anne talks about writing with index cards.

Angela Brown said...

Wonderful interview, ladies. Great advice shared. I'll have to make note of some of these things to help with little new shinies popping up in my head.

I love the book blurb. So much conflict going on that it sounds like an intense adventure.

Rosi said...

Terrific interview. Thanks for that. The book sounds delicious! I would love to read it, so thanks for the giveaway, too.

Mart Ramirez said...

What an awesome interview! Loved hearing about how the story came about. It sounds like a great book. Thank you for the chance yo win a copy.
Maryzbookz(@) sbcglobal (dot) net

Carl Scott said...

I love the description of the inspirations for this book, the old cabinet, the salamander door handles, the city of Paris and that weird feeling of the earth-shift at the Eiffel Tower.
I do follow this blog by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
I tweeted about the giveaway as well: https://twitter.com/#!/carlrscott/status/184508291680976896.
Thanks for offering this book.

Mart Ramirez said...

I aplogize. Incorrect email. Here's the correct one: Martbookz(@) sbcglobal ( dot) net. And Ill tweeting about it.

Write Life said...

Anne sounds delightful. Truly delightful!
Would very much love to read her work!

Carina Olsen said...

Oh! Amazing giveaway. <3 This book seems so good! I would love to read it :) And oh. Pretty cover. <3
Love, Carina

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview and your hard work doing these posts all the time!


Cathy Mealey said...

I'm completely entranced by my mental image of a beautiful glass corner cabinet filled with mysterious jars and bottles of sand! This book is moving to the top of my To Be Read stack. Thank you for a terrific interview!

cathy54321 at hotmail dot com

Natasha said...

Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

TerryLynnJohnson said...

another great interview! And thanks for the giveaway!

Kulsuma said...

Awesome giveaway! I'd love to read this:)

Jennifer R said...

This sounds like a fantastic book. Thanks for the interview!

Crochet Addict UK said...

Sounds a fantastic book! Thanks for the interview and the giveaway. susand1408 at googlemail dot com

Anonymous said...

sounds terrific. another MMGM-er featured it, so double dose of nesbet this week!

Georgette C said...

Sounds like a great book!
Thanks for the interview and giveaway.
Email is georgette.coan@yahoo.com

Darlene said...

Following you on GFC (Darlene)

My kids would love this book! Thanks for the giveaway!!

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

Carrie said...

I love love love middle grade books!

GFC Carrie Ardoin

Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/celjla212/status/185177680604442626

celjla212 at aol dot com

Christina said...

Now I am even more excited for this!

GFC: Christina Franke

cynicalsapphire at gmail dot com

TL Conway said...

I've been eyeing The Cabinet of Earths for a few weeks now--would love to win it!

tlconwaywriteshere (at) gogglemail (dot) com

Phoebe's Sisters said...

The book sounds wonderful and I'd love the chance to read it! Thank you for the interview and the giveaway :-))


Martina Boone said...

Lovely interview, Natalie. I will definitely need to add this to my TBR. You always make me fall in love with middle grade all over again.


Ellisa said...

Adventure book! I would love to read this one. It'll be a fresh read between my dystopian fiction piles!

GFC - Ellisa

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

I saw this book around in the MMGM features, and it looks very interesting. Fab interview!

GFC follower

aliasgirl at libero dot it

Ryan said...

sounds like a great book