Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Monica Rodriguez Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/8/2022
  • Agent/Author Marlo Berliner and Refe Tuma Guest Post With Frances and the Monster and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/15/2022
  • Lynette Novak Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/17/2022
  • Sarah Fink Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/12/2022
  • Jazmia Young Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/21/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.


Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you’re having a great start to your week. Anna Li and I had a good week. She was on spring break and we went on two college visits. We liked both of the colleges--University of Michigan and Kalamazoo College.

I'm finding I'm tired a lot, especially at night, which I think is normal. But it means I'm reading less. So more of my interviews for a bit will be without me reading the books. I am planning to get back to reading blogs again at least on Mondays and Wednesdays. I've missed everyone and I know some of you are doing the A-Z challenge.

I have two winners to announce.

The winner of BEYOND THE DOOR is Carl Scott!

And the winner of THE MAKING OF NEBRASKA BROWN is Robin Hall!

Today I’m excited to have Emma Pass here to share about her debut YA dystopian, ACID. It was released in the UK last year and released in the US last month. I’ve been excited to read it since I first heard about it last year and am hoping to read it soon.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna's violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary.

When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn't know who to trust?

Strong, gritty writing, irresistible psychological suspense, and action consume the novel as Jenna struggles to survive against the all-controlling ACID. Seriously sinister stuff.

Hi Emma! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell me about yourself and how you became a writer.

Hi Natalie, thanks for interviewing me! I live in the UK with my husband, who's an artist, and our crazy rescue greyhound G-Dog. I've always loved writing, and first realized that this was what I actually wanted to do for a living when I was 13 and went to see the film Jurassic Park. Afterwards, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and decided to write a story about what happened next (The Lost World hadn't been published/released yet!). This became my first ever novel, most of which I wrote in math lessons with my notebook hidden under my work. As a result, I still have to count on my fingers when I need to add up – but I've been hooked on writing ever since!

2. Funny. You’d better not give kids who are budding writers the idea to write in math class. Where did you get the idea for your story?

ACID is based on a story I wrote when I was 14, after a friend and I challenged each other to write something about a character escaping from prison in a sinister future world. Over the years, I kept coming back to the idea, and in 2008 I decided to try writing it as a YA novel. That novel became ACID.

3. So awesome you were able to come back to it and then have it become your debut novel. Your world building for this sounds fantastic. Share a bit about your world building process and any tips for the rest of us.

I've always loved to imagine 'what if?', so that's what I used as my starting point. What if a sinister police force ruled the UK instead of the government? What if they watched everyone and tried to control everything they did? What if you could get thrown in jail for the slightest of crimes? And what would technology be like? How would society function? It was a long but fun process of asking myself questions, then trying to answer them.

4. “What if” is a great question to keep asking ourselves as we write. Jenna sounds like an
amazing, strong character and is one of the reasons I really want to read this. What was your character development process like for her?

She marched into my head more or less fully formed! I do some planning, but always give my characters the freedom to develop organically as I write the first draft and uncover their stories. I didn't know much about Jenna when I first started writing about her, so learning about what had happened to her and why was very exciting.

5. It’s always great getting to know our characters. It’s like meeting a new friend. What was something you struggled with craft-wise in writing ACID and what did you learn from the process?

The plot is very complicated – the first book I'd ever written with such a complicated plot – and it took a long time to work it out and get all the twists and turns in place. It taught me that I could – and should – really stretch myself as a writer, because when I started I was convinced the idea was 'too big' for me, and felt very scared (as well as excited) about starting it.

6. Your agent is Carolyn Whitaker. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.

I approached Carolyn for representation in 2007 with a contemporary YA novel I'd spent the previous 18 months writing. She took me on with it but unfortunately, it didn't sell, despite being on sub for almost a year. That was when I started writing ACID, which we sold to Random House Children's Publishing in 2011.

7. Awesome you kept writing while your first book was on submission. I’ve heard many debut authors recommend this while on submission. Your book debuted last year. What did you learn about marketing your book during your debut year and what advice do you have for the rest of us who haven’t been published yet about our debut year?

The biggest thing I've learned about marketing my own book is that it feels SO awkward! I still have trouble telling people I'm a writer. However, I love to shout about other people's books and their book-related news, and they do the same for me, so it all works out in the end.

8. I love shouting out about authors’ books too. How are you planning to spread the word about your book in the US? Does living in the UK make it harder?

I have been very lucky – Delacorte Press have done some amazing marketing, including artwork to promote ACID to fans of the Divergent movie, advertising on teen.com and a forthcoming blog post for Amazon. I'm part of a wonderful group of authors, The Lucky 13s, many of whom are based in the US and are helping to spread the word, and I'm also doing posts and interviews for blogs like this one.

9. Awesome Delacorte is helping with the marketing. What are you working on now?

I'm thinking about some new projects, but I don't want to say too much about them at this stage as I'm very superstitious about new stories! So watch this space…

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Emma. You can find Emma at:

Emma’s publisher has generously offered a copy of ACID for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through April 26th. I’ll announce the winner on April 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US & Canada only.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday I have a guest post conversation with debut author Skila Brown and her agent Tina Wexler about revising. There will be a giveaway of Skila’s MG book in verse CAMINAR inspired by the civil war in Guatemala. And Tina Wexler is offering a query critique too!

Next Monday I’m interviewing debut author Alexandra Duncan and giving away a copy of SALVAGE, a YA sci-fi story with fantastic world building and a contemporary feel.

Next Wednesday Rory Shay will be sharing a guest post on persistence on the path to publication and giving away a copy of ELECTED, her new YA sci-fi story.

The following Monday, I’m interviewing Dianne Salerni and giving away a copy of THE EIGHTH DAY, her new middle grade fantasy. This is a fantastic, well-plotted story that I couldn’t put down.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


  1. Emma's book sounds great (awesome cover too!). Sounds like an intriguing world with a fascinating character :)

  2. Congrats to Emma! Nice to hear about the publisher marketing efforts too. Save this giveaway for someone else who's ready to read it - my TBR pile is toppling again!

  3. Congrats! Definitely a good idea to keep writing while you're early stuff is on submission. And a publisher who markets. Yay!

  4. So much happening here Natalie. Love the sound of ACID and what a gorgeous cover !

  5. Natalie, whether or not you're keeping up with visiting other peoples' blogs, you're doing an awesome job of keeping up with your own. That must be tough under such difficult circumstances.
    Rachel and I have started visiting schools this spring - hard to believe that a year from now she'll have committed to one!
    Congratulations to Emma on the success of her book. No need to enter me in the draw, but good luck to the others.

  6. Congrats to Emma on Acid - wishing her all the best! It's nice to learn more about her. Thanks, Natalie for the intro and interview. I'll pass on the giveaway, the TBR pile is through the roof.

    Take care of yourself, okay? Sending hugs your way. You continue in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. I do think it is very important for a publisher to have marketing ideas. I find that most really work. ACID sounds absolutely fabulous. Best of luck!!
    GFC: Vivien

    kellis_amberlee at yahoo dot com

  8. Ever since Acid came out in the UK, I've been impatiently waiting for an US release. I'm so excited!
    Thanks for the giveaway and great interview!


    1. I twitted for an extra entry:


  9. I generally don't read futuristic books, but this one sounds so good that I am seriously going to get it. You might be introducing me to a new love! Thanks.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

  10. Great to meet Emma and good luck with Acid! I'll check out her social network sites to be sure we're connected. And I'm interested in agent spotlights as I';; be looking for a small publisher for my next book.

  11. Hi, Natalie, Hi, Emma...

    First congrats! How cool. LOVE the cover. And the premise is very intriguing.

    Your story is the first I've heard about author's who have an agent and their first book doesn't sell, but I am happy for you and ACID.

    ALL THE BEST, Emma!

    Looking forward to reading it.

  12. Congrats to Emma, her book sounds great. I especially like the title: Acid.
    Thanks Natalie for the intro to Emma.

  13. What a killer story concept and cover! Best of luck to Emma. :)

  14. Another super GB author. I'm in love with that title. Short, intriguing and ominous. Love it when characters march into my head fully formed. Wish it happened more frequently.

  15. Congrats to Emma on her agent, her sale, and especially the cover designer - awesome! It's lucky she got inspired by the Jurassic Park movie way back when. :)

  16. I do enjoy a great dystopian read and ACID sounds right up my alley. Wishing Emma the best with this and all other publications and as always, I enjoyed the Q&A.

  17. Congratulations to Emma, her book sounds great. I like the title.

    Thanks Natalie for the introduction to Emma.

  18. Emma, I can relate to wanting to promote others rather than my own work. And my first book was from a story I wrote as a young teen. Cool we both went back to an early story.

  19. I'm with Emma; it's MUCH easier promoting other people's books than my own.

  20. *hugs* Natalie.

    And wow on that cover! Love it! And thanks for the 'What if?' reminder. :)

    1. And I agree about the promotion. It's much easier and more fun promoting other authors' books than your own.

  21. Nice to see a publisher doing so much promotion!

  22. Great job, Emma! Hope ACID is a huge success! Loved reading about how you started writing....in math (so funny!)! Love the cover!

  23. Hooray for Emma. ACID sounds like a great ride.

  24. Ooh, kick-ass cover! I love it! And Jenna sounds like the kind of strong heroine I like ;-)

  25. ACID sounds great! I love dystopian. thank you.

  26. Thanks for the great giveaway! And no worries on reading less. Go ahead and get some well deserved rest. The books will still be there when your energy returns. :)

    Email: bookedtiltuesday (at) gmail (dot) com

  27. Acid sounds like an awesome novel, and I'd love to win it (or buy it!) Emma's writing process sounds a lot like mine. Knowing that makes me feel like I'm doing something right. Thanks to you both for this interview!

  28. Ooh! That cover is epic, and so is the blurb. I love it! Writing during math class... That's awesome.

    Natalie, I'm so glad you're going to be around a little more. Missed you!

  29. Thanks for the giveaway!! C:
    I love that cover!

    I shared Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/xMikky/posts/482368348529330?stream_ref=10

    & Twitter: https://twitter.com/xMikkyMouse/status/456086194212720641

  30. So glad you and your daughter got away for a productive spring break. My daughter and I leave tomorrow for hers. We're meeting my sister in NYC and painting the town.

  31. What a gorgeous cover! It's great to see such determination to follow your passion and achieve your dreams. It sounds like a really interesting book too.

  32. Good to hear you and Anna Li had a good week. I've been thinking of you both. Still sending love and prayers.
    Great interview! And love the cover! Congrats to Emma!

  33. The book sounds fascinating!

  34. I like how your questions reference the previous answer. Makes the interview more fluid. A lot of author interviews are boring because they are so formulaic.

  35. Writing in math class, way to go!!! This book is on my TBR list.

  36. I love this line: "It taught me that I could – and should – really stretch myself as a writer, because when I started I was convinced the idea was 'too big' for me, and felt very scared (as well as excited) about starting it."! I'm grappling with a big idea right now too and I also worry it's too much for me to handle, but Emma's inspiring me to just do it. :)

    What a great story of how this novel came to be! The ideas that stick with us are truly worth pursuing. Congratulations to Emma!

  37. congrats to the winners! Acid has an amazing cover and sounds brilliant! love to see a writer just go for it and stop thinking about but just doing it :)

  38. Cover is kick butt all kinds of awesome! Will definitely draw in the younger crowd :-) Great interview, too!

  39. Hi! I popped over here from Blog Blitz! on behalf of Natalie Aguirre and to see this fine website! What a terrific interview and I loved reading about the secrets of writing and developing a novel while another is on submission. Bless Natalie and all the best to her and the rest of you all here. Mary xoxo

  40. Wow, this sounds interesting!

  41. I'm here from the Blog Blitz as well. I hope you enjoy the day!!

  42. Wonderful interview. Hope you are enjoying your blitz day!

  43. I'm getting tired very early at nights as well. Two young children to thank for that!
    Happy blitz day :)

  44. Great interview, ..have a gloriously Happy Blitz Day, m'Lady :)

  45. Happy blitz day.

    Congrats to the winners and I love that strong, one-word title.

  46. Happy Blitz Day! Interview was worth the read.

  47. It's always interesting to read of authors who started early in life. I am just a couple of months short of 65, and beginning to think about my first opus!
    Happy Blitz Day.

  48. Great job on interview. Happy blitz day.

  49. Great interview. Your site is so helpful and informative! Happy Blog Blitz Day! :)

  50. Great interview, and I see shades of 1984 in ACID! Sounds like a great read. Happy Blitz Day! Cheers, marci (fuzzyundertones.com)

  51. Great Cover Pic and awesome Interview .. sounds like a nice book I would definitely check out the copy of the book. And yeah Happy Blitz Day.

  52. I've never submitted anything to an agent, but those tips are awesome if I ever do!

    Happy Blitz Day :)

  53. I'm glad to hear you and Anna Li were able to take a break with college visits.

    ACID sounds like an exciting read, and it's so cool that it was sparked by a story Emma wrote when she was young. Hmmm... maybe I need to dig out my old stories.

  54. Great interview! I'm so excited this book is finally out in the U.S.! I've been wanting to read Acid ever since I first heard about it on Pub Crawl, forever ago!

    And Natalie, I'm glad that you and Anna Li had a good week. :)

  55. Nice interview with helpful info. The book sounds great, but please let someone else win. I am drowning in books right now.

  56. I loved reading this interview! It was great to learn about where Emma got the idea for Acid and how it came to be published. I would love to read it! Also, I was cracking up thinking about her writing in math class- I can relate. :)

    My book is being published by Delacorte next summer- so it is wonderful to hear what a great job they did marketing Acid! Yeah! :)
    Wishing Emma the best of luck!
    ~Jess (haightjess at gmail dot com)