Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Jazmia Young Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/13/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

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 Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Rosaria Munda and her agent Danielle Burby here to share about Rosaria's YA fantasy FIREBORNE. It sounds like a real page turner with high stakes for Annie and Lee.

But before I get to their post, I have my IWSG Post.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Optional Question: Should you be a reader if you are a writer or is it okay not to read?

I think writers should read and should read some in their own genre. You support other authors by reading and can learn a lot about the craft of writing and how other people handle issues in your genre by reading other stories. I don't think that you have to read all the time, but some time should be spent on this.

What do you think?

Now onto Rosaria's and Danielle's guest post. First, here's a blurb of FIREBORNE from Goodreads:

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that's full of rivalry, romance... and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

Now here's Rosaria and Danielle!

Hi Danielle! So we've been together for two years now and I think we've both had some exciting moments in those last two years. I still remember when I received your offer email, I actually screamed aloud--and I was standing in line in a DMV! Now that Fireborne's almost out, are there any points in our journey that you remember particularly vividly?

We definitely have had a ton of exciting moments! This has been such a fun ride. I mean, the first thing I remember is reading Fireborne and being blown away. The word on the street at that time was that the bar for YA fantasy was getting higher and it was getting harder to sell so some people were shying away from it, but I didn’t care how hard it might be—I needed to represent you. Of course, it didn’t turn out to be that hard after all because multiple editors saw your brilliance too ;)

Meeting you for the first time was so much fun! It is always so funny how well you can get to know someone and how closely you can work together and still never have met in person. I think we’d been working together for close to nine months when you visited NY? Is that right?

The auction itself was such a rush and then, really, everything that has happened since. Seeing the cover on the wall at BEA was such a surreal moment. Your four starred reviews, your NY Comic Con panel, going on tour. It is so exciting to me that other people are getting to experience this story that I love so much and it is even more exciting that they love it too. 

Let's talk about the genre that brought us together--YA fantasy! What draws you to YA fantasy?
Oh gosh, everything. I have always been a huge YA fantasy reader. I love being swept up into another world and I love the big questions fantasy asks. When YA fantasy is done well, it is the most enjoyable kind of story to lose yourself in. It functions on such an epic scale and I’m such a sucker for the excitement of it all. 

You manage to keep a tight handle on that inbox. It's rare that I don't hear from you within 24 hours of an email--and even then you send such charming IOU emails! How do you stay so on top of things?
Ha! It definitely isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I also love it because my email exchanges with my
clients are always such interesting conversations. I’m a very client-focused agent and I made a promise to myself when I started that I would prioritize responsiveness. Part of that is being super selective about who I take on and keeping my client list on the smaller side so I have time for everyone. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but even when I’m not working, I am constantly taking quick little peeks at my work emails just to make sure I know what’s going on. I do try not to respond outside of business hours though! 

I also have stacks and stacks of post it notes all over my desk with all the things I need to get done, which is a little ridiculous. I keep telling myself to get a better (and tidier!) system, but post it notes are what work for me so I guess I should just embrace that. 

We once had a conversation where we realized that you and my main character Annie are both a "6" on the enneagram, the loyal friend/protector. How do you feel like these personality traits help you as a literary agent?
That’s a really awesome and interesting question! One of my most useful 6 traits is anticipating problems, which I think is a big part of agenting. I’m always running through scenarios in my head so I feel like I’m prepared for just about anything that comes up. I’m also very organized, which helps a ton because I’m always juggling lots of different projects at once.

Your list has titles ranging from MG to adult, from contemporary to fantasy--and yet I've yet to read a book you represented that I didn't absolutely love. What would you say are some of the things that unite the books and clients on your list?
Aww shucks. That is literally the nicest thing you could ever say to me! I think the thing that unites my clients is that they are all true artists. All of my clients, no matter the genre or age range they write for, are writers who have a rare ability to say something true and powerful and honest. Those are the creators who interest me and those are the stories that interest me. My clients are all people who can look at the human condition and say something thought provoking about it. That isn’t an easy feat!

Is there anything (story, genre, trope) you're particularly hungry for these days?
Hmm I would love to add some middle grade to my list! And it has been quite a while since I’ve fallen in love with an adult project. I would be thrilled to find an upmarket women’s fiction to work on. 

Lastly, as an author, I can't have favorites. But you can! For Fireborne, would you say you're Team Lee or Team Annie? :)
Oh no, I can’t! I feel like you’re trying to make me choose my favorite child. I am team both! Lee and Annie are incredible characters, but part of what elevates them to spectacular characters is their complicated relationship to each other. So team both. All the way :) 

Now Danielle is interviewing Rosaria.

I know you felt inspired to write Fireborne after reading Plato’s Republic and realizing there was a YA book in there, but do you remember the exact moment the idea came to you? And how soon after that did Lee and Annie make their appearance in your mind?
Oh, boy. Honestly the first notes on Fireborne predate that class on Plato's Republic--it was the summer before college when I had an hour long commute to my job, and was listening to an audiobook--still cannot remember why--about the Blitz. I remember walking through a field with my friend (we lived in the middle of nowhere) excitedly telling him, "Okay, it's going to be like Ender's Game, but with pilots--and in North Korea." Basically zero of that survived. It's been a real ship of theseus project! Annie and Lee are two characters that have been around even longer--they showed up in various forms in stories I wrote in high school, too. 

We recently talked about the construct of “the chosen one” and your creation of Annie as an antidote to that concept. She really subverts that trope in a cool way and it was fun to hear how consciously you constructed that. Are there any other tropes you were looking to subvert in Fireborne?
Ooh yes, l love subverting tropes! A few I'd say I wanted to subvert are Mean Blonde Girls, Deposed Aristocrats Seeking Vengeance, and most of all Revolution as a Panacea for Dystopia.

We’ve been doing a ton of work on book 2 lately (sorry readers, my lips are sealed!) and I’d love to hear more about what you’ve observed in terms of the differences between working on a first book with no contract versus working on a second book under deadline. 
That's a really good question. One thing I've been really surprised by is how much harder it is to write now than it was before--and I know that's been the case for almost all the debut authors I know now working on their sophomore book. There's a certain luxury in knowing if you write something bad, you can just put it in the drawer and never look at it again. Now, I don't have that option! I remember as a querying author being filled with self-doubt and telling myself that when I finally got to the other side, it would get better. But I think what I know now, and wish I'd known then, is--in the words of Neil Gaiman in the Graveyard Book--you bring yourself with you. Learning how to trust myself as a writer, and put aside the pressures of self-doubt, is something I have to get better at on my own--no accomplishment or career checkpoint will do it for me. 

Putting aside the tour and launch party, how are you planning to celebrate the release of Fireborne
Sleeping! Ha. And taking my husband out to dinner, because I couldn't have done it without him and we celebrate for me enough.

I’m going to ask you an esoteric kind of question right now. (I know we both love philosophy!) What do you think the role of story in society is? I recently read Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story (so good!) and she talked about story being fundamentally necessary for human survival in terms of passing along knowledge, which I thought was so cool. I’d love to hear your thoughts on story and storytelling!
Oooh Danielle I love this! So I'm going to take this one back to Aristotle and my man, Plato--except, in this case, I think Plato was either bonkers or trolling, and Aristotle had it right. Plato said stories are lies, imitations, that are fundamentally harmful because they distract us from reality and truth. But Aristotle, Plato's student, respectfully disagreed. He said, Actually, while history and nonfiction speak about the particular, stories talk about the universal--they talk about the things that are most true. And that's always stuck with me. I'm not sure what the role of that in society is per se--but I think thinking about universals has to be good for us to try to do now and then, right?

What’s your favorite TV show?
Of all time, possibly THE GOOD PLACE. Because, as you mention, I'm a sucker for philosophy! I've also really been enjoying THE BOYS. The writing is quite smart and it does a lot of good trope subverting.

Thanks for all your advice, Rosaria and Danielle. You can find Rosaria at:

Website: rosariamunda.com
Links to Fireborne:

Rosaria has generously offered a hardback of FIREBORNE and Danielle is offering a query critique 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 October 19th. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. and Canada and the query critique giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, October 7th I have an interview with debut author Sharon Mayhew and a giveaway of her MG historical KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Monday, October 14th I have a guest post debut author Jennifer Camiccia and her agent Stacey Glick and giveaway of Jennifer's MG THE MEMORY KEEPER and a query critique by Stacey

Tuesday, October 15th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 21st I have an interview with debut author Katie Zhao and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR

Monday, October 28th, I've got an agent spotlight interview with Jessica Reino and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!


  1. Thank you for your interesting blog, and the opportunity to hear from other writers and agents 🌹

  2. Natalie, I agree with you. A writer must read. Great Interview from both sides of the spectrum~ Agent and client.

  3. Fun interview. The book sounds exciting. Gotta love any book with dragons, right?

    Natalie, I agree wholeheartedly about reading to support other authors.

  4. I read one of my own books the other week and couldn't believe I had been so positive before my family issues arose. Perhaps I should read the other books Ivw written....lol
    Have a great day.

  5. The chosen one is a very common element - nice to hear Rosaria put a fresh spin on it.

  6. Hi Natalie, yes, we should read all kinds of books, both in our genre as well as other books. Reading is like doing homework for writers.

  7. I forgot about how reading supports your fellow writers. Lately, that's been almost 100% of my reading...friends' books.

  8. Well, if a writer doesn't read, they don't know what has been done before. Writing takes a wad-load of time. It may be new to them, but the world may have another opinion; and if the world has seen it before, no one will buy.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  9. And you had me at Dragons! Good to meet you, Rosaria! :)

  10. I think reading is important. I can't imagine not having books in my life.

  11. I can't imagine not reading!
    Congrats to Rosaria - sounds like an amazing read.

  12. Great point - supporting other authors - yet another compelling reason for writers to read!

    And your great interview seques right into why reading is important. How does a non-reader know what readers want? Fireborne sounds like a great read!

  13. I have yet to read any posts where a writer says they don't read. Hunh??? If a writer doesn't read, are they really a writer?

  14. Natalie - I love to read so I can't imagine not reading, plus, as a writing teacher, I think reading is imperative to understanding writing structure. If a student struggles to read (dyslexia, etc), then I recommend audio books - to get the same sense of structure and appreciation for language without the struggle.

    I loved the interview! I agree that stories speak to universal truths!
    I would be interested in a query critique or a book.
    My e-mail is tyreantigger@gmail.com

  15. This was such a fun interview...from both sides! I'm going to skip-out on the giveaway this time around, though.

  16. Reading in your own genre and out of your genre is a must for writers. And by reading other books, you are supporting other authors!

  17. Rivalry, romance & dragons - sounds awesome!!

    I agree - reading is so important. Love your point about supporting fellow authors too! That's one of the best parts of the job!

  18. You're so right - when we read, we're supporting other authors! :)

  19. I can't wait to read Fireborne, it sounds excellent!

    My email is danielle.e.scott03@gmail.com (I also followed you on twitter!)

  20. Great interview! You always have so much fun stuff happening at your blog. :-)_

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  22. While you probably don't want to spend so much time reading that you never do any writing, I can't imagine being a writer without also reading books.

  23. Enjoyed the interview. I like the way the plot of Fireborne is full of tension. Sounds like a real nail biter.

  24. Excellent interview with Rosaria! Fireborne sounds engrossing ;-)

  25. Congrats to Rosaria. Sure sounds like a winner.

    Yeah, not reading is just dumb, but some do sadly.

  26. Fascinating interview. And the book sounds like fun.

  27. Great interview. Look forward to reading the book.

  28. I think reading opens our eyes to the world and also helps us with our own writing. Awesome interview, ladies. Enjoyed it.

  29. I loved the idea of stories reflecting universal truths... I see it in the ‘aha’ moments in the books I read and hope that my writing will do the same for the kids I hope to reach. Looking forward to reading Fireborne...
    It’s also wonderful to see such a good fit between agent and author!

  30. Yes! We should ALL be reading!

    FIREBORNE sounds awesome!

  31. One of the things I love about reading is that I always learn something. And your two guest show this in the intriguing books.

  32. You had me at 'Red Rising' one of my favorites. I'm putting this on my TBR list.

  33. "Fireborne" sounds like a wonderful book. Great mutual interview, Natalie! Reading is not optional for me. I wouldn't want to live without it. I hope that you've had a great IWSG Day!

  34. I love Aristotle's take on stories. It really resonates with you. Also, great, informative, and fun interview! Thank you all for your time!
    (I follow you on Twitter.)

  35. Thinking of your ISWSG post, I think reading is crucial for a writer. It really helps develop the craft by seeing what others have done, whether a good plot, characters, setting or turn of phrase. And I do believe in supporting other writers.

  36. I agree with you! Sounds like an interesting book :-)

  37. Love Danielle Burby’s take on Aristotle vs Plato. Too true about the trolling. 😂 Would love a chance for a query critique. Heathermcappsauthor@gmail.com

  38. I can relate to Danielle's desire to stay on top of emails and work. There are days I feel like I am juggling cats.

  39. Ooooh! Sounds fantastic! Great interview! Congrats and best wishes. I follow on Twitter. I will share on Twitter as well. :)

  40. GOT meets Red Rising sounds like a great combination!

  41. aren't all writers avid readers? i think it's a must.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  42. Congratulations to Rosaria! And great interview. I love that her reward was sleeping! :) Natalie, I totally agree that writers need to read. I wish there was more time to do more of it!

  43. Thank you for the interview. I enjoyed hearing from both sides of the book and that the author rewarded herself with sleep. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/188109837167/rosaria-munda-and-danielle-burby-guest-post-w

  44. This book looks amazing (not entering the giveaway) :)

  45. Sleep is a fantastic reward, and if you're writing about dragons I think it is well-deserved. They are a challenge. :-)

  46. Enjoyed the interviews. Happy IWSG!

  47. As always, a great interview . . .and like you, I think writers need to read.

  48. Another interesting and informative post. Thanks for that. I will pass on the book drawing, but I would love to be in the drawing for the Query critique.

  49. I totally agree that writers should be readers. Seems odd to be a writer and not a reader to me. :)

    What an interesting post. Great to meet Rosaria and Danielle!

  50. The interview was fascinating. Congrats on your debut novel. It sounds very interesting.

    Natalie, I couldn't agree more that writers need to read. Learning by example is my fav way to learn.

  51. How could a writer NOT be a reader? Thank you for the giveaway!

  52. Huge congratulations to Rosario.
    And of course writers need to be readers.

  53. I agree. All writers need to be readers to learn the process of story. Bravo to Rosario. What an intriguing book. All the luck with this new release.

  54. Thanks for the very interesting double interview!

  55. So...you had me hooked on the opening line that described this book!

  56. Thanks for the interesting conversation!

  57. Just added this to my TBR shelf on GoodReads! Really looking forward to checking this out.

    Email: pet16008@byui.edu

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. I'm so excited to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity and contest. My email is my firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

  60. Thank you for the excellent interview. I think the book sounds interesting. I shared on twitter (https://twitter.com/BraniganDebra/status/1181628430351249408?s=20) and email is dbranigan27 at gmail (dot) com.

  61. Great interview - I really enjoyed reading the thoughtful questions and enlightening answers. As if I was watching the interview in person! I can imagine that writing a second book is totally different (with more stress and pressure) than a first one. But, how awesome that it all happened!

    Please, enter me for the query critique. Thank you!

  62. I'm so excited for Fireborne! It was wonderful to hear more about it in the interview. :) The critique sounds like a fantastic opportunity too!

  63. I normally gravitate toward MG, but Fireborne sounds like a winner, with echoes from the Dragonriders of Pern. I know, I'm showing my age with that reference. I'd love to win a copy of the book, or a critique from Danielle.

  64. Ooh, enneagrams and philosophy in one wonderful conversation! Thanks for letting us listen in.

  65. Those were fun interviews. I can tell you two really connect!

  66. Great interview. Congrats to Rosaria and Danielle!

  67. Definitely Team Aristotle... GREAT interview, cheers! :)