A Café Chat With Literary Agent Stephen Fraser
Lindsay: Hi there, Steve, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Café! We’re so happy to have you here to chat today. As we settle into our booth, what are you drinking?
Steve: Well, my current obsession is iced chai. How’s that?
Lindsay: Sounds good to me. I think I’ll try one, myself. What’s that you’re snacking on?
Steve: A madeleine, of course.
Lindsay: Now, tell us, what is one book that has changed your life in some important way?
Steve: Well, two books really shaped my artistic sense: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan, a truly perfect middle grade novel which has Hemingway-like spareness and Vermeer-like clarity and the young adult novel Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block which made me see the power and possibilities of prose-writing for teens. Both truly unique voices are peerless.
Lindsay: If you could go back in time to meet any author or illustrator, who would it be?
Steve: Hans Christian Andersen. I imagine him to be very shy, creative, playful, and completely delightful. Of course, he was an original mythmaker. I adore his stories like “The Nightingale” and “The Snow Queen.” I imagine that he would require a cup of tea and a comfortable pillow to sit on. And a good listener.
Lindsay: I love the way you’ve imagined him! He would certainly tell us a good story. Keep that imagination turned on, because you are about to become the first literary agent on the moon! You’re packing your space bag for the long journey, but you don’t have a lot of room, what with your spacesuit and all. So what one book do you bring along to pass the time? What one non-literary item do you pack?
Steve: Probably a book of poetry, maybe The Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This isn’t written for children, but it does contain a poem called “The Man and the Child” which says, “It is the child in us which loves.” And a chocolate (dark) bar.
Lindsay: Poetry! Chocolate! Perfection!
What one picture book would you give to a special kid in your life? Why?
Steve: Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger has all the magic of story-telling in it, as well as the luminescent artwork. This book is like a benediction.
Lindsay: Truly a gorgeous, magical bedtime book.
What one thing do you wish people would do more of BEFORE they submit to you?
Steve: Make sure that they know the kinds of books that I like. The biggest mistake is sending the wrong book to the wrong agent
Lindsay: Do you have any parting words of advice for writers and illustrators?
Steve: Composing words in a story or any kind of book is a responsibility, as a kind of gatekeeper of Literature. Don’t take that lightly. Writing should be both worthy of you and worthy of your reader.
Lindsay: Beautiful advice to take to heart. Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, Steve. We’ve had a lovely time, and we’re looking forward to meeting and learning from you on August 17!
Now it’s your turn, EPA Community, to say hi to Steve! Let him know you’re coming to the workshop, or just compliment his taste in books and snacks. And, don’t forget to visit him at the Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency’s web site, http://www.jdlit.com/submitpages/stephensubmit.html to find out more.