A Cafe Chat With Literary Agent Susan Hawk by Lindsay Bandy

IDA Design

IDA Design


Good morning, friends! Today, we have the pleasure of getting to know Susan Hawk, literary agent with the Bent Agency. She’ll be at Fall Philly and Pitch Shop, and hey….TODAY is the deadline for manuscript critiques!! So, hurry up and get yours in before it’s too late! You might even want to put Susan on your list for a critique….I know I did! Click here to sign up if you haven’t already. Here comes Susan!

Lindsay: Hi there, Susan, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! We’re so glad you stopped by to chat with us. As we settle into our cozy booth, what are you drinking?

Susan: A cup of black tea with milk, no sugar.  I pretty much have a mug of tea attached to my hand every day, until noon.

Lindsay: Are you munching on anything?

Susan: No.  But I’m eyeing some yummy mac&cheese for lunch.

Lindsay: We take to-go orders! Or, you can just hang around til lunchtime. We won’t mind!

So, I know that your favorite books “live at the intersection of literary and commercial.” Could you name a few titles with this address in the middle grade and/or YA bracket?

Susan: I’m going to mention a client’s novel at the top of this list, THE GRAHAM CRACKER PLOT by Shelley Tougas, as it hit bookstores about two weeks ago.  Beautiful, funny, heartbreaking book, strong characters, fast-paced plot.  Check it out!

graham cracker

In addition, the following non-client work are some of my favorite books:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Every Day by David Levithan

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

The Knife of Never Letting Go / Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

Lindsay: So, book-lover to book-lover, tell me, what was the last book you read that made you….

Laugh out loud?


Stay up past bedtime?

Wish you had written it yourself?

Susan: The answer to all of this is A BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTMARAY by Michele Cooper.  I’ve been raving about this book to anyone who will listen!  If you’re a fan of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE (as I am), you’ll fall in love with Montmaray.  Truly delicious book, set on the dawn on WWII, about the impoverished family of a mad king, who live on an almost abandoned island off the coast of Spain.  The voice is gorgeous, and the story kind of sneaks up on you, in the best way.

Lindsay: I read A Brief History of Montmaray last summer! The narrative voice was really spectacular.

Do you have a favorite book on the craft of writing that you think every writer should read?

Susan: I’ve recommended that clients look at Martha Alderson’s Plot Whisperer, and have also suggested Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz.

Lindsay: Your ideal client would always: be thinking about the next project.

And never: forget her sense of humor.

Lindsay: Finish this sentence: I would jump up from my desk and do a cartwheel if I came across a book that combined….

Susan: A voice that feels totally new, characters that are real, and pacing so tight I can’t put it down.

Lindsay: What is one turn-off that always makes you put a manuscript down?

Susan: A book that opens with a character waking up.

Lindsay: What do you wish people would do more of BEFORE submitting to you?

Susan: Researching the kinds of books that I’m interested in.

Lindsay: Do you prefer stories set in the past, present, or future?

Susan: Can’t pick — I like all of this!

Lindsay: Congratulations! You win a Throw Back Thursday photo contest for best 80’s hair! Your prize is $100 to spend in any frivolous, FUN way you want. How do you spend it? 

Susan: New shoes.  Always a sucker for shoes!

Lindsay: And now, for rapid-fire favorites! Name your favorite….

Book as a child: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson.  Boy, did this book speak to me a kid! Best of all, reading it now I still get something new from it.

Candy: Lemonheads

Shade of nail polish: can’t pick one, currently wearing blood red on my toes, but that’s going to change this afternoon!

Book-turned-movie: Sense and Sensibility, the version with Emma Thompson. I heart Emma Thompson.

Candle scent: No scented candles please.

Food to splurge on: PIE. Cherry might be a favorite flavor.

Animal: the dolphin!  So smart, so beautiful!

Lindsay: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Susan! We’re looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks at Fall Philly and Pitch Shop!

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