I grew up in Massachusetts, between Boston and the Cape, and started working in New York City as a playwright during college. This pushed me towards English as a focus, and after a lot of country-hopping in my early twenties, I wound up finally beginning my publishing career in editorial, specifically at Random House in the UK. That’s also where I became a YA and Children’s Literary Scout, which finally landed me back in NYC, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding what the next big book will be. Now as an Agent, I’m thrilled to turn my focus on growing authors for that same success.
Currently I’m looking for YA fiction across-the-board, though my heart does sway towards issue-related YA with humor and heart – not depressing, or mopey. I also love love love hard, punchy, contemporary YA that’s got no hesitations when it comes to crazy. I’m also always up for seeing contemporary stories with Sci-Fi or Fantasy elements, as well as a clever respin of an old or classic tale. And then, lastly, really good horror and ghost stories… not gory-for-gory’s sake or overly disgusting, but cringing, dark, bloody twisted, and even lovely. That said, the one thing I love above all else in a YA novel, regardless of sub-genre, is a strong and specific character voice. A real person, not another “everygirl.”
As for the Middle-Grade I’m looking for, I want it stark, honest, and even dark; either contemporary or period, as long as it’s accessible. Coming-of-age stories, dealing-with-difficulty stories, witness stories (adult issues seen through the child’s p.o.v kinda thing), anything that makes you want to hold the narrator’s hand… for your own comfort, as well as their’s. I am also ok with these stories having slight magical or fantasy elements as well – as long as they’re subtle.
On the non-fiction side, I’m looking for strong teen memoirs about overcoming crushing situations.
Holly West grew up in Southern Kentucky as “that girl who reads a lot” but soon escaped to NYC where she was lucky enough to land her dream job of working in publishing. She started out in the publicity department of St. Martin’s Press, but then decided that children’s books would be much more fun. She now works directly under Jean Feiwel as an Associate Editor at Feiwel and Friends where she works on everything from picture books to YA with authors like Emmy Laybourne, Meg Cabot, Kelly McCullough, Mo O’Hara and Jessica Shyba. She is also the editor for Macmillan’s crowd-sourced YA Romance imprint Swoon Reads, where she works with authors Sandy Hall, Jenny Elliott, Katie Van Ark, Temple West, Kim Karalius, and Karole Cozzo, among others.
Michelle is the Contract Administrator and an editor at Gibbs Smith, Publisher in Layton, Utah. She has been at her job, wearing dual hats, since 2006. Prior to then, she had various and sundry jobs such as working for the Associated Press, teaching world civilizations to college freshman, and being a mom and wife to a military family.
She has a BA in history with minors in English and dance from Southern Methodist University and a MA in Russian History from the University of Hawaii. Michelle is a Texas native who was transplanted to Utah by the U.S. Navy in 2003, after seventeen years of moving between California and Hawaii with her husband’s military career. Besides her husband, she has three daughters, three dogs, and a bird. She is also the author of Texas Doodles.