3rd Feb, 2010

Wild Card Wednesday – an interview with Agent Michael Bourret

Michael Bourret I’m very excited about this interview because as you all know, I love my agent. I mean, just from his pic, you can tell he’s a nice guy, right? So far, I’ve mostly just talked ABOUT him, but now he’s here to speak for himself. Feel free to say nice things about him in the comments section. With me (and all his other clients who adore him) he’s used to hearing good stuff about himself, but a little more won’t hurt!
Michael Bourret joined Dystel & Goderich Literary Management as an intern while studying film and television production at New York University, and began at the agency full-time in 2000. After ten years as an agent in the New York office, Michael now works in Los Angeles in the West Coast office of DGLM.  There, he continues to represent his own list of bestselling and award-winning clients while also aggressively pursuing new film and television opportunities.

  1. What were your favorite books when you were a teen?

I didn’t actually read YA as a teen, so I’ll mention a few younger books I loved: Bunnicula, The Cricket in Times Square, The Castle in the Attic, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Freaky Friday.

  1. Do you have any pet peeves in query letters that make you quit reading?

I have many, many pet peeves!  I hate when my name is spelled wrong, I hate typos in the first sentence, I hate being queried by writers who haven’t done their research.  But in the end, none of that really matters if the query is compelling.  As I’ve mentioned on our blog, the details aren’t the most important thing, the idea, the narrative, the storytelling – that’s what hooks me.

  1. What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in high school?

High school was the most embarrassing thing to happen to me!  More seriously, one time I leaned against a container in the dark room and unknowingly got the entire back of my (rather baggy) pants wet.  I looked like I had a very serious bladder problem the rest of the day.

  1. What are you reading now?

Client manuscripts!  It’s a busy month.  But I intend to finish The Lost City of Z by David Grann, Jumping off Swings by Jo Knowles (whose Lessons from a Dead Girl I adored, and then I need to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

  1. If you could live anywhere for a year, where would it be? And what kind of a place would you live in?

Northern Italy.  I love big cities, but I’d really love to live in a tiny Italian town, in a small cottage.  I’d want to garden and cook and read and live quietly.  Honestly, I’d probably go nuts after a couple of weeks, but it sounds lovely in my head!

  1. What was the first book you sold? Tell us what it felt like to make that sale.

I won’t share what the book was, but I will say that it was very practical nonfiction.  Selling it felt fantastic, and it was only my second submission!  I really thought I’d figured it all out.  What strikes me now is that there is no way I could sell the book in this market.  None.  Our business changes all the time, and I think that’s what I love so much about it!

A while ago, I asked readers to leave questions for Michael and he would choose a couple to answer. The following are two of the submitted ones.

1)      What was it about Restoring Harmony that made you request a full?

It was a great concept: a little post-apocalyptic, but set in a near-future which was entirely believable – and very scary!  It was the kind of book that could have been so many different things, and I was so pleased that there was great narrative to go along with the high-concept idea.

2)      What happens in client Lisa McMann’s upcoming book, GONE?

I’m sorry I can’t share the answer to this one, as you’ll just have to read it!  But I will say that I think the series ends in a way that will be surprising, fulfilling and just perfect.  Not long until you can find out!

Thanks for stopping by, Michael! And if you get tired of that house in Italy before your year is up, just let me know. It sounds like a great place for me to spend some time writing another book!

Responses

Great interview Michael and Joelle! Always interesting to hear from agents!

I loved BUNNICULA when I was little and the sequel THE CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT, which must be the best title ever, after RESTORING HARMONY, of course 🙂

Good interview! What made me laugh the most? I immediately went to Powell’s website and searched RESTORING HARMONY. I’m thinking, “How have I not heard about this book?!?”

Yeah. It was early in the morning.

But, I’m looking forward to May!

Great interview, Joelle, and it’s such fun to get a peek into the life of your fabulous agent. High school was so many people’s worst nightmare that it’s rather incredible that YA authors (and agents!) can stand to revisit those years with their novels. There is the therapeutic effect, I suppose… anyway, thanks for sharing your darkroom mishap, Michael, because it gave me a good laugh! And keep dreaming of Italy…what a great choice.

Awesome interview with your agent! I love hearing about agents. =)

This is a great interview, Joelle. Those lovely MG books Michael mentioned were also some of my favorites. Hurray for Bunnicula!

As for the cottage in Italy…sounds wonderful!

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