Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interview with an Agent: Catherine Drayton

Today’s interview features Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management. Prepare to be impressed by Ms. Drayton’s client list:) Happy reading!

KV: How did you get into agenting?

CD: I’m a trial lawyer by profession and worked in the areas of libel and copyright. When I moved to the United States I decided to take the opportunity to follow my passion for books. My first job was with a scout for foreign publishing houses and then I was lucky enough to be offered as job as an assistant to Richard Pine who taught me the business of agenting. I’ve been an agent at Pine Associates, which is now part of InkWell, since 1998.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy?

CD: I believe in quality not quantity! I’ve been very fortunate to represent some extraordinary writers such as Markus Zusak, John Flanagan, Beth Hoffman, Malla Nunn and Becca Fitzpatrick, so I think very carefully before I sign a new client.

KV: What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

CD: Honesty, professionalism and a sense of humor! I try to keep my list small so each client feels as if they are my top priority.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

CD: CLEO by Helen Gentry is an extraordinary memoir about the resilience of a mother and the healing power of a tiny kitten which has already been a bestseller in the UK, Australia and France.

In the more literary YA genre two novels: LEVERAGE by Joshua Cohen, an utterly gripping story about high school football and bullying (very few writers can really capture the voice of older teenage boys) and JASPER JONES by Craig Silvey which is an antipodean version of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

I’m quite drawn to humor in middle-grade novels so am excited to see how JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW by Nathan Bransford and ALICE-MIRANDA AT SCHOOL by Jacquie Harvey fair.

KV: What genres do you represent?

CD: Women’s fiction, literary fiction, crime, world literature, young adult, middle-grade and picture books.

KV: What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

CD: I don’t represent much non-fiction (except memoirs), thrillers or science fiction.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

CD: A well written query letter is wonderfully persuasive!

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?

CD: A vivid imagination and an original and compelling voice.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

CD: By e-mail.

Thanks again, Ms. Drayton, for these responses. And to all you picture book writers, I apologize for neglecting the follow-up question--I didn’t realize until just now that I’d forgotten to ask whether she was interested in picture book writers who aren’t illustrators (although the general consensus among the other agents has been a resounding, “Yes!”). I’ll do better next time.

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by!

P.S. I had to look up antipodean, too, so I'll save you the trouble:) It means "on the other side of the world."


Unknown said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing! :)

Dawn Simon said...

Super impressive client list--I agree! Thank you, Krista and Ms. Drayton, for the great interview.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

You're welcome, Amanda!

Dawn, thanks for backing me up:)

Bryan Russell said...


I really have to find time to go through your archive one of these days. Anyone have some sort of time-stretching machine?

Myrna Foster said...

I'm excited to read JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, and I loved THE BOOK THIEF. Thanks for interviewing Ms. Drayton, Krista!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great interview! I'm looking forward to read LIAR SOCIETY (LiLa Roecker). :D

Erin Edwards said...

Thanks for the interview!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Ink, thanks for stopping by.

Myrna, my thoughts exactly:)

Stina, I didn't realize the Roecker gals were repped by Ms. Drayton, too. Another plus!

Erin, you are very welcome.

Myrna Foster said...

I gave you an award, Krista, if you want it.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks, as always, Myrna.

Janet Johnson said...

Great interview!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Janet, thanks!

MBW aka Olleymae said...

These interviews are always so awesome and helpful. Thanks Krista!!!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Olleymae, you're welcome.

Theresa Milstein said...

Becca Fitzpatrick is big name floating in the YA world these days. Impressive client list and good interview. Thanks!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I agree, Theresa, although I'm a little behind - I just checked out HUSH, HUSH from the library.

And you're very welcome:)

Penelope Wright said...

Dear Krista, I just wanted to thank you for your blog, it's a wonderful resource for aspiring authors. (My goodness, I almost wrote expiring authors, which wouldn't be right at all.) I have found many wonderful agents to query here, and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate it.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thank you so much, Penelope. Your comment just made my day.

Ninja Girl said...

I can't believe I hadn't signed up to follow your blog already o_o
I thought I'd done that some time ago b/c I always--ALWAYS--come here before querying an agent. You have one of the best blogs for agent info, and I appreciate all your hard work :)
Ninja Girl
P.S. And I love the title for your book! Great job here

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Ninja Girl, welcome (or maybe welcome back)! And thank you for the lovely comment.