Wishlist

I'm currently closed to queries and will re-open in the fall. Please check twitter for updates: @susanhawk.

I represent books for children and teens only: picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult, along with some non-fiction for children and teens too.  I'm committed to building a diverse list of books and authors, and welcome submissions in this area.

Most importantly, I’m looking for books that make me feel something. Grab me by the heart and don’t let go! Complex, layered, flawed, and lively characters are irresistible to me. I love writing that acknowledges and explores the way humans can hold opposing feelings—sometimes lots of them—all at one time.

Plot is equally important. I want to be drawn deeply into your story, and even if it isn’t an adventure, I want to feel like I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what will happen next.  Humor is key—I like smart, witty humor (not so much gross-out humor). Even if your book isn’t meant to be a knee-slapper, a bit of something funny feels like real life to me. I want writing that’s sharp, focused, thoughtful and inventive. I’m a sucker for bittersweet and soulful. Literary or commercial, high concept or character-driven, I want to be surprised by your book.

I'm omnivorous when it comes to genre and love reading mystery, fantasy, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary — you name it.

To check out some of my favorite non-client books and illustrators please visit my Pinterest page

I do not represent books for adults.

And finally, here are more specific notes, by category:

Young Adult 
  • Some of my favorite non-client YAs: The Spectacular Now, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Fangirl, What I Saw and How I Lied, The Seeds of America trilogy, The Montmaray Journals series, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Grasshopper Jungle.
  • Family stories, sister and sibling stories, and mother-daughter stories. In many YA novels, the main character’s relationship with their mother is troubled, and the mother is toxic in some way.  I’d love to see a book with a strong—albeit complex—mother-daughter (or son) relationship.
  • Fantasy. I want original, rich world-building and gutsy, smart characters to fall in love with, along with high stakes and sneaky twists.  I love historical fantasy and want projects based on non-Western European traditions and folklore.
  • Science fiction, especially that deals with changes we might see in our lifetime—more cutting edge science, less space opera (though I’m open to a juicy space opera too).
  • Speculative elements embedded in a contemporary, grounded setting, like Every Day by David Leviathan or Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
  • A sharp, irresistible, crush-worthy but unreliable narrator.
  • A word about romance. I enjoy a good, swoony romance, but probably not by itself. Romance as a part of a larger story? Yes, please!
  • Projects that are unabashedly feminist in nature.
  • Contemporary stories about the families we're born with and the families we find.
  • Stories set in small communities with their own, peculiar culture. Think boarding school, or perhaps a cult.
  • Historical fiction set in the second half of the 20th C.  I love historical fiction, and want projects that feel vital and alive, that balance history against characters who are accessible, yet believably of the past. I'm drawn to WWI and II, the Cold War period, the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc. I'd love a novel that has to do with the CIA's covert operations in the 1960s.
  • Literary projects, with a lot of heart. 
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.

Middle Grade
  • Some favorite non-client MGs: The War that Saved My Life, Wolf Hollow, El Deafo, When You Reach Me, One Crazy Summer, Cuckoo Song, The Riverman, Breadcrumbs, The Wednesday Wars.
  • Projects in any genre with exceptional, immersive and cinematic world-building.
  • Mystery! I’d love to see something that makes me think of Agatha Christie, but set in the US.
  • Edgy, dark MG that pushes the boundaries of “upper MG.”
  • I'm always interested in books with LGBT protagonist or characters (for YA too).
  • Contemporary stories with a female main character who is passionate about science, math, engineering, ie. STEM. (For YA too!)
  • Contemporary with a magical/fantastical element and a lot of heart.
  • Fantasy, especially a story, or world, that’s based on American folklore—think Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, John Henry, Sally Ann Thunder, etc.
  • Heavily illustrated projects, or a Graphic Novel hybrid (for YA too).
  • I'd love a caper novel, esp if it has a historical element. Maybe a la Ocean's Eleven?
  • Epistolary novels; a novel-within-a-novel; a journal format; secret letters; found documents— I’m interested in stories that use these kinds of elements or play with the structure of a novel. (for YA too).

Picture Books
  • Some favorite non-client picture books: The Dark, Sophie’s Squash, The Princess and the Pony, A Home for Bird, This is Not a Picture Book!, Me…Jane, Flora and the Flamingo, Home by Carson Ellis, Boss Baby, Leo: A Ghost Story.
  • In general, I'm looking for succinct but expressive texts, and indelible characters. 
  • My current focus is on growing my list of author-illustrators. I'm a big fan of Molly Idle, Sophie Blackall, Zachariah OHora, Frann Preston-Grann, Emily Hughes, Marla Frazee, Christian Robinson, and Sergio Ruzzier.  If your work is as fresh, original and full of emotion as these, please be in touch! 
  • I like conceptual texts like Duck, Rabbit or Not a Box.
  • Texts that just *get it* when it comes to childhood, like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse; or More, More, More Said the Baby.
  • Character-driven stories that introduce me to someone as indelible as Olivia, George and Martha, the Pigeon, or Miss Nelson.
  • The pairing of informational text with lyrical voice, such as in Over and Under the Snow.

Chapter Books
I'm looking for diverse projects, particularly ones with POC main characters.  I'm absolutely wild about Dory Fantasmagory, and if you've got something with that kind of over the top, silly-smart humor, energy, and closely observed characters, I want to see it!

Non-fiction
The non-fiction I'm drawn to relates to kid’s daily lives and their concerns with the world.

A few random facts:
  • As a former children's librarian, I'm always open to books in any category about libraries and librarians, the more fierce, the better!
  • I'm fascinated by selkies (but not mermaids).
  • I love musical theater and opera.
  • I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for a year during college.
  • I'm a sucker for personality tests and the like.
  • Speaking of which, I'm ENFJ.
  • One of my hobbies is weaving.
  • I'm obsessed with fabrics and wallpaper because I love patterns and design.
  • I've never visited a museum I don't like, but my absolute favorites are the Prado in Madrid, and the Shelburne in Vermont.
  • Many years ago, I considered becoming a Garden Designer. Obviously didn't, but still love gardens.
  • Favorite movies: American Hustle, Moonrise Kingdom, Spirited Away, Sense and Sensibility, Lost in Translation, Crooklyn, Blade Runner, Tootsie, Auntie Mame, Singing in the Rain, Some Like it Hot.
  • Favorite TV: Stranger Things, Broad City, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Battlestar Galactica, Parks and Recreation, Firefly, The Staircase, Moonlighting, the Carol Burnett Show, The Avengers.
  • Last, but not least, I love lists!