Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Mysterious Guest and The Introduction of BBCHAT

I am thrilled to introduce my new series of interviews - the BBCHAT - Bigblackcat's Humane Agent Talk: In Which A Particularly Agreeable Agent Answers a Series of Questions that Have Nothing to do with Queries or Submission Guidelines.  Yeah, don't try to make an acronym out of that last bit.

The BBCHAT is designed to get the personality of the agent in the spotlight, and an enterprising querier can use this information to figure out if the agent is a good fit for them, rather than just another agent who happens to cover their genre.

The last question involves something that oddly resembles a contest, and ties in with the blog name.  Note the rules: to participate you need to follow the blog (so include your screenname in the email so that I can identify you), and your answer must come in an email to me, not a post in the comments section.  First person to email me with the correct answer wins.  You'll notice the "email me" link above my followers box to the right.  Or maybe you won't notice it.  In which case, you'll be totally flummoxed.

Today's guest is an agent who maintains a particularly successful blog over at Getting Past the Gatekeeper. Part of the Gatekeeper's allure is her anonymity, so I won't be identifying her in this post other than as GK.

The BBCHAT with Agency Gatekeeper:
BBC: What are you reading right now and why do you like it?
GK: I’m on a nonfiction kick right now: I’ve just read Cinderella Ate My Daughter (hilarious, worrisome, and very, very smart) and Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage and Dirty Dishes (though I’m terrible with the dishes, and have literally hidden 2/3 of mine or I’ll just keep using them until they all pile up). I’m about halfway through American Bloomsbury, which has me looking up travel fare to Concord, MA, it’s so good. And I just started Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children In An Age of Environmental Crisis. I like it very much so far.
I like all of these works because they have excellent narrative components—the narrators of the aforementioned works are witty, pleasant, likable. They present readily available information in innovative ways: if my high school history classes had, like American Bloomsbury, presented Thoreau, Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Margaret Fuller through their love triangles—I would have paid a lot more attention!

BBC: Paper or plastic? (a book or an e-reader?)
GK: Paper all the way. But I do use plastic for manuscripts. It’s much better than lugging around a suitcase of them. My bag is heavy enough already.

BBC: What's on your bucket list?
GK: Goodness. Many things. I seem to think I’ll live forever. But my “next ten years” bucket list includes taking a boat trip down the Amazon, getting over my (considerable) fear of sharks and getting into SCUBA diving, living in Manhattan once (it may kill me with its intensity, but I’m curious), getting involved in the theatre again, working with an environmental and/or women’s health organization, and becoming someone’s favorite aunt. I have a seven-year-old niece who is very much like me. I’m hopeful.

BBC: Have you ever ridden a mechanical bull?
GK: I have not. I’m not generally good at things that require balance, strength, or athletic ability. I’d be willing to try, though. (Does that require a helmet? Perhaps one in the shape of a cowboy hat? That sounds like a good idea.) At a recent conference, I was offered a trip to a honky-tonk bar with a mechanical bull. I was totally up for it—until I nearly fell asleep (from too much travel, not boredom!) at the 7pm cocktail party just before.

BBC: What type of agent are you?
 a) Cheerleader
 b) Therapist
 c) Bushwhacking Guide
 d) Red Ink Saturation Committee Member
GK: Wow. I’d say A and B, mostly. If by D you mean I go through gallons of red ink with editing, that too. I’m happy to. I love watching a work take shape. And I’d say C, but I don’t think of Publishing as hostile territory.

BBC: If you had a guaranteed sell, what type of story would you like to represent?
GK: Right now, I’m really interested in historical fiction with strong female protagonists. I’ve noticed that I tend to fall in love with works about young characters who bravely change the world around them. But if I could have one magical “take it on and know it will sell” project—I’d love an Aimee Bender-style project. I simply love work like that, but it’s difficult to place.

BBC:  Do you write?  How good are you? ; )
GK: Yes, I write. As you can imagine, though, my internal editor gets quite the workout during the day. I think very few people can judge their own work objectively. So, I will say that I write well enough for my writing group to not throw me out (though they may keep me because of the snacks I make). And I’ve been known to bribe people with lattes as a trade for reading my stories. That works well, too.

BBC: Tell me three things about yourself, one of them being a LIE! First person to email me with the correct guess as to the lie gets... something awesome.
GK: 1) I’ve flown a plane. My dad used to fly small planes as a hobby. One day, he let me take the controls. Scary stuff. Probably ill-advised. But we lived, obviously.
2) I have a small but growing collection of plush sweet things (see here).  They’re totally useless, but I like to squish them.
3) There are a lot of weeks where I eat like a nine-year-old with one of those moms who say things like, “Of COURSE fruit snacks are good for you! The box says ‘fruit,’ doesn’t it?” There’s a box of spiral macaroni and cheese in my cabinet at all times.


MarcyKate said...

BBC, your questions are FABU. You had me at mechanical bull!

This is really cool idea - definitely different from your average agent interview. Gives a nice little snapshot of personality instead of the usual "what are you looking for? etc" questions. And GK's answers were great!

Becky Wallace said...

Great post, BBC!! I follow GK's blog and am glad I popped over here. See you on QT!

Stephsco said...

I'm now intrigued by the Spousonomics book... why is it always dishes and chores that becomes an issue.

Karen @ Scobberlotch said...

Very original and fun blog Q&A! Glad I stumbled upon your blog, too.

Leonora said...

I heart The Gatekeeper!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Thanks ladies! I heart GK too - her blog is an inspiration that has er... inspired mine. Clearly I need to invest in a thesaurus.

Becky - oh yeah, you can pretty much find me wallowing around AQ or QT at any given moment :)

There are more BBCHAT's lined up, ladies. So if you want to know which agents have ridden mechanical bulls, stay tuned!

Jen Daiker said...

GK rocks my socks off!!!! This was such an amazing interview, I simply couldn't get enough!

Uh is she my long lost twin?

Her fear of sharks had me at hello, until she said she was planning getting over the fear. I think in this water rink I'll leave it to her to fight the battle with the sharks and I'll watch from the sidelines.

I also now officially heart her for the long haul. A cupcake plush?! Are you joking... that is THE coolest thing ever! She's clearly read my diary to know I have the same plush obssession only difference is it's a Chipotle Burrito a pirate and #1 kitty. Pictures aren't necessary I think you can already see the awesome here.

Agency Gatekeeper said...

Thanks everyone! And thank you, Mindy, for the awesome questions!

Stephsco, Spousonomics has a great explanation--I won't even try to paraphrase. It's a fun read. But boy, does it also do a good job of making marriage look like a LOT of work! Don't read it when you're already tired.

Leonora, I heart you too!

And Jen, it's not like I'm planning to go to shark-infested waters! Every time I see people do that (even if in cages, and even on shows--I'm thinking of a certain romantic reality television show--where we know everything will be idealized and therefore safe and fine) it totally freaks me out! No no no. Even if I'm in a pool, I'll worry about sharks. I'll question the SCUBA instructor, too, about how many sharks travel around that area, etc. I went once and saw a tiny shark. SUPER scary. The instructor totally laughed at me. Not funny.

And you have a plush burrito?! SO CUTE.

Michelle said...

Awesome interview BBC! Your questions are really original. I used to make plush sushi for school fundraisers! What is it with plush food and being adorable?

I laughed at the 'OF COURSE FRUIT SNACKS THAT SAY FRUIT ARE GOOD FOR YOU'. That was my reasoning as a 4 year old that I could eat all the fruit roll ups I wanted. ;)

GK's blog has so much character, and it's one of the reasons reading it is so much fun. This interview captures that same character. Thanks BBC!

Jen Daiker said...

Agency Gatekeeper - Not only do you lurk but you respond? What is this awesomeness?

Between you and Mindy I don't know who I'm having more fun chatting with! I heart making new friends.

I'm glad we're on the same page with these shark infested waters. My husband knows my fear of sharks (even the animated version... Shark Tales anyone) and he thought it was okay to mention there were fresh water sharks.

I'm blonde, have silly moments, and married to man who didn't think it was wrong to share the horror! So, like you, pools, rivers, lakes, and oceans terrify me. I know I can out-run a shark but there isn't a shot in hell I'll out-swim a shark.

I'll leave the cages for the idiots. Romantic reality show... I watch a ton of addicting trash but unless you speak of The Bachelor I'm not familiar with the said show. Then again that would be something The Bachelor would consider since know its Fear Factor/Bachelor.

I is done writing a novel now. Jen over and out.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Oh God - OK I swear I was trying to keep my lips shut on this one, but in light of Jen's comment... I just can't anymore. Just YESTERDAY ladies, I drew a little reference line between sharks and uh... something else. So unfortunately I'm mentally substituting the word "penis" everytime you guys say "shark" and Uh... Oh man. Well, you try it!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Michelle- thanks so much for dropping by! There's more BBCHAT's upcoming, so stick around.

Hopefully less, uh... sharks ; )

*can't stop giggling*

Michelle said...


This conversation offically just got awkwardly fantastic.

"So let's go shark hunting!"

Bethany C. said...

Love this interview almost as much as I love the Gatekeeper. Yes, she has rejected me twice (crushing my dreams and leaving me for dead on by the road) but still very sweet and personable.

Mindy McGinnis said...

It's OK Bethany, you're in good company ; )