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?
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.