What are some trends you’ve noticed throughout 2014?
It’s been hard, I’d say in the last two years, to spot clear trends. I’m knocking on wood here, but I would say that it’s easier for the misfit books to do well. In young adult, for example, books like Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, which is zany and hard-core and meaningful. Another one is The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, one of my agency’s titles, which has this incredible humor paired with off-the-wall elements such as a reality TV show, a study on Ezra Pound and a gerbil named Baconnaise.
I’ve read some exceptionally told stories for readers ages 8 to 12: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, obviously, but also the forthcoming Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen. They’re boundary-pushing in more ways than one, especially in terms of language.
What are you anticipating for 2015?
I can’t really say. This year, most of our sales have been for high-concept contemporary novels with varying degrees of humor—My Seventh Grade Life in Tights to Delacorte/Penguin Random House, a funny middle grade book about a dancer and his crew; Thieving Weasels to Dial/Penguin Random House, about a Princeton-bound 17-year-old’s nefarious family—and I would love to see that continued.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
After everything I’ve said about humor, it’s funny to think that books of my heart tend to be more boundary-pushing and dark. I would love to find projects that speak truthfully and without any punches about very real issues. Every project I’ve signed up in my career thus far has had some sort of personal resonance with me. I want multilayered projects, a story that has more than one powerful thing to say.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I hate seeing teen protagonists paralyzed by their lack of romance. I think the authors writing these protagonists have the idea that because this is a universal feeling, it will resonate with teens in a huge way. But the truth is that it’s too universal, and it’s impossible to connect or sympathize with a protagonist on only this basis.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
What’s unique about my corner is that I don’t have one. I’m the person running around and hitting all the bases, because TriadaUS represents such a wide range of books, from nonfiction and memoir to chapter books and YA.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that all I hope for is to continue finding stories that change me as a reader and person, then excite me as an agent.
Brent Taylor held numerous entry-level positions in publishing before joining TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. He can be found on Twitter @NaughtyBrent, at www.triadaus.com or http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/brenttaylor/.