What are some trends you noticed in science fiction and elsewhere in 2014?
I think science fiction—and most other fiction—has broadened its horizons in the last year or so, in the best way. LGBT characters are becoming more prevalent—less a major plot point and more just a character trait. The same goes for minority characters. We’re starting to see more and more people of all ethnicities, which is vital to great storytelling. The best fiction is based on reality.
Zombies were big in science fiction this year. To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo comes to mind. Mysteries seemed to be on the rise, too.
What are you anticipating for 2015?
I think mysteries and thrillers are only going to grow more popular this year. If you scout the New York Times bestseller list every week, you will see a large number of mystery/crime novels. Stephen King is always there. Gillian Flynn has been dominating with Gone Girl. This trend is reaching into science fiction and fantasy more and more. Half the deals I read about—and a quarter of the queries I see—involve mysteries in a fantastical world or outer space. Sports romance will also be big this year.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’d like to see more realistic fantasy. Not just magic and dragons but real scientific laws in an otherworld. There’s a heavy reliance on “a wizard did it,” but our history is rich with philosophy and intellectual revolutions. I’d love to find something with magic weaved together by a sense of theoretical science. I’m also looking for more diverse books that are not trying to be diverse. The fact that a protagonist is of color should not make him or her unique. If that’s all he or she brings to the table, I’m not interested. I recently signed a client whose protagonist is gay, and it’s an afterthought. Sure, it causes problems, but the main focus is on his motivations as a person, not a “gay person.”
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Dystopians. People see The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner and think those are the trends. They forget those books were written years ago when dystopians were the new thing. Worse, many follow the same trope of upper-class versus lower-class. Conflict ensues followed by rebellion. Is a ruined world really that easy to fix?
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
The infinite possibilities. Fantasy and science fiction can go as far into the bizarre as one’s mind can take them. I’ll never stop being amazed at some of the books coming out or queries I receive. It’s incredible to see what fascinating worlds people conjure out of thin air. For example, many ideas or objects written as purely science fiction have come to fruition. They’ve done research into invisibility cloaks that bend light around a person. Another great example is Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Now, submarines are commonplace in the armed forces.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to leave with a quote by William Faulkner that is some of the best advice to keep one’s sanity in pursuing a career as a writer: “The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.”
As a lover of literature since childhood, Lane Heymont now works as a literary agent with the Canton, New York–based Seymour Agency to bring well-written books to the masses. As a literary assistant for the past two years at the agency, he led the marketing efforts for their authors and enjoyed connecting clients with readers.