What are some upcoming trends for the next year?

2014 was a very strange year in a couple of the major markets I work in, and one of the things that made it so strange was that there wasn’t a breakout trend that got everyone excited about a new direction to explore. We didn’t have our Twilight or Hunger Games or Fifty Shades or new-adult juggernaut that Changed Things, though there were some very big books, to be sure. So we are due in a really big way for something like that. 

I think that we are coming off a long period of contemporary fiction (realistic, angst-y, dark contemporary fiction, marked by tons of emotional intensity) really dominating in commercial genre fiction, like romance and YA. Since publishing and trends are cyclical, it should be time soon for lighter, frothier material to come back. I don't think we are there in YA yet, but perhaps that is what is coming next in romance. We have done a lot of angst in fiction, and maybe it is time for fun. And that new game-changer book that we are due for, the one that is going to be our next cultural phenomenon, is going to come from a direction we don’t expect.

What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?

I have a definite taste for the weird and unexpected. I love a good genre-straddler anytime, and I like historicals that are set in unconventional settings and time periods. I would love to get something in the vein of Chelsea Cain’s Heartsick, which I found wonderfully twisty and unexpected and intimate in all the best ways. I’d love to get a historical mystery series with romance elements, like The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber. I am interested in historical YA, definitely. I love rollicking adventures of all stripes, so something like a YA Indiana Jones would be a delight.

What topic don’t you ever want to see again?

I have to say that paranormal romance was big for a very, very long time, and I sold a ton of it, and...I am still feeling pretty saturated on it. That will eventually change, but right now I am having a hard time warming to anything with a vampire or werewolf or other kind of paranormal “critter” in it. And I don’t think I will ever be the right agent for a book about the Mafia. That said, I always hesitate to say never when it comes to themes and hooks. Some of the best books I ever signed and sold were things that I didn’t know I wanted or thought I might like. I love to be surprised.

What is unique about your corner of the publishing industry?

One of the primary markets I work in is romance, and it is very unique, I think. Romance readers are insanely voracious consumers, and they demand a lot of material faster, faster, faster. They tend to be early adopters when it comes to new technologies, formats, and trends because of that speed of consumption. So a lot of things happen in romance first and then work their way out to other genres and markets, like shifts away from print toward the e-book format. Because the readership demands it, romance is a very high-volume, very fast-paced corner of the publishing landscape.

Anything else you’d like to add?

This is pretty much the coolest job ever. Fiction was so foundationally important to me when I was growing up, and so many books that I read informed who I wanted to be. That is true for a gazillion other young readers, and I love being a part of the team that brings these books into being for them. I don’t think that will ever get old.

Laura Bradford established the San Diego–based Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. She considers herself an editorial-focused agent and takes a hands-on approach to developing proposals and manuscripts with her authors for the most appropriate markets. The agency’s mission is to form true partnerships with its clients and build long-term relationships that extend from writing the first draft through the length of the author’s career. Her recent sales include books placed with Penguin, Grand Central, Harlequin, Kensington, Simon & Schuster, Random House, HarperCollins, Sourcebooks, Hyperion, Flux, Macmillan, Adams Media, Egmont USA, and John Wiley & Sons.