What are some trends you noticed thus far in 2015?
I’ve noticed that essay collections have been very popular in the past year or so. I think with the critical and commercial successes books like The Empathy Exams, On Immunity, and Bad Feminist have seen, publishers are more open to publishing collections where maybe they weren’t before. I’ve also been noticing a lot of really intriguing debut novels being published this summer. It’s really encouraging and exciting to see debuts getting more attention, both in traditional review spaces and on social media.
Representing historical fiction about feminists is one of your “dream projects.” Have you seen any manuscripts or titles trending in that direction? Can you explain what exactly you would like to see?
I think some writers might see that description as applying generally to any novel with a strong female protagonist. While that’s partially true, what I’m really looking for is a novel about feminism in the way that The Flamethrowers was about anarchy, art theory, and criticism. I’d love to see a more overt political element to the fiction, whether it’s the setting (like during the bra-burning days or within a feminist collective) or as an important part of the protagonist’s makeup.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I would like to work with more nonfiction writers and would absolutely love to read a proposal about hip-hop in America, some emerging food trend, or something related to New York City. Or a true-crime book! Journalist Allison Yarrow, my client, has a book coming out with Harper Perennial in the fall of 2016 called 90’s Bitch; it’s an examination of the 1990s that reveals an era defined by women fighting for increased social, cultural, and political independence, and I’m really excited about it!
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I think one topic I’ve read and worked on a lot in the past that I would shy away from at the moment is a motherhood story, whether it be fictional or memoir, unless it was really unusual, like We Need to Talk About Kevin.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
I feel very lucky to be able to read a lot of diverse writing and to really follow up on what interests me. One of my favorite parts of my job is coming across a book, or an essay or story online, and reaching out to the writer. It’s really fun to go from expressing admiration to working together. It’s also really gratifying to be able to be a part of every aspect of a writer’s career—editing a manuscript, helping with publicity, and foreign publications.
Monika Woods of InkWell Management began her publishing career working for Ellen Levine at Trident Media Group after graduating from the Columbia Publishing Course. Her interests include literary and commercial fiction and compelling nonfiction in food, popular culture, science, and current affairs. Some of her dream projects include historical fiction about feminists, the Roma, and Maxim Lieber, darkly suspenseful stories (both true and made-up) with unreliable narrators, anything about Poland and its history, nonfiction that is creatively critical, and above all, novels written in a singular voice. Monika lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and two cats and can be found writing about the book she just finished at Books I Just Read or on Twitter at @booksijustread.