One of the agents at the SCBWI Western WA conference this past weekend was Tricia Lawrence with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. My new friend from the conference had taken one of her breakout sessions and reported back to me an interesting comment made by Tricia. If you are going to write a book like Clementine, its gotta be better. My friend had read my query and I specifically use Clementine as a reference for a "like book" to the one I am writing, which she remembered and is why she passed this little tidbit of information to me, much to my dismay. Better than Clementine? If everyone could write better than the best we would all have book deals. Humph. So I vowed to track Tricia down and get her to elaborate on this statement, which she was very willing to do. She was so nice and you could just tell how much she loved this little 8-year-old character Clementine. Tricia said that to her, Clementine is the type of character who draws you in wanting to know more about her, thinking about her long after you are done reading her story. Tricia said she often wonders what Clementine is doing now. Obviously this is a very personal reaction, and not all agents will share the same view on having to top Clementine. Which is a good thing for me.
Maybe if I submit to Tricia (when my book is done) I can suggest that she think of my character as Clementine's fun-loving cousin. There is always more room in one's heart for family... right?
The other thing Tricia said to me is that the agents are starting to get more requests for middle grade books. Young Adult (YA) has been so hot for so long and they are starting to see a shift which she thinks will continue to move down... middle grade, then chapter books and picture books. Eventually. That was good news, at least for what I am writing.