Brent Taylor, a literary agent from TriadaUS, is a charming blend of enthusiasm and candidness. He also has the ability to consume remarkable quantities of Diet Coke and Reeses Pumpkins. We met at conference where I was lucky enough to sit next to him during lunch.
Me: Hi, Brent. It was fantastic meeting you at the Michigan Writing Workshop. I really enjoyed hearing about your agenting experiences.
Him: It was lovely to meet you too!
Me: Thanks. There are so many questions I’d like to ask. Let’s start with an important one—what was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid?
Him: I have been Winnie the Pooh. As you can tell, I loved this costume so much that I denied and ran from all media requests and cameras.
Me: What’s the biggest misconception about your career as an agent?
Him: That this is a boring or quiet job. It’s 24/7/365 and no day is the same, and these are all the things that I love about it. I’m also not entirely sure about the idea that you can just “become” an agent overnight. You have to possess really strong personality traits to be a successful agent, and I don’t believe any of those traits can be easily cultivated.
Me: What’s your most memorable moment as an agent?
Him: Getting my first offer! I’d told my client that an editor was taking her spectacular novel to an acquisitions meeting, and she (as writers often are) was a nervous wreck. But on the day of the meeting, my client sent me a box of cupcakes with a note that said something along the lines of, “Regardless of what today brings us, thank you for getting me through this week.” And it was so special to me. Luckily, an offer came that day (and a few others in the subsequent week), and the cupcakes were celebratory.
Me: The Time Traveler’s Wife was one of your favorite books (mine, too). If you could ask Audrey Niffenegger one question, what would you ask?
Him: I don’t know that I have a single one. I’d love to have a conversation with her. The thing about Audrey that fascinates me is her background as a papermaker. If I’m remembering correctly, I believe that she used to hand make her own books and sell ten or so copies of a single edition. I would love nothing more than to pick her brain about trade book publishing in general. I’m always crossing my fingers she comes out with new fiction soon, but I also like that she seems to still be doing things largely on her own terms.
Me: Where’s your favorite spot to read?
Him: My hot tub.
Me: Name a person you admire and why?
Him: My boss, Uwe Stender. He’s one of the most genuine people in publishing (and in general) that I’ve ever encountered, and I’m so lucky to be working closely with him. Kindness and humor are his default, but if you piss him off just enough then he becomes an absolute bull dog. I think he’s one of the best agents in the world.
Me: If you had to choose between Diet Coke and Reese’s Pumpkins, would you survive? Let’s say you do survive. Which do you choose and why?
Him: Diet Coke. I have to keep what little of my figure I have left!
Me: Something you should have gotten in trouble for, but didn’t get caught.
Him: I spent a lot of my teenagehood in hookah bars well, um, doing what you do in hookah bars. And despite my parents being very cool, I kept this hangout spot top secret.
Me: What do you want for Christmas?
Him: Books, always.
Me: Have you ever met anyone famous? How did you react?
Him: At the Lambda Literary Awards a few years ago I sat next to Ally Sheedy’s daughter and we talked about queer poetry. That’s my best claim to fame.
Subject in school Calculus
Food Anything that’s not chicken and pizza
Me: Thanks for stopping by, Brent. It’s been fun getting to know you better!
Brent Taylor is an assistant and agent at the TriadaUS Literary Agency. You can find him on Twitter @NaughtyBrent, or on his blog, naughtybrent.com. He is seeking a wide range of fiction including middle grade, young adult, mystery/thrillers, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. To query him, send your query letter and first ten pages (pasted in the body of the message) to brent at triadaus dot com.