Whitley Abell

Whitley Abell

Inklings Literary Agency

My Manuscript Wish List

I am currently building my list and am actively seeking Young Adult, Middle Grade and select Commercial Fiction.

Regardless of market or genre, I’m looking for books with a great hook or a fascinating world, a strong but *real* protagonist, a story I can sink my teeth into, and, most importantly, a voice I would follow to the end of the world and back. Strong female voices are near and dear to my heart, and I am particularly drawn to retellings and reimaginings (especially untold histories, classic movies, little-known myths and fairy tales, and classic ballet—think Giselle, The Firebird, etc), new cultures and traditions from parts of the world I’ll likely never see, and characters who are genuinely flawed but (usually) well-meaning.

Commercial Fiction

Historical  Women’s Fiction.  I’d love a book similar to Bletchley Circle or Call the Midwife, woman forging a some sort of new path for themselves in the midst of a greater story, quite like Daisy Mason, or any of the Crowley sisters (at one point or another) in Downton Abbey. I especially love dual timeline stories, unraveling mysteries both then and now. I still find myself left spinning by Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites and Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden, and would really love to find a book that packs a similar punch of lyrical voice, raw emotion, and a touch of mystery.

Contemporary Women’s Fiction; commercial, upmarket, and literary alike. Books, with standout plots, complex characters, and deeply layered relationships, that are beautiful and bewildering, heartbreaking and heartwarming.

I’m looking for female-centric psychological thrillers à la Megan Abbott;

Clever, emotional, and darkly funny upmarket narratives à la Maria Semple and Emma Straub; and

Commercial chick-lit, complete with foot-pop worthy romance, breezy humor, and wholly relatable trials and tribulations à la Sophie Kinsella, Rainbow Rowell, and Taylor Jenkins Reid. (Especially if it has a magical realism bent!)

I want the Beth Latimers, Leslie Knopes, Liz Lemons, Lorelei Gilmores, Jeannie  Van Der Hooven, Nina Sayers, Sarah Mannings, Sabrina Fairchilds, Carrie Mathisons, and 10-years later Veronica Mars of the women’s fiction realm.

I’m also looking for immersive, inventive fantasies on par with The Magicians and A Darker Shade of Magic.

* Please note: I am NOT looking for genre romance, crime, mysteries, sci-fi, or epic fantasy for adult audiences.

Young Adult and Middle Grade

My interests are pretty broad, but I’d be especially excited to see:

Historical. I’m always craving a new perspective or a fresh facet in history, whether realistic, horrifically gothic, or veiled in magical realism.

– I adore thrilling, twisted  paranormal / fantasies, especially when set in the rise of the modern age, à la both Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty (Edwardian) and The Diviners (Roaring Twenties) series.

– I would LOVE an inventive / revisionist YA retelling of history, whether seriously epic (à la And I Darken) or fantastically funny (à la My Lady Jane). I love when authors take a known event or figure in history and ask “what if…”

– I’m also dying to find a MG about the second Philip Hamilton, who was born after his elder brother Philip died in his duel with George Eaker, and who was only two years old when Alexander Hamilton died.

Note: I get my love of history from my grandpa and my constant diet of classic literature growing up, so you can always grab my attention with the Regency and Victorian eras and the 1910s-50s, and I’m an absolute sucker for the 1920s-1940s. I’m not particularly interested in Medieval England, which is what I see in my inbox mostly, but I would love a more ancient historical set in the British Iron Age or in a part of the world or a time we don’t much see (i.e., not Western Europe or the U.S.).

A great magical realism, either truly literary (ex, When the Moon Was Ours) that borders on psychological thriller. Straddle that line of known and unknown, real and imaginary, sure and unreliable, à la The Walls Around Us, Wink Poppy Midnight, and The Accident Season.

Horror. Give me all the bone-chilling, neck hair raising, thought provoking, unreliable storytelling, camp fire belonging horror. I’ll take it straight up scary (à la The Conjuring or Oculus), or with a healthy helping of kitsch (à la Scream Queens).

Fantasy. I grew up as much in the worlds of fantasy greats—Robin Mckinley, Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey—as I did in my own, and would love to find an epically-feminist fantasy that does something new with the genre, carves a new path instead of following those we’ve known. And if the culture and world are new, or foreign to the Western European influence we’re used to, even better!

Speculative. I don’t even know what to ask here, because my favorite thing about Spec fiction is the unknown expanse of possibility. So instead, I’ll say what I’ve loved: This Savage Song, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, More Happy Than Not, The Shades of London series, and Kiersten White’s Mind Games.

In Contemporary YA and MG, I love a high-concept hook, and would also love to find:

– A thrilling, geeky adventure, preferably with an awesome female protagonist with a great voice. Heists, P.I.s, and clumsy spies would be in welcome company.

– A realistic novel with a hilarious heroine that’s not just poking fun of herself or mocking others, a sweet romance, and story with the depth and poignancy I’ve come to crave in contemporary fiction. I have soft spot for trips abroad, artifacts from the past, mischief and boy humor, goofy guys, awkward ducks, April Ludgates, and devout fan girls of the world.

– A best friend break-up story. Specifically, I’d love to see either a serious toned YA told in the style of The Last 5 Years, or a humorous, heart-filled story akin to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but for a MG readership.

But more than anything, though, I want to be surprised and delighted, and to fall in love.

Fun facts about me:

– I studied dance from kindergarten through college, spending hours a week in the studio and backstage

– I was in a sorority in college, and hated pretty much every second of it because I couldn’t do the whole “sister” thing, but I still fascinated by them for all the reasons I couldn’t grasp myself

– I grew up with three brothers, so gross “boy” humor is still a second language to me


Random interests / things I find oddly fascinating, and love seeing in submissions:

  • Cults / Stockholm Syndrome
  • Hollywood / Celebrity Gossip (I know, I know…)
    • Both modern and Old Hollywood
  • Found Artifacts
  • Scotland / Ireland
  • Pompeii
  • Conspiracy Theories
  • Politics
  • Dance, especially ballet and tap
  • Musical Theater (I want a book that makes me feel the way I do during an overture)
  • Jack the Ripper (I’ve watched so many documentaries, but I can always go for one more)

Submission Guidelines….

Submissions should be emailed to query@inklingsliterary.com


  • Put “Query Whitley: BOOK TITLE” in the subject line (That means YOUR book’s title)
  • Paste the first 10 pages below your letter (I will not open attachments)
  • Email it to:  query@inklingsliterary.com
  • For NON-QUERY related questions only, you can contact me at whitley@inklingsliterary.com. Unsolicited queries sent to this address will not be read.

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children's, Commercial, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Humor, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult

Favorite sub-genres: Chick Lit, Commercial Women's Fiction, Commercial and Literary, Contemporary YA, Feminism, Gothic, Gothic Horror, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction, Humor, LGBT YA, Literary Middle Grade, Literary YA/MG, Magical Realism, Multicultural, Noir, Psychological Thrillers, Revisionist Historical, Romantic Comedy, Speculative Fiction, Study Abroad Stories, Upmarket Commercial Fiction, Upmarket Women's Fiction, WWII, YA horror, diverse
I’d like the next…

Women’s Fiction:

Books: Where’d You Go Bernadette, Attachments, The Forgotten Garden, Burial Rites, Twenties Girl, The Royal We, Landline, America’s First Daughter, The Girl on the Train, Room, And Then There Were None, The Girl Before

Movies / TV: UnREAL, Brain Dead, The Good Place, Parks & Rec, New Girl, Bletchley Circle, House of Lies, Black Swan, The Babadook, You Again, Thirteen

Young Adult:

Books: This Savage Song, And I Darken, My Lady Jane, More Happy Than Not, If I Was Your Girl, Glitter, Kill the Boy Band, Exit Pursued By Bear, Imaginary Girls, When We Collided, Anna and the French Kiss, Tiger Lily, Heist Society, A Great & Terrible Beauty, All the Truth That’s in Me, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Diviners, An Abundance of Katherines, Code Name Verity, We Were Liars

Movies / TVThe Final Girls, Ashby, Scream Queens, Mean Girls, I Ship It

Middle Grade:

Books: A Snicker of Magic, The Truth About Jellyfish, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, How to Train Your Dragon, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Dani Noir, Liar and Spy, Princess Academy, Counting Thyme

Movies / TV: Inside Out, What We Did On Our Holiday,  The Way Way Back, The Famous Jet Jackson, Mr. Peabody & Sherman

My favorites include…


Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Catch Me If You Can, Leap Year, Love Actually, The Princess Bride, Eternal Sunshine on a Spotless Mind, the Bourne series, When in Rome, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Pirates of the Caribbean, Singing in the Rain, Forgetting Sarah Marshall,

TV Shows:

Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, Orphan Black, Agent Carter, Veronica Mars, Brooklyn 99, Community, New Girl, Parks and Rec, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, Chuck, Scream Queens, Game of Thrones, The Great British Baking Show

My Upcoming Events: