Gretchen Durning

Putnam/Penguin Young Readers

My Manuscript Wish List®

I’m a children’s book editor looking to acquire primarily middle grade and young adult commercial fiction. I’m drawn to stories with a strong hook, a compelling voice, intricately drawn worlds, deeply developed characters, and high stakes. I love books about small town secrets, found family, and I always love to read book with wry humor and dry quips. I’m actively looking to acquire novels by marginalized authors and about marginalized stories to build an inclusive list.

In middle grade, I’m looking for classic mystery stories or murder mysteries, adventure stories, accessible fantasy and paranormal stories, and spooky horror. I’m a big fan of puzzles in a MG mystery, and for this age group I’d prefer to see fantasy that’s grounded and has no barriers to entry. Really strong friend and family relationships are always something I’m drawn to in MG.

In YA, I’d love to see fantasy novels that draw from mythology or folklore, especially from cultures that haven’t been as fully explored in fiction before. I’m more open to a high-concept fantasy in the YA range, though I still love super grounded and accessible fantasy in this age range, too. Paranormal or supernatural fantasy is on my list, as well. I’m also interested in grounded scifi, murder mysteries and thrillers, and some light horror or ghost stories. I’m open to darkness in the thriller or fantasy genre, though I’m not the right person for a dark realistic novel.

I’d love to see:

  • The next Agatha Christie, for young readers
  • A grounded, MG mystery with a supernatural or cryptid twist
  • A modern take on mythology or folklore I’ve never heard of before
  • Supernatural thrillers, in the YA space especially
  • A totally new twist on a classic that turns it into something completely different, like Brittany Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes series
  • Contemporary YA witches
  • An alternate history fantasy in the vein of A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark or To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose, for YA readers

Some other things I love include:

  • Sharks, whales, and other ocean creatures
  • Antarctica
  • Cryptids
  • Logic puzzles and crosswords
  • The Amazon
  • Cape Cod
  • True crime documentaries

I’m not the best fit for:

  • Purely character-driven, low-plot stories
  • Most novels in the contemporary genre
  • Super gritty or dark realistic fiction
  • Stories with heavy gender-based oppression or sexual abuse as a main plot point
  • Historical fiction, with exceptions for mysteries set in the past
  • Stories about fairies, pirates, or zombies, though if submissions with these elements do otherwise seem like a fit for me, feel free to check in with me to confirm if I’d like to see them

Submission Guidelines

I am able to review agented submissions only. Please do not send me unagented manuscripts, since I won’t be able to review them.

Vital Info