Gretchen Durning

Razorbill/Penguin Random House

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, plus the occasional romcom if it has a really great hook. I’m open to darkness in the thriller or fantasy genre, though I’m not the right person for a dark realistic novel.

I'm accepting select graphic novels in both MG and YA age ranges, and in the same genres listed above.

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 a fairy tale 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

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 as a main plot point
  • Historical fiction (with some exceptions for mysteries set in the past)

I'm also typically not the best editor for stories about fairies and pirates, though if submissions with these elements do otherwise seem like a fit for me, feel free to send them my way.

Submission Guidelines

I am able to review agented submissions only.

Vital Info

Editor
Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children's, Commercial, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Horror, LGBTQ, Middle Grade, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

Favorite sub-genres: Cozy Mystery, Epic Fantasy, Fabulism, MG mystery, Magical Realism, Middle Grade Horror, Portal fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy, YA Mystery, YA RomCom
I'd like the next...

YA:

  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

MG:

  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  • Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

My favorites include...

Books

In addition to the list above:

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • In the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  • Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
  • Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

TV

  • Veronica Mars
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Supernatural
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Stranger Things
  • The Good Place
  • The O.C.
  • Outer Banks
  • Russian Doll
  • Planet Earth/Blue Planet/All BBC nature documentaries
  • Orphan Black
  • The Great British Bake-Off
  • Buzzfeed Unsolved

My Upcoming Events:

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