I have been at Janklow & Nesbit since May 2019 and am currently building my list. I’m particularly interested in stories that center marginalized communities and prose that is cinematic and atmospheric with good rhythm. In both fiction and nonfiction, I’m drawn towards compelling, fresh voices that make me feel as though the writer is in the room with me, telling me their story with intimacy as if we were already acquainted. Regardless of how plot-driven a story is, characters with rich inner worlds and emotional depth are a must for me.
I’m interested in literary, upmarket, and commercial fiction and select nonfiction. I’m not the right person for picture books, prescriptive nonfiction, self-help, religion/spirituality books, romance, commercial thrillers, hard sci-fi, poetry, or short story collections.
Seeking stories that are or feature:
The search for and rebuilding of identity. For example, a story about a character who is first/1.5/second gen and in between cultures, is queer and discovering they’re queer, has lost who they used to be due to trauma and is figuring out who they are now, is juggling different personas/masks, is changing because of social setting or physical environment, etc.
Diaspora and displacement
Family and community including found family/community
Friendships that are tested and long-broken friendships that are mended
Examinations of power in relationships
Stories that deal with challenging topics but avoid being didactic or exploitative. Emotional heaviness balanced with levity is a plus
Complex female relationships
Characters who don’t fit gender or heterosexual norms and either grapple with or defy toxic masculinity and compulsive heterosexuality
Intergenerational stories, particularly those that focus on echoes of past decisions reverberating through present and future generations as well as parallels between generations. By intergenerational, I’m looking for anything that is as sprawling as multiple generations or as small as the relationship between a parent and child
Sharp social commentary that feels timely or current—or both—woven in
Meticulous worldbuilding, no matter how simple or complex
Settings that aren’t inspired by Western Europe
Transportive, enchanting adventures whether the characters are in this world or another one and whether they’re on the road or confined to a few places
Fresh spin on magic systems or superpowers that are unusual, e.g., Vicious, Hunter x Hunter, Boku no Hero Academia, Misfits
I prefer everyday characters in extraordinary circumstances to characters who are “Chosen Ones.” However, I’m very interested in the trope when it comes to failed Chosen Ones or Chosen Ones that fall short. Characters who aren’t the Chosen One who find themselves in that position, whether they swindle their way into it, do it to protect others, or accidentally find themselves in that position are compelling as well
Stories that aren’t about epic, large-scale wars. If it is about war, I’m more interested in seeing the personal ramifications war has on a select group of characters and the ways that war uproots them emotionally and physically rather than the war itself
An exploration of the idea of a monster. Who is a monster and why? What does it mean to be a monster? Who sees that person as a monster?
I love portal, historical, gothic, and dark fantasy and both high and low fantasy
I’m not the right person for space operas and wars or dystopian/apocalyptic fiction unless you give me a feminist, inventive, boldly unshackled work like Mad Max: Fury Road
Marginalized individuals (e.g., POC, women, queer people, disabled people, ethnic/religious minorities) who find ways to survive and thrive despite systemic oppression
Stories set in ethnic enclaves and neighborhoods richly steeped in history
Hidden histories and anything that either is set in a time or place that isn’t well-represented in U.S. fiction or focuses on a community that has often been overlooked if it’s a time/place that’s familiar
Graphic novels and nonfiction
Art that can stand on its own even without color or before color is added
Dynamic movement in and through the panels
Stylistically engaging, unique art that either feels nostalgic but not derivative or fresh and boundary-pushing
Strong sense of interplay between art and prose (knowing how and when to progress the story through the art vs. text)
Great use of space and tempo to evoke emotion
Manga and manhwa sensibilities are a plus
Memoirs, essay collections, and narrative nonfiction with a nuanced, intersectional approach that tap into the vein of current issues
Extraordinary people who have gone under the radar
Hidden histories about people whose accomplishments have been diminished or attributed to others
Narrators who use personal experience or an on-the-ground perspective to situate the reader in their work and speak to a larger topic
Books about food, travel, pop culture, and cultural criticism that dive deeply and thoughtfully into culture and traditions. I’m primarily interested in non-white (especially Korean or, more broadly, Asian) subjects and settings
While I mostly gravitate towards adult, I’m open to select contemporary, SFF, horror, and historical middle grade and YA as well. Here are some more specifics:
Stories that give as much weight to the young protagonist’s troubles as they would an adult’s and understand that even if the struggles are “small,” they aren’t so for the character at their age
Characters who are going through growing pains and don’t feel they’re on the same page as everyone else. Their peers are growing up faster than them or they’re the ones who are growing up too quickly
I also enjoy characters with a bratty streak like Artemis Fowl, Nathaniel (Bartimaeus Sequence), and Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials)
Growing awareness, whether sudden or gradual, that the world isn’t black or white and is a much larger and more frightening, mysterious, and exciting place than they thought
Protagonists who are or learn to be courageous and self-sufficient even if they have steadfast friends on their journeys
Sprinkles of wit and humor even if the story is dark
Writing that is innovative with form (e.g., A Series of Unfortunate Events) is a treat
Older YA (late teens to early twenties)
Messy, vulnerable characters who trip over their emotions, whether they’re closed off or they wear their hearts on their sleeves
Characters who don’t get what they want and need to find another path forward
Plots that go sideways because of mistakes
Friendships and rivalries that spur characters to greater heights
Drama that isn’t rooted in miscommunication or love triangles
Difficult decisions that close certain doors and potential futures and irrevocably alter relationships
While I’m open to historical fiction set in any era, for more contemporary period pieces, I’m interested in writing that heavily leans into subcultures, movements, and pop culture, e.g., early Internet culture, 90s K-pop fandom
Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include "Jane Chun" in the email subject line and send the following:
Fiction: an informative description, a brief synopsis, and the first ten pages. Please include the sample pages in the body of the email below your query.
Nonfiction: an informative description, a full outline, and the first ten pages of the manuscript. Please include the sample pages in the body of the email below your query.
Graphic novels/nonfiction: send 10 illustrated pages with text (attached as a PDF) and a synopsis in the body of the email below your query.
Yolk; On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Black Sun; The Echo Wife; Vicious; The Night Diary; The Hate U Give; The Vanishing Half; Detransition, Baby; Minor Feelings
My favorites include...
Films: Spirited Away, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Handmaiden, Arrival, Parasite, Moonlight, Do the Right Thing, When Harry Met Sally, Booksmart, Lady Bird, Little Women, La Haine, Trainspotting, Taxi Driver, What We Do in the Shadows, the Before trilogy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Zodiac, Memories of Murder, Knives Out, Lilo & Stitch
TV shows:Succession, Severance, Fleabag, Kingdom, Forest of Secrets, Twenty-Five Twenty-One, Orphan Black seasons 1 & 2, Barry, Russian Doll season 1, Schitt’s Creek, Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Golden Girls
Books:Piranesi, In the Dream House, Unbroken, The Mother of All Questions, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, The Golem and the Jinni, The Remains of the Day, Holes, Coraline, Ella Enchanted, His Dark Materials, the Old Kingdom series, the Bartimaeus Cycle, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Artemis Fowl series, The Giver, The Outsiders, Tuck Everlasting, books by Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl, and Edward Eager, Persepolis, Hunter x Hunter, Ajin, Ms. Marvel (G. Willow Wilson’s run)