Valentina Sainato

JABberwocky Literary Agency

My Manuscript Wish List®

I’ve been with JABberwocky Literary Agency since early 2020, and I’m looking for fresh, enticing fiction and nonfiction! Please note that my query box is currently open to a couple of genres at the moment but will open to others in the future.

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Horror: Horror is my favorite genre to read, and I’m looking for lots of different flavors here. If it’s spooky, eerie, disorienting, thrilling, existential, or horror-lite, I want to read it. Blends with sci-fi/fantasy are also welcome, but it should still feel at home on the horror shelf!

I particularly love stories featuring monsters, witches, and demons, but I really want to see fresh takes on them with unexpected twists. A good ghost story or haunted house will always catch my attention; Carmen Maria Machado’s work is one of my all-time favorite writers. Other horror elements I enjoy: body horror, cults or secret societies, natural phenomena like fungi and flora, and settings that make me feel claustrophobic.

While I tend to gravitate more to supernatural or suspenseful horror over serial killers, I do like self-aware homages to slasher & cult films (like Stephen Graham Jones’ brilliant My Heart is a Chainsaw). Survival horror or horror with thriller elements are also categories that I like but don’t read as often.

Horror media I love: 

  • Books: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix, My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate, The Honeys by Ryan La Sala
  • Film/tv: Get Out, Scream, Ringu/The Ring, Hereditary, Midnight Mass, The Haunting of Hill House
  • Other media: video games like Oxenfree and Slay the Princess, podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale and The Magnus Archives

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Fantasy: I’m eager to see projects from all different cultures and histories, particularly non-Western and non-European stories! Characterization and world-building are a big priority for me in fantasy and mythology projects. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a manuscript jumps right into the plot when I don’t have a clear sense of who I’m reading about and why I should invest in these stakes.

For fantasy, I lean more towards the contemporary side of things but am open to secondary-world fantasies with a unique premise as well. Lush atmospheric settings and fresh magic systems mean more to me than epic sword fights or Chosen One books. Cozy or soft fantasy is also very welcome in my query box (a la Legends & Lattes, Over the Garden Wall, or Studio Ghibli)

With mythology and folklore, I’m most excited by fiction that draws on a specific tale or lore and shapes it into its own story. Whether it’s a close retelling or loose adaptation, I want to be sucked in by how fresh and unexpected the world seems, even if it’s mythology or folklore I know very well.

Fantasy/mythology media I love: 

  • Books: The Singing Hills Cycle series by Nghi Vo, Circe by Madeline Miller, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez, No Gods No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull, Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  • TV/film: Spirited Away, Pan’s Labyrinth, Avatar the Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra, Over the Garden Wall, The Owl House
  • Other media: video games like Hades

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Science fiction / speculative fiction: I’m more selective about science fiction and speculative fiction; I’m a big character reader and want stories with an emotional core that drives them. I was absolutely blown by Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark as well as Simon Jimenez’s The Vanished Birds; projects in those vein are what I’d love to work on. I also love narratives that play with time and/or space. Sci-fi books that deep dive into spaceship mechanics or battle sequences generally are not for me.

I also like reading more grounded contemporary books that have a speculative or off-beat twist such as Quan Barry’s We Ride Upon Sticks. Absurdity is also welcome but it has to mesh well with the voice, like in Hilary Mantel’s Temporary.

Sci-fi / speculative media I love: 

  • Books: How High We Go In the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu, The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar, Scythe by Neil Shusterman, Temporary by Hilary Mantel, We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
  • Film/tv: Everything Everywhere All At Once, Severance, The Twilight Zone, Gravity Falls, Sense8
  • Other media: video games like I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, Outer Wilds, and Neo Cab

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Nonfiction: I’m looking primarily at narrative nonfiction and essay collections. I’m looking for well-researched and well-plotted manuscripts that dive into specific topics that don’t lose sight of the author’s voice along the way. The project should have a clear idea or thesis that strikes through the book followed by exploration, either by narrative or by research, that layers new ideas and threads.

Topics that especially interest me: pop culture and media, science, psychology, sociopolitical and feminist issues, food & drink, magic and mythology, and other weird niche topics!

Nonfiction I love:

  • Books: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer; Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake; Stiff by Mary Roach; Word by Word by Kory Stamper; Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier; In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado; It Came From the Closet, ed. by Joe Vallese; Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman; Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Submission Guidelines

To query Valentina, please submit your query letter and the first fifteen pages of your completed manuscript through the online form at https://querymanager.com/query/ValentinaSainato .

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info