Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Leah Pierre of Ladderbird Literary

Leah Pierre is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary.

Leah graduated from Rosemont College with a B.A. in English and History and soon after became an agent at Ladderbird Literary Agency. She then went on to receive her M.A. in Publishing from her alma mater. Leah likes to spend her time enjoying the company of fictional characters more than people.

A Texas native, Leah briefly moved to the East Coast to attend Rosemont College to pursue her dream of working in publishing. Not long after graduating with her B.A. in English and History, Leah found an agency home at Ladderbird Literary Agency where she has grown to become a Senior Agent. Leah has since gone on to pursue and receive her M.A. in Publishing from her alma mater. And having accomplished her dream of working in publishing, she moved back to Texas to begin her next adventure and continue searching for the next PB, YA, or Adult project that will hook her (or make her cry). Leah likes to spend her time enjoying the company of fictional characters more than
people. But when not in the company of fictional characters, she likes to crochet, travel,hang out with friends and family, and catch up on the movies and tv shows she is always behind on.

Her projects include forthcoming books from H.D.Hunter, Ravynn K. Stringfield, Kay Sohini Sen, a number of IP projects, and more! She is a tenacious advocate for BIPOC writers and is always looking for ways to bring more diverse intersectionality to the publishing industry.

She is seeking:

Leah is exclusively looking for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and Pacific Islander voices with or without LGBTIQA+ intersectionality—basically anyone underrepresented and/or marginalized.

For Picture Books, she is selectively searching for an author who is writing diverse, heartfelt and emotionally resonant stories about family, heritage, and tough, complex topics (i.e loss, identity, divorce, disabilities, etc). She is also looking for stories that are fun, adventurous, and creative.

For Young Adult/Crossover/Adult, she is looking to acquire across the following genres:
● SFF/Speculative
● Contemporary
● Romance
● Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
● Fairytale or classic retellings/reimaginings

She is specifically interested in stories that contain elements of and are in the vein of
the following:

● The Half of It
● Behind Her Eyes
● Crimson Peak x Yellow
Wallpaper x The Haunting of Bly
● Reality dating rom-com
● Reimagined Macbeth (or even
just a take solely on Lady
● MC with Lizzie Borden vibes
● Emily in Paris
● Schitt’s Creek

● Archive 81
● The Mummy
● Sex Education
● Sadie
● Roll Bounce or a skate rink
● Julie and the Phantoms
● Leverage or anything heist
● Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
● Circe x The Lost Queen
● Atlantis

● Cruella and/or Black women
getting to be angry and/or evil
● Knives Out
● Practical Magic
● Addams Family
● Derry Girls
● Jumanji
● Nancy Drew/Enola Holmes
● Social horror (something similar
to MASTER but better executed
or anything with Jordan Peele
● Reimagined Picture of Dorian
● Edgar Allan Poe
● Sex Lives of College Girls
● Do Revenge
● WandaVision

More generally, she loves diverse and unique work that is fast-paced and has a complex cast of diverse characters. She loves a good plot twist and is a huge sucker for camaraderie, banter, and the tight-knit, family-like group of friends trope. She is pretty much a fan of all the tropes.

She loves a good romantic meet-cute, coming of age, and/or self-discovery story, especially in or post-college. Specifically, how one’s expectations drastically differ from reality or how a recent college grad is blindsided after entering the adult world, the working force, and how they slowly manage to navigate it and get on their feet. She is also really interested in plots that deal with the struggles of today’s online dating culture, about how couples deal with growth and life pulling them in two different directions, or how society’s views can impact interracial relationships. This can also apply to platonic friendships (especially F/F friendships) as she thinks they are affected in the same ways. She’d also love something realistic, raw, introspective, and family- centered. Think To All the Boys I’ve Loved, Just One Day, Darius the Great Is Not

For mystery, thrillers, and suspense, she is here for unreliable narrators and dark academia! She’d also love something along the lines of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Behind Her Eyes, And Then There Were None, When No One is Watching, One of Us is Lying, Sadie, and anything Tiffany D. Jackson. She’d also really love a heist in the veins of Leverage, Now You See Me, or Six of Crows.

For fantasy, she loves it with elements of myth and legends; preferably lesser-known myths/legends i.e. Middle Eastern, Indigenous, African, and South American. I would love a fairytale retelling or re-imagining. For sci-fi, something in the vein of Red Rising, Black Mirror, The Fifth Wave, and Orphan Black. She’s also searching for gothic and atmospheric horror—think Mexican Gothic, Year of the Witching, The Addams Family, The Yellow Wallpaper, White Smoke, Edgar Allan Poe, The Haunting of Hill House and of Bly Manor, The Bloody Chamber, and Crimson Peak.

No’s for her would be MG, dystopian, legal or spy thrillers, and non-fiction. Please no cliche romances where the plot is centered around cheating, parental disapproval, or high school drama. Give me something out of the ordinary, and conflict that’s hard- hitting and really makes me wonder if anyone is right.

Note: While Leah is open to SFF, she is being extremely selective in the works she
takes on due to her wish to expand in the romance, mystery/suspense, and gothic


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelsey Brownlee of Gold Dust Literary

Kelsey Brownlee is a literary agent with Gold Dust Literary.

“After years in the healthcare industry, I finally embraced my true passion: books. There’s nothing quite like curling up by a warm fire with a book in one hand and an iced coffee in the other. I have a strong foundation in writing and editing, and have even developed a writers workbook to help authors navigate story structure. When I’m not immersed in the world of words, you’ll often find me enjoying the company of my dogs and horses or watching movies with my hubby.”

She is seeking:

“I accept MG and YA fantasy, light paranormal of all ages, MG and YA advenutre fiction, and all kinds of romance. (With the exception of bully romance and anything promoting abusive relationships). I’m also interested in light horror (Think House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland).

I’m not the best fit for inspirational/religious, nonfiction, or mystery. (However I will look at cozy fantasy/cozy mystery fantasy).

“I love most fantasy however especially love anything witchy. Think Rachel Griffin’s Wild is the Witch. I love atmospheric novels that take me to another world. I also love epic fantasy. I also love retellings that stray from the norm and offer a unique perspective. Think These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

“For romance, I love a good enemies to lovers vibe. I want characters who are raw with real complications. I’m always down for a good romcom or fun paranormal romance (especially involving witches and magic!) However, I’m not too picky with romances as long as they have the required happy ending!”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Michelle Lazurek of Wordwise Media Services

Michelle Lazurek is a literary agent with Wordwise Media Services.

“In 2009, I felt a calling on my life to start writing. Apart from some poems in high school, I had never written anything before. As I studied and wrote down my thoughts, I soon published my first book. Today, with nine titles in print and hundreds of articles (and a few awards along the way), I teach aspiring authors at writers’ conferences. Now I get the privilege to journey with them more closely, and help them achieve their dreams. I have a Master of Arts in Counseling and Human Relations from Liberty University.

“When not occupied with literary pursuits, you can find me sipping a hot latte at Starbucks, reading a good book, or collecting records from the 1980s and 90s. I live in Pennsylvania with my husband, two children and our crazy dog, Cookie.

What I’m looking for: I’m interested in representing Christian nonfiction for adults, and picture books for children.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kesia Lupo of The Bindery

Kesia Lupo is a literary agent with The Bindery.

“I’m currently Associate Literary Agent at the Bindery, a boutique agency based in Colorado – although I’m personally based in the Bay Area. I am actively building my list of primarily fiction writers. Although I started at the Bindery in May 2023, I have over ten years of experience in the publishing industry.

“In my last job, I was Senior Editor at UK children’s book publisher Chicken House, where I’d been working my way up from Junior Editor since 2015. Here, I acquired and edited children’s fiction for middle-grade and YA readers and worked with wonderful writers including Jasbinder Bilan, James Nicol and Emma Read (MG) and Ben Oliver, Molly Morris, Naomi Gibson and Mellissa Welliver (YA). I consider middle-grade and YA my specialty and would love to represent authors writing for these age-groups.

“I started my career as an assistant at Pan Macmillan London back in 2013, largely working for wonderful SFF/Horror imprint Tor – I loved the authors I worked with there who included Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Nevill and Genevieve Cogman. I’d love to return to my roots and represent adult genre fiction in SFF and Horror.”

She is seeking:

“I’m an omnivore in my reading taste and I would love my list to reflect that – so, while I’ve tried to be exhaustive, if you have something that doesn’t quite fit then please don’t hesitate to query anyway! In general, I’m looking for fiction for middle-grade, YA and adult readers – with a smattering of popular, accessible non-fiction.

“Across age groups, I’m a big fan of original fantasy, accessible but smart science fiction, paranormal or creepy horror, thrillers (especially if they have a shocking twist!), dark academia and basically all stories that help me escape or make me question everything.

“I majored in History so I love a bit of historical fiction too, as long as it’s done in a fun and accessible way – and I enjoy romance. For nonfiction, I’m looking at narrative nonfiction with broad appeal – I love books about psychology and big political, cultural or historical topics.”


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Cole Hildebrand of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

Cole Hildebrand is a literary agent with Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

“I began my publishing career as an Assistant Editor at YesYes Books, going on to become Managing Editor for the press, whose list includes award-winning authors such as Ocean Vuong, Elizabeth Acevedo, Justin Phillip Reed, Danez Smith, Michael Wasson, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, and many others. I joined JVNLA in 2021, working alongside agency President Jennifer Weltz, and am now building my list, seeking adult literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, and poetry, with a particular interest in queer voices.

“In fiction, I’m looking for contemporary literary and experimental work, and am open to novels that blur genre elements in surprising or unconventional ways. I am drawn character and voice driven stories that play with form and narrative structure, written with stylistically distinctive prose and evocative imagery. As a reader, what engages me is not so much the plot of a story (though it certainly matters!), but the unique ways that story is told, from structure to POV to narrative voice. Overall I’m seeking works that break open the possibilities of fiction and immerse the reader in a story both unfamiliar yet utterly convincing.

“In nonfiction, I’m drawn to narrative and/or investigative work that blends personal, cultural, political, and historical threads. Books that engage with radical thought, queer history, art, pop culture, environmental studies, and mental health are always up my alley. I am also interested in memoirs with experimental narrative and formal structures, and well-researched accounts of understudied historical movements.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Emma Dries of Triangle House Literary

Emma Dries is a literary agent with Triangle House Literary.

Emma is a writer and editor, and an agent at Triangle House Literary. She has worked on bestselling and award-winning books in editorial at Alfred A. Knopf, Doubleday Books, Ecco, and Flatiron Books. She has a B.A. in History from the University of Chicago and an M.F.A in Fiction from Johns Hopkins University. She grew up in Lower Manhattan, above the Fulton Fish Market, and now lives in the Hudson Valley.

Emma is interested in literary fiction and narrative nonfiction that grapples with climate change; ambitious multigenerational novels; speculative fiction; and dark or darkly comic domestic fiction. In nonfiction, she is interested in institutional corruption; memoirs incorporating science or policy; essays and longform journalism; and environmental and travel writing. She likes to work with academic writers with great narrative sensibilities, such as historians who can target an understudied era and spin an incredible yarn. Most importantly, she seeks to be immersed—whether in our own world or a world that’s entirely invented.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Elisa Saphier of MacGregor & Luedeke Literary

Elisa Saphier is a literary agent at MacGregor & Luedeke Literary.

As a reader and as an agent, she is open to most genres, as long as the novel or memoir is well-written, but she is partial to character-heavy stories that tell her something about herself or the world around her. She is also hoping to represent marginalized writers and their stories, doing her small part toward equalizing the publishing playing field. She is almost never interested in religious or experimental writing, but is otherwise open to being won over by just about any piece of excellent writing.

While she is open to virtually any genres and types of books, here’s what she is not really looking for right now: science fiction/fantasy, any kind series (although mystery can be an exception to that), picture books, and chapter books.

When Elisa was home sick from school in third grade, her mom gave her two Nancy Drew books to read, and while she’d loved books before, now there was no looking back. She thought maybe she’d be a writer (and tried publishing some pretty bad poetry) but knew that no matter what, she wanted to be around books, words, and writing.

From her first job in a library, to being the editor-in-chief of her high school literary magazine, to working in four bookstores (and owning one), Elisa has always managed to surround herself with books and writers.

Elisa long dreamed of opening her own bookstore and in 2012, after her wife decreed that no more bookshelves were allowed in their house, she took the leap. Elisa and her bookstore, Another Read Through, quickly became known as champions of local writers and local small publishers, and as community builders. She works toward equity in publishing and in writers’ career development with the nonprofit she is co-launching in 2022, Amplify Writers. She believes that books and writers have important things to say, and she wants to help writers get their work out there, and for readers to find them.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ashley Reisinger of TriadaUS

TriadaUS Literary Agent Ashley Reisinger is interested in a variety of fiction across adult, young adult, and middle grade.

She began her career in publishing as an avid writer before interning at Triada in 2020 and discovering her passion for championing authors. Based in Canada, she can often be found complaining about how cold the winters are and trying her very best not to unironically say “eh” out loud.

In adult, she is primarily looking for swoony romances, the more chaotic the protagonist, the better (think Boyfriend Material, The Love Hypothesis, You Had Me at Hola, Book Lovers, Weather Girl).

In young adult, she is interested in heartfelt, character-driven stories, particularly romcoms (think To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, What I Like About You). She can also be enticed by the odd horror, thriller, or spec fic (think Wilder Girls, Cemetery Boys, The Darkness Outside Us, The Whispering Dark).

In middle grade, she is looking for a fun, quirky voice that will make her laugh. Primarily, she’s interested in contemporary (think Front Desk, From the Desk of Zoe Washington), and fantasy/contemporary fantasy (think Amari and the Night Brothers, Ghost Squad).