Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kirsten Aguilar of Ladderbird Literary

Kirsten Aguilar is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary.

Currently, she is only looking for Adult Fiction and Nonfiction. She is not open to YA, MG or PB.

Kirsten was born and raised in Sonoma, California and currently lives in Chicago. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame and has had internships at Folio Literary Management and Penguin. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys tending to her (too) many plants, attempting to cook, and visiting mountains as often as she can. She’s obsessed with whales and hummingbirds. You can find her on Twitter @LitAgentAguilar.

Across the board, she is looking for work that represents the complexity, intersectionality and diversity of the world without tokenization. She is especially dedicated to representing writers of marginalized communities whose stories are often left out of the publishing landscape. She would love to see work that centers BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ experience.

Please do send her: atmospheric writing with a strong sense of place. Narrative voices that are mesmerizing, hypnotizing and have the ability to cast a spell on the reader. Work that experiments with form while being mindful of function. Writing that is playful, lyrical, and revels in language. In all categories, she is looking for work that deals with grief, climate change, diaspora, mental illness, and that imagines or represents ways of living against or outside of capitalism and patriarchy. She loves a good ghost story, a plot that hooks her without tricking her, inescapable family lore, characters whose desires are clear (even if contradictory!), anything that deals with the complexity of friendship, and work that makes room for joy and people being good to one another. At the same time, she is absolutely here for your “unlikeable” protagonists and your unreliable narrators. For books that take place in the US, she has a soft spot for those set in California, the Southwest, the South and the Midwest. That being said, she is particularly seeking work that doesn’t frame the US as being the center of the world. For genre fiction, she is especially interested in books that use tropes to question those very tropes.

Across all categories, she is looking for work that is well-researched, immersive, and brings to light a piece of the world that has been overlooked in publishing.

She is enamored with Luster by Raven Leilani, Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Mean by Myriam Gurba and The Emissary by Yoko Tawada.

Please don’t send her writing that tokenizes, perpetuates stereotypes or depicts suicide as a spectacle.

Across all categories, she would love to see more works-in-translation.

In Adult Fiction she is open to:

Literary
-In Literary Fiction, she is especially interested in works that blend reality and non-reality (Fabulism, Surrealism, and Magical Realism). Think Samanta Schweblin’s short story collection Mouthful of Birds, Carribean Fragoza’s Eat the Mouth that Feeds You, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, and Aimee Bender’s The Butterfly Lampshade.
-She is also seeking books that are propulsive while attempting to interrogate the life of the mind. Think Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment.

Commercial/Upmarket
-In Commercial/Upmarket Fiction she is interested in books with a well-crafted plot and high-stakes both internally and externally. She is seeking drama that centers on a relationship/relationships and on how people prioritize their commitments. She is also highly interested in books that center a blended family.

Thriller
-In Thriller she is looking for books that provide social commentary. She is also interested in a plot that takes a character to an unfamiliar place or returns a character to a place they knew a long time ago. She is not interested in books that center gratuitous violence.

Mystery
-In Mystery she is looking for books in which the “detective” is not a member of law enforcement. She is particularly interested in work that centers a character who stumbles upon a cover-up and she is inclined to political mysteries that focus on local politics (ie: city councils, boards of supervisors, etc.).

She is NOT open to:
SF/Fantasy
Historical Fiction
Multi-Generational Family Saga (although she does love books with a large dose of family gossip/lore)

In Adult Nonfiction she is open to:

Creative Nonfiction
-In Creative Nonfiction, she is looking for Braided Narrative Memoir, Essay Collections, and Family Mythology. She is looking for work that uses the deeply personal to explore a deeply researched topic. She is always looking to learn something. Think The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, Mean by Myriam Gurba, and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson.
-She is not interested in memoir that only explores one person’s life without offering commentary on the world.
-She would love to see books about sustainability and climate change.

She is NOT open to:

Cookbooks
Sports
Religion
True-Crime
Biography

Follow Kirsten on Twitter: @LitAgentAguilar

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