Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency

YA Contemporary Fantasy, YA Fantasy

THE DEVOURING GRAY (April 2, 2019)

Born in New York City but raised in Japan and Hong Kong, Christine Lynn Herman subscribes to the firm philosophy that home is where her books are. She returned to the United States to study at the University of Rochester, where she received the Dean’s Prize in fiction and an Honors English degree. Currently, Christine and her books reside in a Brooklyn apartment, along with her partner, many plants, and their extremely spoiled cat.

I’ve been writing my whole life, but I drafted five different manuscripts before I felt confident enough in my work to query for the first time. My first round of querying garnered some requests, but the book I’d submitted wasn’t ready; however, I loved it so much that I entered it into Pitch Wars 2016 as a final resort. I promised myself that if I didn’t get in, I would let it go. Well, I did get in, and the work I did on the manuscript over those two months led to me querying and finding my awesome agent, Kelly Sonnack, shortly after the contest ended. Over the next few months, I revised the book two more times, then went out on submission. I was lucky enough to sell in about two and a half months, and now that book is going to be my debut novel–THE DEVOURING GRAY.

I recently left a full-time job as a literary assistant to focus more on my writing and work part-time outside the industry–but I held that job for two years, with multiple agency internships before that, so I still know the ins and outs of agenting very well. I’ve logged countless hours in the query inbox. I know how to pitch a book, I know how to edit a book, and I know how to stand out in an increasingly crowded YA market. I will not let my mentee go into the query trenches unprepared. I also mentored in AMM Round 4 and had a great time.

One of the best decisions I ever made was applying to a contest focused on mentorship. My 2016 Pitch Wars mentor and I are now best friends (hello, Amanda Foody), and what she taught me about writing and work ethic impacts my life to this day. And she’s not the only writer friend who’s taught me something. Over the years, I’ve met so many wonderful people who’ve been ahead of me in their journeys, who’ve been kind enough to reach back and give me invaluable advice and help. Now, I want to be that person for you!

A bit about me and my general taste: I am drawn to stories that explore the darkness inherent in adolescence without feeling overly grimdark — books that know how to make me laugh AND cry, sometimes in the same paragraph; books that come at speculative fiction elements in ways I’ve rarely seen explored. If you cry over your own characters, laugh at your own jokes, and aspire to drown in atmosphere, I probably want to work with you.

  • Fantasy
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • Own Voices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror

Loves: Enemies to lovers, big dances that go horribly wrong, female characters who are ruthless and ambitious, morally gray main characters, group casts, blood magic

Hates: Sibling love triangles, girl hate, deus ex machina endings


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call

I consider my working style inherently collaborative. Ultimately, my goal as mentor is not to mold a mentee’s book into what I want — it’s to help them figure out what their dream book is, and how they can reach that goal through revisions.

When I read a manuscript, I tend to take copious notes, then compile them into a large edit letter, complete with quotes, that I send to a critique partner or client. I like to give people time to look at the suggestions I’ve made, then talk to them via phone or Skype in order to answer any questions they might have and brainstorm with them. I’m also pretty open to chatting about any issues that might arise as they’re writing on a more scene-by-scene basis, via DM, text, gchat, or whatever works best for the other person.

My ideal mentee is someone who’s hungry and hardworking, who is serious about writing with the goal of publication. I’d love to find someone who feels as if they’re “almost there” with their books, but knows their book is missing something, someone who truly loves their book ideas with their whole being, somebody with minimal chill but lots of heart.

For high fantasy: I love court intrigue and scheming royals, but I also love second-world fantasy that deals with nontraditional characters — give me peasants and merchants and sailors! I love dragons. And monsters. Demons are good, too. If you could categorize your book as “dark fantasy” as in “oh no, they actually WENT THERE,” I want it. If there’s sword fighting, I want it. If there’s a magic system you’re worried is too weird or messed up, I WANT IT. If there are bad jokes, I want those too.

For contemporary fantasy, magical realism/fabulism, or horror: I love looking at the multitude of ways magic can intersect with the “real world.” Witches, boarding school books, ill advised pacts with shady supernatural entities, and secret societies are a few of my favorite things. I adore a good gothic horror story with a whole lot of heart. And cults. Cults are great. I also love dark humor. If you can comp it to Heathers, but with magic, I want it.

For any genre: I want to mentor an author who writes inclusively and thoughtfully about the world we live in, and am particularly interested in boosting underrepresented creators’ points of view.
I am particularly interested in finding a project with great queer rep, especially if there’s an F/F romance involved. Across the board, I love multi-POV books with group casts. “Ragtag crew of misfits facing down impossible odds” is one of my favorite tropes. Strong female friendships are also a favorite, as are teenage characters who feel layered and real. Other favorite things: atmospheric writing, storytelling decisions that genuinely surprise me, and witty banter.

I am not into “creatures” in high fantasy or contemp fantasy books (elves/trolls/goblins/fae/werewolves, etc.), unless I specifically mentioned them above.

I am not the right mentor for Contemporary without any speculative elements — it’s just not my wheelhouse.

Books: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones, THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert, THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black, the SEVEN REALMS series by Cinda Williams Chima, STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor, FURYBORN by Claire Legrand

TV shows: Avatar: the Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Parks and Rec, Wynonna Earp, Hunter x Hunter, Stranger Things, Community

Music: Marina + the Diamonds, K. Flay, Lorde, Hayley Kiyoko, Bishop Briggs, ask me about my scene kid phase. Also, if you become my mentee, I WILL make you a book playlist. And a novel aesthetic. Be warned.