Kiana Nguyen, Donald Maass Literary Agency
YA Speculative Fiction and Thriller/Mystery
Alex Higgins is a young adult author who was born and raised in Maryland. She’s been writing since she could hold a pencil, starting with terrible knock-off Twilight fanfic before graduating to stories with strong women and queer teens at the heart of it. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching Netflix, listening to true crime podcasts, working on her bullet journal, or devouring any books she can get her hands on. She lives near DC with her family, including her friendly little dog, fat orange cat, and sneaky kitten.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I wrote my first completed book when I was 12 and started seriously pursuing publication at 16. In January 2017, I was chosen by Kayla Olson to be her mentee in round 1 of Author Mentor Match. For the next year, she helped me revise and develop two different projects. I queried and eventually shelved one book, but I found success through querying and twitter pitch contests with my second book. I first connected with my agent during #DVPit in October 2017, and a few months later, I signed with Kiana Nguyen of Donald Maass Literary Agency! Now we’re working on revisions before going out on submission.
I’ve had a handful of critique partners and people I’ve beta read for over the years, and many of them have received representation and other forms of success. I’m also a Author Mentor Match mentee from round 1. My mentor is wonderful, so I have a great set of guidelines to go off of.
Author Mentor Match truly changed my life when I was chosen as a mentee, and I want to give back to the community that helped me. Having a mentor changed every aspect of my writing, from development of ideas to the craft itself. It was so nice to have a mentor to support and guide me every step of the way through the writing and publishing process, and I would love to be able to help someone in that same way.
First, let me say that I would love to mentor someone who is a teen or has a book with queer characters.
I’m looking for a book I’ll fall completely in love with in every way, preferably one with at least a little romance and a speculative bent. My dream book would be a YA dark fantasy with a villain romance, so if you’ve got that, I want to see it! On the other side of the spectrum though, I love love love contemporary fantasy. Really though, I’m open to almost everything. The writing itself is the most important thing, because if I love your writing, you’ve got me forever.
Revision is my favorite part of the process (second only to brainstorming and making pinterest boards), so I’m looking for someone who is ready to get their hands dirty and work hard to make their book shine. At the end of the day, this is *your* story, and I’m just here to help you make it the best it can possibly be.
Writing can be isolating, but I want to be there for my mentee every step of the way. I’m here for developing ideas and brainstorming solutions to problems, but I’m also here when it comes to querying and beyond! I have lots of experience when it comes to querying, so I can answer any questions you might have about the process or the industry itself.
Ideally, I’d love to find a mentee who isn’t just looking for a mentorship, but a friendship as well. I want to create a long lasting relationship with someone and help them along the way on their writing journey!
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I’m looking for either high fantasy or contemporary fantasy. I’m really only looking for mystery/thriller if it is addition to either of the two genres I just mentioned, but I’m not opposed to mysteries that don’t have a speculative twist.
Trope wise, I love hate-to-love romance, magical competitions, and anything that addresses “what makes a monster?”
I’m not really looking for stories with the chosen one trope (unless it’s a fresh take), wars against magical creatures/race wars, or female characters who have to be physically powerful with typically masculine characteristics to be considered strong.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
I want to completely fall in love with a book, one that I can gush about forever and read over and over. Usually, this is how I like to give feedback: I do at least one round of big picture edits, with both an edit letter addressing developmental feedback and in-line comments for more scene-level comments. I always include things I love in my edit letter because I believe it’s very important to include praise alongside critique. The length of the edit letter will vary, depending on how much work I think the book needs, but it will always be full of ideas for you to work with. I’m always here over text, twitter DMs, emails, etc. for brainstorming revision ideas or ways to fix a scene. It depends on the mentee, but I can be very hands on and help with every step of the process, or I can step back and let you do your thing if you prefer to work on it alone. We’ll repeat this step as many times as necessary before moving onto the querying stage. There, I can help you write a strong query and synopsis, build a tailored agent list for querying, and provide moral support. Most of all though, I would love to create a long lasting relationship that’s rooted in friendship for as long as the mentee wants/needs.
I want someone who is ready to put in the work and make their manuscript the best it can be, whether that means tweaking the ending or doing a complete rewrite. They should be able to take suggestions, but also know when to stand their ground. Being able to let go of projects and move on is a must (it’s okay if you’ve done this previously). They should also be somewhat industry savvy and have a good grip on the current market.
I’m more laid-back and casual, so I’d love someone who likes to brainstorm ideas together, isn’t afraid to ask questions, and wants to talk about things other than writing, too!
– Dark fantasy with a heavy dose of romance
– Bisexual rep in any genre (especially #ownvoices)
– Villains! Villain romance, villain main characters, villains who steal the spotlight from the MC–if you’ve got a great villain, I want to see it!
– New, fresh, inventive fantasy
– Witches, whether they are in high fantasy or urban/contemporary fantasy
– Speculative YA with a mystery twist
– Multi POV stories with an inclusive cast
– a YA Game of Thrones that is diverse and filled with complex female characters
– Contemporary fantasy with eerie, creepy settings
– Stories that can be compared to Stranger Things, Riverdale, or anything by Kara Thomas–bonus points for a book that has all 3!
– Books that take typical fantasy tropes and turn them on their head (ex: the chosen one, the long lost princess, etc.)
– Heists, abductions, assassins
– Girls like Allison Argent from Teen Wolf
– Hate to love romance in any of the genres I’m looking for
– Fantasy with non-western settings
– Love triangles that are fully fleshed out and make me root for everyone involved
– Fae, but more Holly Black a la The Cruel Prince than SJM
DO NOT SEND ME:
– books that feature sexual assault/aftermath
– stories with only allocishet white characters
– girls who are “not like other girls”
– girl on girl hate
I’m hesitant to say anything more than this because I’m pretty much open to everything within my genres! If you’re unsure, send it to me!
Books: An Enchantment of Ravens, The Scorpio Races, The Winner’s Curse, everything by Kara Thomas, the Grisha trilogy, Shatter Me, These Broken Stars, Blackhearts, Wintersong, Furyborn, Six of Crows, All the Missing Girls, The Wrath and the Dawn
TV: LOST, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Law and Order: SVU, The Office, Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries, The 100, How to Get Away with Murder, Outlander (If you have the YA version of this–GIMME), The Crown, Sense8
Movies: 10 Things I Hate About You, anything Marvel (especially Black Panther and movies with Bucky Barnes), Pride and Prejudice (2004 version), Wonder Woman, Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, Save the Last Dance, The Incredibles, Star Wars (excluding the prequels)