Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary

Dark Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy

THE BONE GARDEN (Spring 2019)

Heather Kassner loves thunderstorms, hummingbirds, and books. She lives with her husband in Arizona, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the rain, photographing hummingbirds, and reading and writing strange little stories.

I have a million scraps of paper and spiral notebooks with ideas, first chapters, and first pages. Over the years, I loved starting stories and imagining all the wonderful and terrible things that might befall the characters—but I didn’t always write down those middles and endings. I spent more time plotting in my head or with my nose in someone else’s book than writing. Writing was my ‘someday’ dream. And then I lost my job in a round of layoffs at work. I found myself in this stressful and exciting place, thinking of what I might do next. I started writing a story that I could not shake loose. And more importantly, I finished writing it! Nervously, I queried THE BONE GARDEN, receiving requests and rejections. About 3 months later I signed with my agent, revised, and was on sub for about two weeks before it sold.

After I signed with my agent, I found some amazing critique partners (some of whom are debuting with me in 2019!). I love diving in to someone else’s manuscript, letting their words wrap around me, and offering feedback to help them strengthen their already amazing stories.

Writing can sometimes feel so solitary, or at least, it was for me when I wrote THE BONE GARDEN. I didn’t know anyone in the writing community, let alone have any critique partners, until last year. And they have made a world of difference! I am so excited to be a mentor, so I can support another writer.

Please send me beautiful, dark stories with pinpricks of light.

Anything with magic will draw me in, whether it’s woven like a fine thread or whether it bleeds across every page. Genre is less important to me than the storytelling. I love contemporary fantasy or historical where the magic flits through air, never quite settling, just as much as I enjoy dark fantasy where magic vibrates through the world.

I want to fall in love with your characters. They might be strange or lonely or broken, searching for their place in the world. They might be strong or iron-hearted, driven by love or revenge. Whatever their journey, I hope to find characters I care about so much that I chase after them into their stories.

And language is everything. Prose that is beautiful like The Disappearances and anything Laini Taylor, heartfelt and heartbreaking like The Dollmaker of Krakow, dark like Coraline, or atmospheric like The Night Circus.

I’m a sucker for a great first line, but of course that’s a little thing compared to the whole of the story. I’m looking for a manuscript that sets the tone early on and maintains its unique voice throughout.

  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror

In any genre, send me the strange and unusual. There aren’t specific tropes I hate, but of course, the concept and execution should feel fresh. For horror, although I’m not squeamish, I’m looking for something more dark and creepy than gory.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Freestyle in chat

An edit letter is so important and should balance all the things I love in the story with thoughts for revision. I have a good eye for finding inconsistencies. And I also tend to ask questions to more deeply explore character motivations and plot, etc. Ultimately, my comments are just suggestions, as it’s YOUR story, but I hope my feedback will resonate with you and give you ideas on how to strengthen your manuscript. As for line edits, it will depend on what you want/need, but this step will place the final polish on your manuscript. And I am flexible, so if you have questions, if you need encouragement, if you want to brainstorm, I’m just an email away.

I would love to work with someone who is motivated to revise, open to feedback, and focused on the process as much as the result. Someone who knows their characters inside and out and understands the heart of their story, but is looking for help digging deeper into the manuscript and making it shine.


  • Magic (whimsical and glimmering or dark and twisty)
  • The unknown (something that is off, the feeling you get watching Stranger Things or reading Bird Box, a prickling sensation that has you glancing over your shoulder)
  • Atmosphere (build the setting and the world like it’s a character all its own)
  • Something that makes me feel (break my heart and then stitch it back together again)


  • Mermaid stories
  • Elements to the plot that rely heavily on coincidence It’s not a long list, as I don’t want to miss a story that might surprise me!

YA Books:

The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon
Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Vicious by V.E. Schwab

MG Books:

Splendors & Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
The Graveyard Book & Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman