Saritza Hernandez

YA Contemporary/Thriller/LGBTQ+/Magical Realism/Mystery/Romance

BURRO HILLS (March 20, 2018)
Diversion Books

Julia Lynn Rubin lives the writer’s life in Brooklyn, where she has recently finished an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School. She has been writing books, poems, and stories since first grade, and loves reading about everything from film analysis to psychology. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Sierra Nevada Review, and The Lascaux Review. Julia is passionate about realism and diversity in teen literature. She hopes to one day own a French bulldog, pug, Boston terrier, or perhaps a mix of all three.

I had a few false starts and half-finished manuscripts before I wrote BURRO HILLS, but it was the first novel I ever actually finished. I started it around 2012, when I was a graduating senior in college. After losing my full-time office job in early 2015, I enrolled in an MFA program and made it my mission to finish the book (which was, at the time, a series of disorganized vignettes) and find an agent. Little did I know, the manuscript needed a lot of work, which I would learn the hard way in the query and beta/critique partner trenches. I began querying agents in March 2015, and after a handful of partials, fulls, and dozens and dozens of rejections (I think I queried well over 100 agents and a few small presses), Saritza Hernandez contacted me and begged for the full. She read it quickly and offered representation within a week or so. I had a few fulls out at the time, but I ultimately decided to go with her because she was so passionate about the book and my writing. We did some deep-dive revisions, involving cutting one of the two POVs and narrowing it down to one. It took us about four months. When we went on submission, it was quite long and harrowing. I was terrified all of the time and had trouble going into bookstores, as it was a very visual reminder that I might not get published. (This was also hard for me, as I love bookstores). I wanted it more than anything in the world and I was braced for the worst possible scenario. But after eight months but we finally got a very enthusiastic offer from Diversion Books in November 2016, and in February 2017, I signed a contract with them and became an official debut author!

I’m currently serving as a writing mentor for Girls Write Now, New York City’s premiere writing program exclusively for high school girls. I absolutely love it! I’m starting my second year this fall as a mentor, and am excited to meet my new mentee. My previous mentee and I spent a lot of time writing poems together, doing revisions, and just coming up with story ideas and chatting about the wackiest types of love triangles. We developed a very close relationship and trust in each other, and I let her read and give feedback on my work as well, which I believe is essential to developing a strong writing relationship.

I recently completed an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School, where I studied with authors like David Levithan, Coe Booth (who was my thesis advisor, she’s awesome), Ann Hood, and an incredible cohort that has become like family to me. We still actively read and critique and give notes on each other’s work (and queries). I have a lot of experience giving detailed and balanced critique that, according to my former classmates, never feels too critical or too flattering. I also have years of experience working as a beta reader and critique partner, as well as helping people edit and revise their queries at forums like AbsoluteWrite and AgentQueryConnect, and it’s become very fun for me! Queries are like a concept puzzle, and I relish finding the right hook and way “in” to a story. As an added bonus, I have a lot of random knowledge about the short story market.

Besides writing, there’s honestly nothing more satisfying and rewarding to me than working with a fellow writer on their own work, sharing excitement with them about storytelling and prose and language and various plot threads. I have tons of ideas and enthusiasm and am always eager to help in any way I can. Plus, mentoring makes me feel more involved and connected to the greater writing/YA community. I hope to bring my wisdom and experience to the table in a way that kickstarts someone’s career!

I’m so excited to find gritty, realistic contemporaries, LGBTQ+ stories, thrillers, mysteries, magical realism, and most importantly, a strong voice and compelling writing style.

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Romance
  • Horror

I am most drawn to literary YA with a strong and compelling voice within contemporary, magical realism, thrillers and horrors, creepy cult stories, social commentary and/or satire, and LGBTQ+ sub-genres…among much else!


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat
  • Meet in person (if they live in the area and want to)

My mentoring style is easy-going, laid-back and open-ended. Ideally we’d have an open line of communication and work realistically within each other’s schedules. I’m willing to try whatever method of critique or workshopping that my mentee is most comfortable with.

My ideal mentee is friendly, eager to learn, up for a challenge, and deeply passionate about the story they are telling and the world they’ve created.

I’d love to find a manuscript that has any or all of the following…

  • A story that, at its core, is emotionally honest and resonant, even if the world itself is fantastical or has elements of magical realism
  • An evocative, literary writing style and a strong voice
  • LGBTQ+ characters and a diverse cast
  • Give me your gritty, your dark, and your edgy!
  • Unique, unlikely friendships and love stories that bookshelves desperately need more of
  • Rebels and misfits
  • Bizarre situations and circumstances
  • Philosophical characters and thought-provoking stories
  • Complex family dynamics
  • Creepy, chilling stuff that will give me nightmares
  • Please do give me your R-rated YA rife with drugs, alcohol, and sex! If you think it’s too intense for some, I promise it won’t be too intense for me.
  • Strong descriptive language and a really fleshed-out world (this applies to contemporary worlds as well)

Here a few tropes and such that I’m not particularly fond of (though by all means, don’t let them stop you from sending me something if you think it really works in your story):

  • Casts that are exclusively white, straight, and heteronormative
  • The Libby (stereotypical blonde, rich cheerleader mean girls written without depth or nuance)
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girls (unless the trope is inverted in a clever way)
  • Nice Guys and “unrequited love” that borders on being creepy
  • Unqualified Protagonist Succeeding Above Overly Qualified Supporting Characters
  • Bland Best Friends without an identity of their own
  • Unrealistic and/or cheesy “teen dialogue”
  • Moralistic storytelling that feels very After-School Special

(TV) Skins, Twin Peaks, Breaking Bad, Queer as Folk, Misfits, True Detective (S1), Black Mirror, Orange is the New Black

(MOVIES) Boogie Nights, Mulholland Drive, Ghost World, The Godfather, The Shining, Pulp Fiction, Bonnie and Clyde, Inglourious Basterds, Pleasantville, Thelma & Louise, Spring Breakers, The Silence of the Lambs, American Beauty

(BOOKS – General) The Summer That Melted Everything, Mysterious Skin, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, White Oleander, 1984, The Virgin Suicides, Lolita, The Bad Seed, A Song of Ice & Fire

(BOOKS – YA) Speak, Wintergirls, Catalyst, Little Chicago, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, We Are the Ants, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, What Girls Are Made Of, Clean, Tell Me Something Real, Like Mandarin, Bone Gap