Rena Rossner

YA Horror/Thriller

On Submission

Ryan Douglass is a freelance writer and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2016 with BAs in Theatre and Creative Writing. His opinion pieces on social politics have appeared in The Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism and Atlanta Black Star, among others. He’s represented by Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency and is committed to creating and championing diverse narratives in YA publishing.

I wrote and queried my first manuscript when I was twelve. The only house that requested it turned out to be a vanity publisher, so I shelved that and wrote a new one at 15. I self-published it and my sales were not what I wanted them to be. In college I decided to try for traditional publishing again and wrote a YA sci-fi novel that got me a handful of requests, but still no offer.

I failed with my early projects because I wasn’t ready yet. My first three books were all, to some degree, B-grade replicas of books I loved as a kid. I was writing everything I’d already seen rather than what I hadn’t seen, which were the unique things only I could say to the world. Once I wrote the book of my heart, I sent out 20 or so queries and got six full requests and five requests for a partial. I signed with my agent two months after sending the first query and went on submission for the first time last summer.

I went to school for Creative Writing. A big part of my college experience was centered on critique circles. Those critique circles are home to me. I was an active member on agentqueryconnect.com when I was querying, giving and receiving feedback. I’ve helped folks over there edit their queries and land agents. They’ve helped me in return. I regularly give query critiques to writers through Twitter.

I’m looking mostly for #ownvoices stories. Send me Black/Latinx/Asian/Native/Muslim/LGBTQIA+ and intersectional MCs. I’m all about gays and people of color. The character’s marginalization doesn’t have to be a focal point in the story. I’m really hoping for a unique, creepy horror or a contemporary with a speculative twist.

I think it’s important for writers who’ve gotten their foot in the door to reach back and lend a helping hand to those who are still trying. I know how tricky and frustrating it is to succeed as a PoC or LGBTQIA+ person. I value your stories, I want to encourage them in their boldness and authenticity and ultimately help them succeed!

  • Contemporary
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror

In horror, I prefer creepy, psychological horror to blood and guts, but I also like gore when it’s there for a reason. I love character-driven, disturbing thrillers, and I think we need more of those in YA. Something in the vein of “My Sister Rosa” by Justine Larbalestier, or Gillian Flynn’s work. I’m into the supernatural (ghosts, ghouls, zombies, demons, werewolves, etc.). I love reading about monsters that aren’t commonly seen or that are re-imagined in cool ways.

My contemporary tastes veer toward rarely seen settings told from rarely heard perspectives. I love light, humorous stories but I also love issue books that tackle hard topics. Send me everything edgy and dark. In fantasy, I prefer urban fantasy. I would love something like the Percy Jackson books or Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper Cypher. I like sci-fi as long as it’s centered on characters rather than technology. I’m a big fan of Alex London’s “Proxy.” I’m not a big fan of sword and sorcery or romance (unless it’s a love story set in a different genre).


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

I prefer to give big picture feedback along with line edits on things that stick out to me for whatever reason. My Twitter DMs are open and so is my cell phone if you prefer to text or talk on the phone!

My ideal mentee shares my love for humor, darkness, and the em dash. They know how to take honest feedback and fight for the integrity and beating heart of their work if I suggest a change that doesn’t seem right for their vision. They’ve written the book of their heart and worked hard at it. I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me, and they’re willing to become awesome friends.


  • A dark, creepy, disturbing horror that will keep me up at night.
  • A thriller set in an unassuming captive environment where things go haywire (e.g. an elevator, grocery store, school gym on prom night, etc.)
  • Stories led by Black, Latinx, Asian, Native, Muslim, LGBTQIA+ people and especially intersectional MCs. These stories do not have to be contemporary! I’d love to see marginalized people in speculative fiction or stories where their marginalization is not necessarily “the point.”
  • Fast-paced, clearly written narratives that would appeal to boys, young men, and reluctant readers.
  • Textured stories set in countries other than the U.S.
  • Laugh-out-loud, light, funny contemporary with voice.
  • Unique monsters, ones we don’t see very often in pop culture, or unique takes on monsters we do see a lot.
  • Stories about dysfunctional family dynamics, especially sibling relationships.
  • A ragtag group of young superheroes, spies or regular kids who are thrust into heroism.
  • MCs who break stereotypes just by being who they are.
  • Stories that aren’t afraid to look at sex and/or gay sex.
  • Flawed but relatable anti-heroes.


  • I’m not into straight up romance. Romantic sci-fi and romantic contemporary are okay. I prefer slow-burn love stories to insta-love.
  • I don’t like hard fantasy or hard sci-fi. Super intricate fantasy worlds and complicated technology tend to lose me.
  • No vampires unless they’re evil.
  • Non-fiction is a hard sell for me unless it’s hilarious.
  • Not typically into stories about sports.

Books: The Hate U Give, More Happy Than Not, Dear Martin, When I Was the Greatest, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Everlost, Unwind, Harry Potter (Deathly Hallows is my favorite), The Troop, Invisible Monsters, Acceleration, And Then There Were None, Full Filt. I have too many favorite authors to name.

Movies: The Incredibles, The Conjuring, How to Train Your Dragon, Oculus, Kick-Ass, Little Miss Sunshine, Get Out, Battle Royale, Monster House, Mulan.

TV shows: CHEWING GUM IS THE BEST SHOW EVER MADE. I’ve also enjoyed Game of Thrones, Insecure, Black Mirror, Shameless, Dear White People, Parenthood and Orphan Black.