Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Laura Gruszka of Writers House

Laura Gruszka is a literary agent with Writers House.

“I’m looking for authors and illustrators of children’s books for all ages—picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels. I’m also open to adult graphic novels and adult literary fiction.

“My priority as a junior agent is uplifting traditionally underrepresented voices and stories in publishing. This applies to every category of books I am looking for. If you are a creator who is part of a marginalized community—regardless of whether you are specifically writing about identity—please send your work my way!

“For picture books, I have broad taste in stories, from all laughs to slice-of-life, though I tend to favor stories with an unforgettable main character, a strong voice, and a clear story arc. I love art with a voice—art with unmistakable style, energy, and heart. I’m especially fond of books whose pages invite young readers to discover new details and secrets upon each read (inspired by my own hours poring over Hilary Knight’s and Richard Scarry’s art). (And if you happen to be tuned to the same frequency in voice and humor as Adventure Time and Over the Garden Wall…send your work my way.)

“Some favorites artists and storytellers: Jillian Tamaki, Christian Robinson, Lian Cho, Corey R. Tabor, Jon Klassen, Matthew Forsythe, Júlia Sardà, Julie Benbassat, Lauren Castillo, Paola Escobar.

“In middle grade and young adult, the first thing I fall for is prose. Whether lyrical and lush or impeccably voicey, I’m looking for books whose lines are just as carefully crafted as their stories. I love all things magic, folklore, and wildly-imagined in any genre—particularly those that bend, defy, or reimagine genre conventions. I am open to submissions in verse, though I prefer verse that takes full stylistic advantage of the form (like LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech). In addition to genre, I’m equally drawn to quiet, meaningful everyday stories and unflinching looks at the difficulties of being a young person. I’m looking for that book that makes young readers see their world differently—perhaps more tenderly—when they put it down.

“Favorite MG: Anything by Tae Keller, TOO BRIGHT TO SEE by Kyle Lukoff, AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B. B. Alston, THE DOLDRUMS series by Nicholas Gannon, BLACK BIRD, BLUE ROAD by Sofia Pasternack, MOLLY MOON by Georgia Byng.

“Favorite YA: Anything by Deb Caletti, anything by Maggie Stiefvater, anything by Nina LaCour, SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson, DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram.

“For graphic novels and highly-illustrated MG, YA, and adult, I grew up on a steady diet of manga, which is where my art sensibilities tend to lie. My taste in children’s and adult literary books carry over into my GN taste, and I’m looking for everything from contemporary to genre to memoir. I’m not the best fit for art and stories in the superhero comic tradition.

“Josh Trujillo + Cara McGee + Brittany Peer + Gonçalo Lopes, Tillie Walden, Mariko Tamaki + Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Kate Beaton.

“Most of all, I’m eager to work with creators whose books will be life-changing to a young reader, whether it’s by finally seeing an authentic representation of their own experience, learning about a subject not discussed in their everyday life, or igniting their lifelong love for reading.

“When it comes to adult literary fiction, I’m looking for un-put-downable line-level writing and out-of-the-box thinking. In particular, I’d love to read more brainy, literary horror. I love writing that doesn’t shy away from the difficult, the unjust, and even the traumatic, as long as there is a kernel of heart—and hope—at their center. And I’m always game for the weird, the genre-bending, the oft-not-seen.

“Favorites: MONKEY BEACH by Eden Robinson; CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN by Sayaka Murata, FEVER DREAM by Samanta Schweblin, CRUDDY by Lynda Barry, IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M. L. Rio, and anything by Brian Evenson.
-Graphic novel submissions should include a detailed outline and sample artwork (like a thumbnailed chapter, a sample final page, or a portfolio).
-If you receive an offer of representation from another agent, please let me know immediately so I can ensure I review your work and respond before your deadline.
-Though my response time varies, I reply to all queries. If I have not responded within 8 weeks, feel free to check in (but not sooner).