Monday, March 28, 2011

Interview with Agent Kathleen Rushall of Waterside Productions

So today I bring you, guys, another interview with an agent! And I’m really happy to say that my last interview generated at least three requests, since these people met the last agent through Love YA.  Woot!  (I could do this every day, you know?)

Our guest today is Kathleen Rushall! *applauds*
Kathleen is pioneering the children’s and young adult literature list at Waterside Productions, Inc. She looks forward to garnering fresh voices, strong narratives, and whimsical tales in all areas of young adult literature.

UPDATE: Kathleen recently joined the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. And she still is looking for YA, MG, and select picture books!

 1. How did you become an agent, and when did you start building your own client list?

 First of all – thank you so much for offering to interview me for Love YA. I’m so excited to appear here, where YA fans unite!

I began building my own client list this year, but becoming an agent feels like it’s been a lifelong progression. I’ve always had a passion for young adult literature and wanted to work with books. Basically, I knew I needed a career that would justify lurking in the teen section of Barnes & Noble at any age! My interest in YA literature led me to SDSU’s outstanding children’s literature program, where I earned my master’s in English with a specialization in children’s literature. 

While I was in the program for the MA, I interned at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, which whet my appetite and introduced me to the world of publishing. My experience with Waterside Productions has given me a stellar introduction to the world of nonfiction books, and has also allowed me to stick with my passion for YA and MG.  So, I’m going to be representing both. I will be focusing on YA, MG and select picture books and nonfiction titles.

And I’m so happy to have you here, on Love YA, too! Thanks so much for doing this!

2. What genres are you looking for right now?  Would you rather represent a commercial book like Twilight or a more literary one, like The Book Thief—or both?

Great question about literary vs. commercial! The truth is that I appreciate and am looking for both commercial and literary works. The world needs each of them. While I’m open to all young adult and middle grade fiction, I’m particularly interested in historical fiction, science fiction, edgy or dark mystery, magical realism (a la Alice Hoffman), and fantasy (I’m a big fan of Tamora Pierce). I’d love to find a well researched, captivating historical fiction that effortlessly transports the reader back in time, without having the setting detract from character development and plot. Two of my favorite historical fiction authors are Jennifer Donnelly and Diana Gabaldon. Donnelly’s The Tea Rose trilogy is phenomenal in its seamless presentation of 19th century life in London – you really feel like you are there, or that the author lived this firsthand. Gabaldon’s Outlander series does the same thing for 18th century Scotland, and while both of these examples are adult fiction – they have elements that I want to see in a YA book.  I recently read Alexandra Monir’s Timeless and I thought that was a vivid representation of the 1920’s with a fun plot.

I like edgy books of different ranges, and I like strong voices with subtle humor. Topics of particular interest to me include reincarnation, the occult, the supernatural (not in a zombie or vampire context, more psychic, or witchy, or fey), ghosts (a scary ghost story? yes, please), and psychology. I recently read and loved Kim Harrington’s Clarity – this is a great example of tying in the occult to everyday life, and a subtle use of humor and edge. I’m also interested in multicultural or boy POV middle grade and young adult fiction.
Of all elements, I’d say I’m most drawn to character complexity and development. 

For nonfiction, I’m interested in parenting, cooking, crafts, business, alternative medicine, women’s interest, humor, pop-culture, and some how-to.

3. What type of manuscript you definitely wouldn’t represent?

I’m not interested in science, technology, nature, religion, politics, or overtly spiritual self-help.

4.  Could you tell us about Waterside Productions, Inc. and your role as a full time agent there?

Certainly! Waterside Productions has been an agency since 1982. We were the first agency to represent a For Dummies book, which took off to be the Dummies series, running a gamut of nonfiction topics. We have also worked with Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch, Thom Hartmann, Victor Villasenor, and many other established spiritual, self-help, and business icons.

5.  Are you an editorial agent and a career builder agent, too?

Yes to both questions. Agenting is a partnership, and like any good relationship, we should have give and take. I want to be involved in the little things (from brainstorming to edits) and work toward the big things (long term career) with each of my authors. Finding new voices and helping to enhance, clarify, and present them to the world is important to me.  

 Now some questions about querying:

6. What’s the best way to query you?

The best way to query me is via email. For fiction, please send your query letter and up to 50 pages of sample material (as a Word or PDF attachment). For nonfiction, please send your query letter and an attachment of your proposal or two sample chapters (as a Word or PDF file). We have nonfiction proposal guidelines on our website, which can be found here
I can be reached at  

UPDATE: Stay tuned for Kathleen's new info to appear here soon:

7. How often does a query intrigue you enough to take a peek at the sample pages? And how often do those pages make you ask for more?

Hmmm, there isn’t really a typical answer for this. But I can say that I try to take a peek at sample pages for anything that even mildly sparks my interest.

8. Now this is something I loved to hear from agents when I was querying. Nowadays, how long (approximately) do you take to read a query and then a full?  Are you the no-answer-means-no type of agent?

Ay, again, the timing on this can really vary and can be related to outside factors, like my current workload. I try not to have queries for any longer than 4 weeks without giving an answer. And I can say that if the submission is addressed and personalized to me, I always answer.

Last question before the fast five: 
9. Can you tell us why writers would be thrilled to have you as their agent?

Because any project I offer to represent, I am thrilled to have as my author. I have the passion and, as a new agent, the time to devote to each project so that it receives the attention it deserves.

And now for fun:

Guilty pleasure?   Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. Also, I can’t say no to a cheese plate.
Dream vacation?  Anywhere in Ireland, Scotland, England, or Wales.
Your wish for 2011?  I really want a second dog - I love my Aussie.
Random fact about you that we probably don’t know?  I’m an astrology enthusiast!
Cookies or coffee?  After living in Seattle, coffee is the love of my life. I have cookies on the side, though.

Thank you Ms. Rushall for your answers and for your enthusiasm! And if you guys enjoyed “meeting” her, you can always follow her on Twitter (@KatRushall) to learn more about her.


  1. Awesome interview!
    She's SO getting a query from me :)
    Thanks Monica!

  2. Ah, she's from Seattle! I like her already! And yep, coffee is one of my greatest loves, too.

    Great interview, Moni!

  3. She had me at Tamora Pierce! I just so happen to have a novel about a female knight!

    Thank you, Monica! I will be sending out a query today.

  4. Thanks for the interview! She sounds great.

  5. I wanted to thank you for this interview. Ms. Rushall wasn't on my radar, but she sounds fantastic! She'll definitely be getting a query from me. :)

  6. An excellent interview ladies! Thanks for introducing us to her Monica! I wish my YA historical fantasy was ready to submit because she sounds perfect for it. It gives me motivation to get my editing done. Thank you!

  7. Multicultural boy POV for YA...yep, I'm sending her a query and sample pages. Thanks, Monica!

    My writer friends Lisa and Leslie bumped into an agent they thought I'd like at the writer's retreat in Temecula. I wonder if Kathleen's the one? I'll find out. :D

  8. These interviews are so helpful to those who are searching! You're awesome. I'll tweet to spread the word!!

  9. Thank you so much for this interview. It's so helpful for the agent search!

  10. Awesome interview! I also can't say no to a cheese plate. Le sigh.

  11. Go Kathleen! And, yes, she really is as awesome as she sounds here. ;)

  12. Kathleen is so cool! Great interview, Monica. Thanks for posting it!

  13. Great interview! Thanks for posting!

  14. Great interview! Kathleen, sounds like you are a fantastic agent. I'm a huge Gabaldon fan, too. :)

  15. Hi Jolene! Good luck with that query! :D

    Hey Jenny! Right, NOW I remember you live (lived?) in Seattle. :P

    Anne! YAY! Good luck with that novel with the female knight! Sounds interesting! <3

    Nicole! Hi! I think she's great too!

    Katy! YAY another query for Kathleen! You let me know if she requests! Good luck! And hoo boy, it seems she'll be getting a lot of queries!

    Heather! Hey there! YES! YOU GO FINISH that ms now! LOL. I can't wait for you to tell me you wrote the end on the last page! :D

    Julie! Hey! Yes, you let me know! Thanks.

    Lisa, thanks so much for spreading the word! You rock! <3

    Tracey, hey! I'm glad you think it was helpful. I LOVE feeling helpful.. um, well, maybe it's my ego who loves feeling helpful? LOL.

    Hey Kim, thanks! <3333

    Wendy! Come by and we'll eat cheese like mice! I <3 cheese too! LOL

    Seleste, thanks so much! :D

    Eliz, you've met her? That's so cool! And yep, she really sounds awesome!

    Jenn! Hi! Thanks so much! <3

    Carrie, you're very welcome! Glad you liked it! :D

  16. Hey Linda! Thanks for stopping by! :D HUGS, sistah!

  17. Oh boy, awesome! Love new agent interviews!

  18. Thanks for sharing, Monica! Kathleen sounds like an agent I should add to my list!

  19. Great interview, Monica! Thanks for introducing me to a new agent! Question: does she represent historical fiction for adults or only for YA? In my second novel (historical), the protagonist is 16, but I wouldn't call it YA. The subject is definitely for adults.


  20. Amazing interview! Thanks for posting!

  21. Great interview, Monica. Thanks for sharing. I just queried Kathleen with my boy POV, ghost element novel!

  22. Great interview. Also loved it when you asked from the point-of-view of the would-be author: why would a writer be thrilled to have Kathleen as an agent?

    *nods wisely, answering that question affirmatively*

  23. Thanks for the interview. I'll definitely be adding Kathleen to my list of agents to query.

  24. I'm almost to the point where I need to query, and I think I have a new agent to add to my list. My MS right now has two male P.O.V's and it's YA of course. My love. :)

    Wonderful interview,


  25. Hey Empress Awesome! I'm glad you love agent interviews! :D

    Hey Krista! I'm Happy you liked her! Good luck with those revisions!

    Hi Lorena! I think she does? Though it might be that it isn't her main focus?

    Hey Holly! <3 <3 <3 (You know I <3 U, don't you?)

    Erin! Hi! Oh that's great! I wish you luck with that query!! :D Kathleen said she had received some queries after this interview, and that she hoped to find something that she loved! ;)

    ChrisKelly! Hi! I'll tell my hubby you liked that question, because it was his idea! LOL.

    Hey Patti! YAY! I'm glad you liked her too! :D

    Hey Lauren! Thanks! And I'm happy we both share a love: YA. ;) If you're starting to query, you might want to know that I'll be doing a contest with some agents in April! I thought you might want a heads up. (Only YA, tho.)

  26. What a great interview. I'm going to be delving into your archives for more hidden gems!

  27. Fantastic interview. :)

  28. Thank you, Monica and Kathleen. Loved the interview. Yay, someone who sounds really cool to query. I'm so there for the dream vacation destinations.

  29. Donna, hi! LOL, my archives aren't that huge, since my blog is new, but I hope you like the other interview, too! In any case, good luck, and thx for stopping by!

    Hey Medeia! I'm so glad you liked it! :D

    Hey Leslie! YAY, so happy you loved it! Right, those dream vacation sound so tempting! lol.

  30. Great interview! Thanks for introducing me to a new agent; especially one who likes darker things and wants a scary ghost story. Just send off my query.

  31. Wow! What a great interview! I'm going to query her too - she sounds amazing! Thanks for this post Monica!

  32. Thanks for the great interview. :D

  33. Quinn and Alison!
    Good luck with that query! <3

    Stina! Hi! I'm glad you liked it :D

  34. Fantastic review. Very informative, I'll definitely be looking into Waterside. Thanks!

  35. Thanks dellaodell! I wish you luck!

  36. I just checked out their website as I thought I'd heard of nearly every literary agent accepting YA queries by now (having flogged my last book to death quite thoroughly).

    Maybe it's just me, but when I find grammatical errors on the front page of an agency's website I find it a bit off-putting.

    "Premiere" is the first showing.

    "Premier" is leading their field.

    I know it's nit-picky of me, but if they're going to judge me on the quality of my work I'd at least like to see them get it right in their own work.

  37. Hey Mark! Thanks for your comment!
    Oh I'm sorry about your last book, but I hope you get lucky with the next one.

    Um, so maybe it is that I'm not a native speaker, as some of you know, but I thought that premier and premiere could be synonyms when they are used as adjectives. In fact, I just looked it up on the dictionary and they both can mean, "Preceding all others in time."
    But then, I didn't read the whole sentence.

    Also, I don't know if this makes the difference to you, but Waterside has HUGE deals (like one-million-dollar deals), and I even know that one of their books has turned into a movie.

    I think that for me, that will do it, but I understand that everybody is different and if you don't feel like querying them it's totally up to you! I'm just trying to help you decide out here ;)

  38. I'm not saying I'd turn them down. I just have pet-peeves (like everyone I suppose) and using words incorrectly in a formal setting is one. At least they didn't say something like, "If your manuscript peaks our interest." That one gets me grinding my teeth for some reason.

    The sentence in question called them the 'premiere' agency for x type of material. By context it's obvious they meant 'premier'.

  39. LOL, sure! Everyone has pet-peeves! And I think that your "peaks" example would make me grind my teeth, too ;)

  40. Nice interview. I'm going to have to start tracking this blog!

  41. Great info! She seems like just the person I've been looking for. Query incoming!

  42. What an interesting interview. Thanks for posting! And to think, I heard through the grapevine earlier this year there was no interest in historical YA. It seems like there is. I would also love to see more of it as a reader.

  43. Awesome interview! She loves Tamora Pierce *swoon* yup, I shall be querying her at some point...she loves my favorite author!

  44. Hey June! I'm glad you liked the interview ;)

    Zach, good luck with the query!

    Stephsco, I also think there is. Plus what's not to love about a good historical YA? ;D

    Elizabeth, YAY! I hope she loves your ms as much as you two love Tamora Pierce!

  45. Oh, she loves Scotland... I just need to query her.

  46. Hey Cat! Awesome! Good luck with the query! And btw, we "met" at WriteOnCon, right?

  47. What a great interview! Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite authors, and Scotland is one of the most wonderful places I've had the privilege to visit. Working on my query letter now...

  48. Fantastic--Kathleen sounds right up my MG alley--esp with the Astrology confession. :) thanks for this delightful blog!