Meet Paul Stevens, Agent at Donald Maass Literary Agency
We are pleased to have Paul Stevens with us at the 2018 Pennwriters Conference. Paul will be leading the workshop “Publishing by the Numbers” and participating in pitch appointments, the agent/editor panel discussion, and the Friday evening read & critiques.
Paul is looking for science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, suspense, and humorous fiction. He’s looking for strong stories with interesting characters. Well-rounded LGBT characters and characters of color are a plus.
Pennwriters: What advice do you have for writers?
Paul: There’s no need to front-load your novel with information, such as the characters’ bios. That info can, and should, be worked in on an as-needed basis. Okay, so that means that the reader may not understand everything that’s going on in the first couple pages — that’s actually good. Readers are smart. If they don’t understand everything that’s going on, they trust that the author is going to give them that info and explain everything as the story goes on.
Pennwriters: How should a writer evaluate an agent?
Paul: Before signing with an agent, the writer should ask lots of questions. The writer should have a clear sense of how the agent works, what the agent’s plans for you book(s) are, and how things are handled if you and the agent part ways. Ask to speak to a few of the agent’s clients. And don’t feel like you have to sign with them right away. Take a day or two and sleep on it. Come back with more questions, if you think of any. Remember, at the end of the day, the agent works for you. You want to feel comfortable and confident with this choice. If there are any doubts or uneasy feelings, don’t sign with that agent until you’ve had a chance to get answers.
Pennwriters: What are some books that have made a vivid and lasting impression on you?
Paul: This is challenging to answer without simply creating a list of books that I’ve worked on over the years, but let’s give it a shot.
* Anne McCaffrey — Her Dragonriders of Pern books were lifesavers during my teen years. I’m now going back and re-reading her short fiction, and she can really tell a great story. “A Proper Santa Claus” is heartbreaking.
* The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe — I read this as a submission at Tor. Even months later I just couldn’t stop thinking about the book. Alex just finished his last novel in this series, and it was bittersweet to say goodbye to these characters.
* The Last Page by Anthony Huso — Another book that I acquired at Tor. I’ve read it at least 6 times now, and I keep going back to it and finding more and more fascinating details. This book (and its sequel, Black Bottle) is something that people should be reading and rereading.
* Vicious by VE Schwab — Such a good book. The author weaves together a plot with multiple points of view and multiple time lines, and it all comes to a perfect conclusion.
* Hex by Thomas Olde Huevelt — I can’t state how amazing this book is. It starts out creepy and kinda funny, but it builds to an intense, horrifying, and inevitable climax.
To register for The Pennwriters Conference, visit:
Online registration ends May 15th, 2018 at midnight. Onsite registrations taken after that date.
All meal options end May 9th, 2018 at midnight.