“I find it really exciting that writers who have, in the past, been disenfranchised for being too experimental are now being published by some of the largest companies in the industry. It’s finally time for those voices to be given the attention they deserve.” -Aemilia Phillips, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings 20-25 literary agents and book editors to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 29th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 24 – 26, 2022, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our visiting agents and editors here.
An Interview with Aemilia Phillips
Aemilia Phillips joined Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency after completing the Columbia University Publishing Course. She graduated from Harvard University with honors, and is putting her English degree to good use in the world of publishing, working with a range of fiction and non-fiction writers. She’s particularly interested in writers who push conventional boundaries in order to address cultural, political, and social justice issues. With family on both sides of the Mexican border and interests in journalism, narrative non-fiction, literary fiction, and select poetry, she looks for diverse, smart writing with an impactful story to tell. For non-fiction she’s looking for driven, obsessed writers and topics that challenge the way we think about the world, with a particular interest in Latin American and feminist voices. She loves books that at first glance appear to be commercial, but that are also smart cultural critiques that force readers to examine new viewpoints. She’s fascinated by darker, complex fictional characters who upend preconceptions, stories with just a touch of magic, and novels that allow her to step into someone else’s shoes.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Aemilia Phillips: I take a very collaborative, editorial approach to working with my authors. From conception of an idea to drafting, drafting, drafting, I work best with writers who are open to throwing around crazy ideas in order to create the strongest proposal or manuscript.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
AP: I look for authors who are addressing some aspect of the cultural, political moment that we’re living in. I’m open to a wide range of genres — from speculative, literary fiction to poetry to investigative journalism. But what I’m most looking for in an author is someone who will surprise the reader, and make them question and look at the world in an entirely new light.
Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you find yourself giving to others time and time again?
AP: I work with many female and Latinx authors, and the one piece of advice I find myself giving time and time again is that the writers know their audience the best. Don’t be afraid to speak up, to question your publishing team, to be creative with marketing and publicity so that your book reaches the audience you most want it to reach, especially if that audience has been traditionally pushed to the margins.
Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?
AP: I love seeing how receptive the industry is becoming to works that cross genres. From researched poetry to blended memoir, I find it really exciting that writers who have, in the past, been disenfranchised for being too experimental are now being published by some of the largest companies in the industry. It’s finally time for those voices to be given the attention they deserve.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and you want everyone to know about?
AP: I’m so excited for Lizz Huerta’s THE LOST DREAMER, which will be published on March 1, 2022. Lizz’s debut YA fantasy is set in an ancient Mesoamerican city. A lineage of women seers, who have the ability to Dream what the future may hold, come under threat as the new king rises to power and resents that only they hold this ability. Though this is a fantasy, themes of sisterhood and the dangers of patriarchal power resonate with our own world. It’s an amazing adventure!
Click here for more information on the 2022 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.