Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Adrian Shirk of Drift(less) Literary

Adrian Shirk is an agent at Drift(less) Literary.

She brings over ten years of experience as an author, editor and career mentor to dozens of emerging writers. She has two books of creative nonfiction, And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Stories from the Byways of American Women and Religion, and Heaven is a Place on Earth: Searching for an American Utopia, both from Counterpoint Press. Her essays have otherwise appeared in The Atlantic, Lit Hub, and others, as well as Catapult, where she was previously a columnist and regular contributor. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wyoming, and worked as an editor at Wilder Quarterly, as well as the erstwhile small press The Corresponding Society and its biannual journal Correspondence. Most recently, in addition to working with clients and developing manuscripts for Drift(less), she teaches in the BFA Creative Writing Program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, serving as the Writing Lives Advisor and Internship Coordinator. She lives in the Catskills, where she helps run a cooperative artists’ residency called The Mutual Aid Society.

She is seeking: I represent long-form literary fiction (novels, novellas, autofiction, or linked short stories) and first person-driven narrative nonfiction (memoir, essay collections, reportage, special areas of research where the author is present in the text, e.g. not objective or scholarly). I also consider self-help or how-to books on subjects in which the author has had a significant amount of personal or professional experience. I’m especially interested in working with under-represented voices and stories, especially women and nonbinary folks, working class authors (or authors with working class backgrounds), LGBTQ+, and writers of color. I occasionally consider some genre (horror) or speculative fiction (sci-fi), but only if the stories and themes are somewhat socially-engaged (think, Octavia Butler, Ursula Leguin, Margaret Atwood).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Eve Adler of Red Fox Literary

Eve Adler is a literary agent at Red Fox Literary.

I’m an agent at Red Fox Literary, where I represent board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books. Prior to joining Red Fox, I held editorial positions at Macmillan, Penguin, and Union Square Kids. I’ve worked on a variety of formats, series, and publishing programs, including bestsellers and award-winning titles such as Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch, the Hello, World board book series by Ashley Evanson, and The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl.

“I’m actively building my list, and welcome submissions in the 0-12 age range, especially from author-illustrators. I’m drawn to stories that make kids feel comforted, loved, and understood; to diverse voices; to ideas that break the mold; to projects that meet kids where they are developmentally; and to books that expand kids’ worlds while helping them understand their own.

What I’m looking for: I’m seeking projects for ages 0-12 that elicit strong emotions—I love manuscripts and dummies that give me goosebumps.

Please note that I do not represent YA or adult books, and I’m not interested in fantasy, horror, or sci-fi.

Here are more specifics for my wish list:

Board books: I’d love to find board books on the artsy side, whether they explore simple concepts or more involved topics (while still being appropriate for the audience, of course). I’m particularly eager to find artists who might not have considered children’s books before. The board book space keeps evolving, and there’s always room for innovation! I’m also interested in character and story themed board books. Some examples are The Hair Book and the Bear & Penguin series.

Picture books:

–Kid-friendly mental health themes: I’m always on the lookout for stories that tackle issues kids deal with, like anxiety, burnout, perfectionism, feeling shy, scared, nervous, etc., and help them deal with these feelings. For example: What If, Pig? about anxiety, and Trying, about self-doubt.

–Cultural themes: I love books that address kids’ experiences with their cultural heritage, like Where Three Oceans Meet and Ten Ways to Hear Snow.

–Biographies: I can’t get enough of picture book biographies! I love learning about inspiring people who have impacted our world. Some favorites are Before John Was a Jazz Giant, The Tree Lady, Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando, and Shark Lady.

–Humor: there’s always a need for humor-filled picture books! I like stories that have substance, and offer something in addition to a good laugh. Some favorites are the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series and the Elephant & Piggy books.

–Holiday books: I’m interested in books that broach holidays in original and/or sweet ways, such as The Tooth Fairy vs. Santa and Bunny with a Big Heart. I’m also looking for books about lesser-known holidays.

–Jewish-themed books: I’m eager to find Jewish-themed books that are fun and relatable to kids, and have universal themes like The Ninth Night of Hanukkah. I’m interested in books that explore tougher topics, too, as long as they’re done in an innovative, striking ways. –Nonfiction: I enjoy nonfiction that’s approached in a relatable, kid-friendly way like If You Had Your Birthday on the Moon and The Great Water Cycle Adventure.

Chapter books: I’m interested in simple, short stories aimed at ages 5-8, and longer, and more involved stories aimed at ages 7-10. I’d love to see graphic novels for this age range, too! Here are some themes I’m interested in:

–Funny/Silly: the wackier the better! Some favorites are Kung-Pow Chicken and Pea, Bee, & Jay. –Adventure/Mystery: I love stories that push adventure and/or mystery to the brink, like CatStronauts.

–Friendship or books based on one character: these resonate when done well. Some examples are Fox & Chick, Boris, and Yasmin.

Middle grade:

–Historical fiction: I have a sweet spot for books that make a historical time period come to life for kids. Some favorites are Letters from Rifka and How to Find What You’re Not Looking For.

–Powerful family/friendship stories like the Alice books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and graphic novels like Roller Girl.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Shannon Lechon of Azantian Literary Agency

Shannon Lechon is a literary agent with Azantian Literary Agency.

She began her career with literary agency internships at P.S. Literary and Cake Creative, as well as an editorial internship with Penguin Random House. She holds dual bachelor’s degrees in criminology and English from Florida State University and a master’s in publishing from New York University.


In middle grade, Shannon is looking for spooky stories only. That includes mysteries that feel equal parts campy and creepy in the vein of Scooby-Doo, but also horror like Coraline or City of Ghosts. A sense of humor in both voice and narrative style is always appreciated. Speculative elements are welcome but not necessary; she’s mainly looking for a great voice and atmosphere.


In young adult, she is mostly interested in stories with a speculative element, but is always on the lookout for a creative or original mystery. Dark, gothic fantasy or horror like What Big Teeth and The Taking of Jake Livingston is well-loved, as well as morally gray or antihero protagonists like Girl, Serpent, Thorn or The Curse Workers series. For science-fiction, she is looking for stories that call attention to existing issues like Rise of The Red Hand; superhero narratives like Renegades will also catch her eye. Expansive worldbuilding, with lands that feel real and fleshed-out histories, will pull her into the narrative. She is also looking for mystery/thrillers with original and spunky voices and/or setting as character. The ability to juggle large, quirky casts like Truly Devious or Danganronpa is important to her. A young adult Knives Out would be a dream. Books that explore the difficulty of making the right choice and have main characters make selfish decisions will have them hooked.


In adult, she is looking for literary books with a speculative element like Bestiary and The Tiger’s Wife that feel lush and magically possible, like new worlds exist just on the periphery of our vision. Books that combine fantasy with societal inequalities are high on their list of interests: Ring Shout and Mexican Gothic are prime examples. She is looking for science fantasy manuscripts like Middlegame that blur the line between magic and science and make us think about how far we can push the boundaries of our reality. She is particularly interested in sci-fi narratives that show a more positive side to technology, an anti-Black Mirror. She is also interested in manuscripts that incorporate elements of myth, especially if they are from underrepresented cultures or give voice to figures often forgotten; think The Wolf and the Woodsman and Daughter of the Moon Goddess. She is looking for mysteries and thrillers with the cinematic feel of My Sister, the Serial Killer and is constantly chasing the vibe of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. She is open to mysteries/thrillers with a light speculative element, such as The 7½ Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle. Speculative horror is a massive favorite of hers, anything from Ninth House to Manhunt. While she is not generally looking for romance, she is looking for romantic fantasy like A Marvellous Light.


For graphic novels, Shannon is looking for young adult fantasy that is grounded in our world like Hotel Dare and The Backstagers, ones that focus on found families, platonic relationships, and the power of friendship. Graphic novels are the only place Shannon is looking for general fiction submissions, particularly ones that deal with the complexity of identity like The Prince and the Dressmaker. She is also searching for adult personal nonfiction narratives about identity or mental health, like My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. Lush and intricate art like Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me will always get their attention. Right now, she is only interested in taking on author/illustrators.


She is interested in select adult nonfiction proposals. She’s looking for memoirs about specialized careers and experiences like In the Dream House and Honey and Venom, as well as proposals on medicine, trauma, wildlife, nature, and mental health, such as The Sleeping Beauties and What My Bones Know. Readability and accessibility for the average reader is a must.


For more specific tropes, she’s interested in experimental styles and unreliable narrators. She is forever interested in the narrative gaslighting of Harrow the Ninth. Intense platonic interpersonal bonds are a particular favorite of hers; give her the physical manifestation of love à la Pacific Rim and she will be very happy. She likes underexplored magic systems and fantasy that doesn’t care if you understand it or not, like Gingerbread or The Starless Sea.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ismita Hussain of Great Dog Literary

Ismita Hussain is a literary agent with Great Dog Literary.

“I am seeking literary fiction, health-related non-fiction, YA, and short story collections. Some of my favorite authors are Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Oscar Wilde, and Tom Perrotta. I am especially drawn to fiction with a Southern setting, gritty realist writing, and any books that explore health or disability. Ultimately though, I’m a sucker for writing with a great sense of humor.”

A Little More About What I’m Looking For:

– Satire, and humorous fiction that comes with a message or reveals a truth about people/society

– Retellings of classic stories that haven’t been redone to death and that provide a twist or a fresh new take

– Narrative nonfiction that discusses medicine or health in a way that is accessible and well researched

– Nonfiction that makes the reader see their body in a different way

– Cookbooks that explore a niche ingredient/theme and cookbooks that tell a story

– Quirky and visually stunning coffee table books

Fun facts about me:

“I am a Georgia native and graduate of Emory University, where I studied Human Health and Italian. During college, I also worked for various Atlanta area hospitals in departments ranging from neonatal to geriatric care. In my Desi household, I grew up speaking Bangla, Hindi, and Urdu.”