With a client line-up that boasts all-stars such as Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo, literary agent Joanna Volpe has proven herself to be a star talent scout and a die-hard YA enthusiast.
Volpe reads across all genres, but she continues to find herself drawn back to the promise and possibility within YA. Her passion doesn’t come from the exciting market potential – Volpe was an avid reader of YA long before “it was in vogue to be so.”
“In YA, I find that people are more open to exploration: different styles, innovative ideas, commercial packaging, dark and literary, and so on. I’d love to see more of the literary titles gain some traction with the mainstream audience, but isn’t that always the case? And as a literary agent, I get to be part of making that happen. I really do love my job.”
Volpe is the head of New Leaf Literary & Media, a boutique agency that launched in June of 2012. They handle their foreign and film rights in-house, which allows the team to take each of their projects on in a global way right from start to finish.
This year, New Leaf Literary & Media watched as multiple clients hit the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list. Veronica Roth’s Divergent became the first movie to be adapted from their agency in March and opened the way for new year’s movies – Insurgent in March and Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF in February.
“You’ll be seeing more from our [other]already established YA authors, too, such as Susan Dennard and Leigh Bardugo. Overall, we have a pretty incredible list of YA authors,” said Volpe.
While Volpe takes pride in her most successful stories, she’s always looking forward to debut novelists. There’s Alexis Bass’ Love & Other Theories, which releases from HarperCollins in January 2015; Victoria Aveyard’s The Red Queen, which releases from HarperColins in February 2015; Virgina Boecker’s The Witch Hunter, which releases from Little, Brown in June 2015; and Amy Lukavics’ Daughters Unto Devils, which releases from Harlequin Teen in October 2015.
Despite the impressive list, Volpe is still open to submissions, though she wants to avoid anything that competes with her personal list.
“Right now I’d love to see more in the high fantasy realm, in horror, in contemporary fiction, and overall, I’d love to see more literary work. I like my books to have a dark edge to them most of the time, no matter what the specific genre.”
A dark edge like Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, an upcoming 2015 anthology that came from the brain of client April Tulcholke.
“I love horror, and we have a killer line-up of authors that includes Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, and Carrie Ryan,” said Volpe. “I will be giving everyone who likes the creeptastic a copy of that for sure. Love, love, love.”
Outside of the agency, Volpe avoids the dark edges. She loves to hang out with her husband and Tough Guy, her Chihuahua – who can both can make her laugh for hours.
“I grew up in a movie theater, so going to the movies is like going to my second home,” confessed Volpe. “I like playing video games, though I don’t have as much time to anymore. And I’m also big into board games with friends. Travel and cooking, too, for sure. I am not a good baker though. Too precise for me!”