Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Hannah VanVels of Belcastro Agency

Hannah VanVels is a literary with Belcastro Agency.

She is seeking:

“First and foremost, I’m building an inclusive list with a variety of voices and genres. I love working with #OwnVoices authors, and I’m looking for voices from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, regardless of genre.

In a nutshell, I am looking for fresh voices and fresh takes in the following categories:

Picture Books

  • Funny and quirky books!
  • I’m a sucker for puns and clever rhymes. Kids want to laugh, and I do too!
  • Family
  • Cultural and family traditions and how they shape us
  • Celebrating the messiness and complexity of family
  • Creative books that pique curiosity and imagination
  • Think Ish or The Book with No Pictures
  • Author/illustrators

Middle Grade

  • Fantasy — Give me a story with a magical school where the MC is a POC. Something with humor and heart and, of course, magic! Stories inspired by myths, folklore, or legends, particularly those that are non-western in origin
  • Adventure — I would love to find a MG version of The Mummy (the Brendan Frasier version, of course). Characters that are on the spectrum, but their story is not centered on that; it’s just who they are. Because characters on the spectrum can fight dragons and save the world too!
  • Horror or paranormal. Give me the ghosts, creepy crawlies, and witches.
  • Animals. I’m a giant animal lover and a total sucker for beautiful emotional stories that involve animals like Pax and The One and Only Ivan

Young Adult

  • Fantasy. My first love is character-driven fantasy (urban, contemporary, high—all of it!). A new retelling of an old trope? A mythical setting inspired by a non-European culture? A reluctant hero who inevitably shouts, “I never asked for any of this!”? Sign me up! I’m looking for strong world-building, strange magic, empathetic villains, morally gray heroes, and subversive fantasy tropes.
  • Thrillers/horror/paranormal. Creeptastic thrillers with a tightly-knit, well-paced plot, clever and nuanced characters, and a twist that readers will never see coming. I generally steer clear of excessive on-page violence. Ghosts, vampires, witches, and the otherwise macabre are very much welcome in my inbox
  • Contemporary. High concept contemporary fiction aimed at all genders. Bonus points if it makes me laugh and/or cry. Evergreen themes: self-love, coming-of-age, girls supporting girls, friendship and friendship breakups, and slow-burn romances. Topical contemporary fiction addressing real issues that teens face
  • Science Fiction. Accessible science fiction. Think Star Wars or superhero movies. I’m looking for a strong grounded story in which you do not need to understand the ins and outs of time travel and quantum physics in order to follow along
  • Young YA. Fiction aimed at younger YA audiences to fill the space where MG ends and traditional YA begins. Great writing is a must. Great character development and an unforgettable voice really drive it home

New Adult/Adult

  • Horror. Dark and devious stories like Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House. Paranormal aspects welcome! Stories that are gothic and witchy.
  • Fantasy. The key for adult fantasy for me is accessibility and intrigue. More Patrick Rothfuss than J.R.R. Tolkien. I am not a good fit for epic fantasy. I’m looking for a well-developed world and magic system with very real stakes. Bonus points if your MC isn’t the typical “Chosen One”
  • Commercial women’s fiction and chick lit. I’m particularly interested in the adventures of twenty-something women navigating the start of professional life after college. Think a slightly younger version of Sex and the City
  • Romantic comedies! A story that will make me laugh and swoon at the same time

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