Today's Featured Writefest Speaker is Kurestin Armada, a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency. While Kurestin has a wide range of interests such as upmarket and commercial fiction, LGBTQ, graphic novels, romance and more, she has a particular affection for science fiction and fantasy, especially those that subvert genre tropes.
What book/story/poem have you read recently that you’re really excited about?
I suppose it would be cheating to name a client book! It can be hard to squeeze in “fun” reading these days, but the line of novellas from Tor.com has been truly excellent for something I can easily knock out over my morning tea. Recently I finished RIOT BABY by Tochi Onyebuchi, which is in that novella line.
It’s about a pair of siblings who have this enormous psychic power, while dealing with the brutal effects of racism in their community and in the prison system. It ends up being a story full of a very interesting kind of hope that springs from anger, and from refusal to continue to accept injustice, along with just being a very cool story from a speculative standpoint. I highly recommend it, along with the other novellas in that line!
What would you tell your younger (15-year-old) self?
To appreciate all that free time I had! I like to think I didn’t entirely waste it, but looking back, I would have spent even more time reading and consuming all sorts of art and media while I still had the time for it. The works I did engage with have given me such a useful sense of taste and appreciation for current works, and I can only imagine the effect it would have to be able to double the works in my memory banks.
What advice would you give to new writers just starting to write their first book?
I think it’s essential to lean into the things that really excite you about your book, and about writing in general. Don’t worry about the marketplace right now—of course, you should certainly be reading widely in your genre and be aware of the conversations that are happening, which will have a natural effect on your work, but don’t try to write something with an eye toward filling a trend. Partly because you’re likely to be too late by the time it gets written/revised/repped/bought/revised again/published, and partly because without a certain amount of joy and fun on your part in the writing process, the book will be lifeless. I can fix a lot of things in a book, but I can’t edit in a lack of joy—that’s the magic spark that makes it all work, and what makes your work uniquely yours.