Tricia Skinner, Associate Agent, Fuse Literary

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Associate Agent Tri­cia Skin­ner was raised in Detroit, Michigan. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the nationally acclaimed Journalism Institute for Media Diversity at Wayne State University and earned her graduate degree from Southern Methodist University.

Professionally, she began her writing career as a newspaper reporter and wrote for The Detroit NewsInvestor’s Business DailyMSN, and The Houston Chronicle. She’s covered small & minority business, personal finance, and technology.

Tricia has 20 years of experience working with the video game industry in various roles, including public relations, industry relations, and writing/editing. She is also a hybrid author of passionate urban fantasy (represented by Fuse co-founder Laurie McLean).

Diversity in genre fiction is dear to Tricia’s heart.  As an agent, Tricia wants to represent authors who reflect diversity and cultures in their work. The real world is not one nationality, ethnic group, or sexual orientation. She’s looking for talented writers who deeply understand that as well.

On the personal side, Tricia has a Tom Hiddleston obsession and she is definitely Team Vader. Her fam­ily includes three Great Danes (so far).

Q: Who reads queries in your agency?

Each agent receives and reads their own queries, especially if they’re still open to submissions. Most of us have assistants or interns who are invaluable for keeping our query boxes from exploding. My intern, Karly, has an uncanny ability to organize my vortex of an inbox into something manageable. That makes a huge difference as I try to find potential clients.

Q: Are you hungry to read any particular kind of story now?

While the market for paranormal romance and urban fantasy romance remains in a coma, I’m still hoping to discover a story with truly creative creatures and worlds. I adore PNR/UFR. I love the antiheroes, tortured heroes, broken but not beaten heroes. I still enjoy the darker stories, ones double-dipped in horror or other speculative elements.

Q: Have you fallen in love with any stories but passed because you know they are difficult sells? Have you ever represented a writer because the concept of the book was good even when the writing wasn’t? 

No to both questions. If I read something that’s phenomenal but it’s not “popular” right now, I don’t care. If the writer blows me away, I want to work with that writer. That may mean delaying a project until we can sell it, but I’d want to work with someone who is phenomenal. Plus, there are non-book markets to explore.

Q: How do diverse books impact your selection? How do you define diversity?

I look at diversity like this: the world is not one race, one color, one gender, one religion. People have choices – who they love, how they love, how they live, what they fight for, etc. If an author wants to catch my attention by pitching a diverse manuscript then that diversity had better be organic. The diverse elements should matter and reflect something of the real world. Done right means a blind lawyer is also a vigilante at night (Daredevil), or black men can help save the world as in Captain America: Civil War.

Q: What’s the most exciting thing about discovering a new writer?

There’s a pure energy that strikes when I’ve read a manuscript that’s unforgettable. I want everyone to read the book. I want the author to write the sequel. I turn into a fan girl and want to run in circles because I’ve found something special.

Q: What’s rewarding about a long-term relationship with an author?

I see it as a partnership that can develop two careers and help two people follow their dreams.

Q: If you could change anything about agenting-what would it be?

I’d want this industry to be more inclusive. For example, I look forward to a day when I’m not one of maybe two agents of color at a conference or sitting on a workshop panel.

Q: What is a rookie mistake you see too often in queries and first pages?

How much room do you have? How about:

* Querying me with the name of the previous agent you queried on the letter.

* Pitching genres I’ve clearly stated I don’t want.

* Writing a query about your life-long dream or background, and not about your book.

* Attaching anything.

* Sending a query that goes on and on about how rich your book will make us.

You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the first pages because the examples above guarantee I’ll never get to the sample.

Q: Does the #MSWL work or are you now flooded with too much of what you asked for and nothing else?

Sadly, it’s difficult to answer this one. I am already flooded with manuscripts in genres I have never represented, have never requested, and would never read. So, if I post my wish list and I get queries that actually fit, I’m overjoyed. It’s all the other queries that make this process challenging.

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Regarding Submissions: (updated June 20, 2016) 

Tricia is interested in Romance (Adult/YA/NA) in the following subgenres and specialties:

  • speculative
  • science fiction (prefer space opera, Independence Day-type earth stories, and off world)
  • futuristic (modern setting with lots of advanced tech/changes to society)
  • modern fantasy
  • strong anti-heroes I can’t get out of my mind
  • villains so deliciously dreamy I want to redeem them at all costs
  • video games (think Ready Player One but with romance)
  • mythology-based (Native American/South American/Eastern Europe/Asian/African/Pacific Region)
  • military/special ops (especially blended forces and foreign agencies)
  • paranormal (extraordinary creatures/world building)
  • urban fantasy (extraordinary creatures/world building)
  • dark/edgy (noir-ish/touch of horror/spine tingling)
  • YA historical (not Regency era)

She is not looking for:

  • non-romance novels
  • romantic suspense/thriller/psychological thriller
  • science fiction/paranormal/fantasy erotica
  • contemporary/historical erotica
  • inspirational/religious/faith-based
  • recent historical (50s, 60s, 70s)
  • non-fiction anything
  • Women’s fiction
  • literary
  • short stories
  • screenplays or poems
  • accidental/hidden pregnancy as primary theme
  • amnesia as primary theme
  • fake engagements as primary theme
  • sports/athletes as primary story focus
  • rock stars/musicians as primary story focus

Diverse authors are strongly encouraged to query their work. Multicultural settings/topics and diverse characters are also strongly encouraged. Until further notice, Tricia is only soliciting new/unpublished/completed romance manuscripts. For all other genres, she is closed to new submissions unless requested after meeting the author at conferences or online events.

Please email your 300-word-or-less romance query letter followed by the first 10 pages of chapter one (no prologues) in the body of your email (no attachments) to querytricia@fuseliterary.com. Her response time is 2-4 months on average, but could be longer if she’s deluged.

If you enjoyed Tricia’s interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Sarah Davies, Alan Gratz, Lisa Mantchev, Nicole Ayers and Monica Hoffman.

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