Sometime last year a video went around social media--a young poet at a slam poetry competition, speaking with incredible passion about the ways young women learn to take up less space in the world, the number of times we apologize without thinking, the impact our mothers' relationships with food have on ours...so many nuanced issues that affect so many young women--women of all ages, in fact.
The poem, "Shrinking Women," really stuck with me. Every time it popped up on my feed, I'd watch it again--just three and a half minutes, and I'd feel so much, so powerfully, again. I noticed how self-assured the poet was. Lily Myers was her name, and she was a student at Wesleyan University. I started to think about how much the issues encapsulated in these few moments might be remarkable in the space of a YA novel. I started thinking about Lily's facility with language, the self-assuredness of her hand, and I just couldn't get the idea out of my mind that I should reach out to her.
This turned out to be easier said than done; right about the time Lily was becoming an internet sensation, reaching a million hits on YouTube, she had left the country for a semester abroad. She was not reachable. I put the idea aside and moved on with other things--and was happily surprised to hear from her earlier this year, right about the time she returned to the States and did an interview on NPR's "Here and Now" (which itself referenced an interview Lena Dunham did on Salon, where "Shrinking Woman" was mentioned). Her YouTube hits were rising towards 4 million. Clearly the themes in her poem that touched me so much had done the same for many, many others.
Lily and I had a couple of lovely phone conversations, and I was fortunate enough to be in New York at the same time she was last month, so we got to sit down at dinner and have a wonderfully wide-ranging conversation, which removed any lingering worries I might have had about working with such a young writer. Clearly Lily has the perspective, the thoughtfulness, and the open, listening mind of a writer who has many stories to tell.
It turns out I wasn't the only smart cookie who had seen "Shrinking Women" and thought Lily should do a book. In addition to some adult agents and editors, Liza Kaplan of Philomel had also seen a spark she wanted to nourish into a flame. So right about the time I felt sure I wanted to sign Lily up as a client, Liza and her publisher Michael Green were sure they wanted to sign Lily up as a Philomel author. It was a remarkable and wonderful case of a whole team coming together at the same moment, seeing the possibilities, and deciding to work together to reach them.
And so I am pleased to announce not only that Lily Myers is now a client of EMLA, she is also an author under contract with Philomel, working away at her debut YA novel as she finishes up the last year-plus of her bachelor's degree. Watch this space--I think there are many, many remarkable things to come from this woman! (For example, check this tumblr she has created with a friend, chock-full of good, perspective-shifting stuff.) Congratulations, Lily!
Happy release day to debut author Joshua McCune and his book, TALKER 25! For some fun, check out the dragon naming party on EMU's Debuts celebrating the big day. And don't forget yesterday's book giveaway and kickoff post with an interview featuring Ammi-Joan Paquette and how she came to represent Joshua and TALKER 25. Fantasy readers will want to slither, fly, and burn their way to the nearest bookstore for a copy of this one!
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