Permian Basin Writers' Workshop

Hannah VanVels – Belcastro Agency

Hannah VanVels – Belcastro Agency

Hannah’s life is consumed by all things bookish, and when she’s not working on books, she can usually be found curled up with a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine. She earned her BA at the University of Michigan and holds MA degrees from Tel Aviv University and the University of Chicago. In addition to agenting, Hannah owns a freelance editing business. Hannah has worked various bookish jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, a freelance editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and most recently as the acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing. Hannah loves working closely with authors and coming alongside them to make their vision come to life on page.

What she’s looking for:

Middle Grade

Contemporary 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

Thriller/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 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 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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