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****UPDATED**** The winner of the first chapter critique, according to, is Laura Hulbert! Congratulations, Laura.        Cecily White – my Firebird and agent sister, managed with her many talents, to rope our agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (Vaughn heel-comma vleeg), into a little ol’ game of Truth or Dare. I signed with […]

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Two Firebirds and their Agent…Interview with Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

Posted by on Jan 2 2013, 2:12 am

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****UPDATED**** The winner of the first chapter critique, according to, is Laura Hulbert! Congratulations, Laura. 




Cecily White – my Firebird and agent sister, managed with her many talents, to rope our agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (Vaughn heel-comma vleeg), into a little ol’ game of Truth or Dare. I signed with Pam back in August, and she promptly wrangled me into a three book deal with Carina Press, so I highly recommend you check her out! (Even though she’s never read The Lord of the Rings (GASP!).

Enough roping, wrangling, and public shaming – here’s some information about Pam pulled from the Larsen Pomada website:

Associate Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg joined Larsen Pomada as an Associate Literary Agent in 2012 to represent young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance authors. Over the past four years Pam has become one of the top YA book bloggers in the country at She also partners her blog with Hicklebee’s, a children’s bookstore in San Jose, CA.

Pam writes supernatural YA and MG fiction and is represented by Laurie McLean, also of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. She lives in the Bay Area of California with her Dutch husband, two children–a boy and a girl the perfect set–a Jack Russell terrier, a bull dog puppy, and a small guinea pig. It is her greatest dream to own a menagerie.

To query please email with your query, first ten pages, and synopsis pasted into the body of the email.

And now for the fun part…

Truth or Dare with Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

by Cecily White

2012 was a big year… I got my agent. The Firebirds were formed. My debut series, ANGEL ACADEMY, sold to Entangled Publishing. Best of all, the Zombie Apocalypse came and went with nary a decapitation. So yeah, it’s been a good year. And now it’s time to jump into 2013!

This is a year to take risks, a year to really leap out of the box and shine. And nobody shines brighter than our guest today, fab literary agent and social media superwoman, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg.

CW: Welcome, Pam. Nice to have you on the blog.

PvHV: Great to be here.

CW: I thought we might start out the year with a little game of Truth or Dare. I’ll go first. Now, you rep YA, middle grade, and adult romance authors at Larsen-Pomada, but you’re also a pretty kick-ass author and blogger yourself. What I think we’d all like to know is… have you ever kissed a celebrity?

PvHV: Yes. I had a very short lived affair with the bassist of a Finnish ‘Goth and Roll’ band.

CW: Well, that’s fascinating. Personally, I’ve always thought Tom Welling and I have a great future together. Okay, next question: In the agenting world, you’re well-known for your razor-wit and keen eye for killer stories. Tell us the truth Pam, have you ever been an international spy?

PvHV: No, but I totally think I should be. I’m short enough to fly under radar.

CW: Uh-huh. I see we may need a dare here. *Leads Zac Efron into the interview room* Zac, this is my agent, Pam. She’s failed to answer my question about her international spy career, so now she has to do seven minutes in the supply closet with you. Is that cool?

Zac Efron: Uh, my publicist approved this, right?

CW: *Ignores muffled publicist-screams from hallway* Absolutely!


PvHV: Well, I think I’ve learned my lesson.

CW: I should hope so. Next question: Since you joined the ranks of world famous agents, you’ve been pursued by legions of authors, all begging for representation. Tell us, what is your best advice to a newbie author trying to stand out from the crowd? And don’t say big hair or I’ll get a complex.

PvHV: In all honesty, just follow the query guidelines and write a kick-ass story. 90% of my client list was found wading in the slush. The slush works.

CW: Well, thank the gods it’s not big hair. Unfortunately, we’re almost out of time. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the millions of fans who will inevitably read and comment on this blog post?

PvHV: Go see the new Star Trek movie. It has Benedict Sherlock guy as an evil villain.

CW: Pam, thank you so much for being here. We’re always thrilled to hang out with you. Group hug?

PvHV: Always!

*Cue emotional Zac Efron grope-fest*

Okay, peeps. Now it’s your turn. What questions do you have for Pam? (Hint: If you tell her she’s pretty, she’s more likely to answer them.) And remember, ONE LUCKY COMMENTER WILL BE CHOSEN TO RECEIVE A CRITIQUE FROM PAM ON THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THEIR NOVEL, so get busy!!!

51 responses to “Two Firebirds and their Agent…Interview with Pam van Hylckama Vlieg”

  1. Hi, Pam (and thanks Cecily for the interview). I actually follow you on twitter,Pam, and for what it’s worth, you are pretty. 🙂

    Now, to the question. What is the distinction between a query and a synopsis?

    Thank you!

    • Pam says:

      A query is where you entice the agent into reading the book. The synopsis is full of spoilers and is a condensed outline of the book.

  2. Kat Cantrell says:

    Great interview! I’m so glad to learn how to pronounce Pam’s name. 😛 Thanks for taking time for us ladies!

  3. Jamie K says:

    Awesome interview. And I agree with Laura, I too follow Pam on twitter and she is pretty. 🙂 I also think her dogs are adorable.

    And onto my question: I know voice is one thing agents say is what really makes them gravitate toward a project, do you have any advice for improving voice or making sure your manuscript has a good voice.

    • Pam says:

      I like to say that when you read the book out loud does it flow well? Do the characters say things that would be said in real life?

  4. Tamra baumann says:

    Great interview ladies! (And thanks for clearing up the pronunciation of Pam’s last name!)

    Thanks for sharing your fantastic agent Lorenda and Cecily!

  5. LOL. This is a great interview, P & C. What I want to know is–what happened during those seven minutes in the closet? 🙂

    Also, Pam, I’m curious. How much do you offer editorial advice to your authors, once you sign with them?

    Thanks for a fun post this morning!

  6. Mona Karel says:

    Hi Pam, thanks so much for taking time out to chat. You’ve probably seen this question multiple times, but still: With the multitude of new small presses, how can a neophyte writer figure out where to submit? Unless, of course, they have a very clever (and pretty!) agent to guide them.
    Hmmm, for that matter unless an agent is recommended by someone we can trust, how can a relatively new writer (two books small press published) find an agent they can trust.

    • Pam says:

      It is super simple to figure out who the good small presses are. Some of my favorites are Entangled, and Spencer Hill Press.

      As far as finding an agent go to the websites. Do their client lists list people you know? Has the agent sold books to both big and medium size publishers?

  7. robena grant says:

    That was a fun post, Lorenda, Cecily, and Pam. Thank you.

    Pam, is your editorial advice general,in that you cover every possible issue and the manuscript comes back looking like there was an explosion of red ink, or do you focus on one thing like plot, or character arc?

  8. Judith Leger says:

    LOL! I would have like 7 minutes in the supply closet with Zac too. Lucky woman!

    There’s a lot of talk that YA urban fantasy is overloaded right now. Do you see that happening? I’m curious cause I just finished a YA UF (faieries, elves, magic folk, etc.). Holding breath while waiting for the answer.

    Hugs and thanks, Cecily and Pam!

  9. Terri Osburn says:

    What a fun interview and thank you, Pam, for being such a good sport. I’m sure enduring those 7 minutes with Zac were scarring. You poor thing.

    As the mom of an avid YA reader, is there any truth to these rumblings about them leaning more toward the hotter side? (Sorry if this has been asked already, I haven’t gotten to read all the comments.)

    • Pam says:

      I think that will happen mostly in New Adult. The Vincent Boys did get a rerelease with hot scenes but as e-book only. Right now we will just have to watch and censor as normal in our own homes.

  10. What a fun interview! I love the ‘Benedict Sherlock guy’ line. That slays me.

    Here’s my question:

    I write in different genres ~ fantasy and romantic suspense ~ when querying, what if I want to query the same agent for both books? Should I send one and wait a few weeks to send the other? Or should I just try one book for one agent?

    Thanks again for the quirky interview. I love it when agents show us they’re real people, too. Takes away some of the awe/fear we writers have.

  11. Pintip says:

    Hi Pam, You’re pretty . 🙂 You and Cecily (and Lorenda, too, I’m sure!) make a great team, and I was so glad to meet you at Nationals this summer. Thanks so much for stopping by the Firebirds blog and sharing your awesomeness with us!

  12. How fun! Great interview ladies!!

  13. Kay Hudson says:

    Delightful interview, ladies. Brave soul, Pam, for inviting queries. I predict you’ll be hearing from a lot of us.

  14. Fun, fresh and witty interview…and yes, 2013 is that risk-taking year. Any predications ladies on what is going to be the next big thing in publishing? Also I was in NOLA recently and an agent told me the ‘new” word for YA is New Adult – truth or ‘flash in the pan’? (Although I’ve heard this phrase before, would just enjoy your take on it.

    Happy New Year!

  15. Masha says:


    Love what you said about editors and agents throwing on galoshes and rooting around in the slush pile. Totally true. Wouldn’t have believe it, if it hadn’t happened to me.

    Thank you for sharing!

  16. Jean Willett says:

    Great interview! I’m such a Benedict Cumberbatch fan as well. I’ll definitely add Star Trek to my movie list. And double thanks for the pronunciation of your name 🙂
    Do you find conferences helpful?

    • Pam says:

      As a writer I do think conferences are helpful. If you are going to learn craft.

    • Hey Jean, aren’t we lucky over here, Benedict Cumberbach is back on in the BBC Radio 4 comedy Cabin Pressure – starting tomorrow, Thursday, around 6pm GMT (I think). Can you get BBC radio stations online? You’ll ‘see’ him in a totally different light.

      Natalie Meg Evans, from UK

  17. Great interview! And welcome to the Firebirds blog, Pam!

    I see Denny S. Bryce asked this right before I was going to, but I’m curious about the breakaway category of “New Adult” books, too, and would love to hear your take on it.

    • Pam says:

      The problem is that it is being bought by children’s and adult imprints. I can’t see how the genre will be defined with both teams vying for the next big thing.

  18. Thanks so much for a fun interview! Great job, Pam, Cecily and Lorenda.

    I’m a craft junkie, so my question is… are there any web sites, workshops, books or conferences you recommend as essentials for a writer’s “craft toolkit?”

    Again, awesome interview! Hope you guys have a wonderful and successful 2013!

  19. Avery Flynn says:

    What a fun interview! Of course my productivity is shot to hell because I will be alternately giggling about Benedict Sherlock and mooning about how hot he is. Mmmmm 🙂

    And now to the question: Do you see a difference in handling YA vs. adult authors? Is one category easier to rep than the other?

  20. Elisa Beatty says:

    Hilarious interview, folks! Thanks so much, Pam, for being with us today!

    And, oh, yes, I’m all over that Benedict Sherlock guy. May 2013 can’t come soon enough…

  21. Kim Law says:

    Thanks for being here with us today, Pam! Funny interview!

  22. Ami Weaver says:

    This was a great interview! Thanks for the laughs. And all the good questions, too.

  23. Karen says:

    Wonderful interview ladies.

    Pam, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a little about yourself.

    Cecily and Lorenda, thank you so much for introducing us to your (secret) ;)agent.

  24. Terri says:

    Hi Pam! Thanks for appearing on our blog. Your interview was too funny!

    I write in multiple genres – romantic elements, romantic suspense and paranormal. My question is in the paranormal market. I’ve seen and read a lot of darker ones but what about the lighter/funny/quirky paranormals? Are there places for these kind of stories?

    Thanks again for supporting the Firebirds!

  25. Hi Pam!

    First & foremost (shameless flattery) you really are very pretty AND entertaining. 🙂 I am now following you on Twitter.

    I have two questions. 1) Can you tell us what differentiates YA from New Adult in the eyes of agents and publishers. 2) As an up and coming author (I am teetering between YA & New Adult I believe – I’ll let ya know for sure after your response to question #1) what conferences do you recommend I attend in 2013?

    Thanks so much for the fun & informative interview!

  26. Thanks for the awesome interview and information. How do you manage to find the time to write and work as an agent? I’m impressed. 🙂

  27. Wendy says:

    Okay, I’m totally cheating by asking two questions:

    1) That pesky “about yourself” paragraph at the end of the query: is it better to have almost nothing to say, or to put in one or two silly/only marginally useful things? I feel stupid saying “I’m in RWA and, uh, I write” but all the other advice I see online says things like being a librarian, having done paid (non-fiction) writing before, etc. don’t belong there.

    2) Has steampunk jumped the shark? This book is taking me longer than I thought it would to finish!

  28. Hello, Pam.
    Brave lady, taking on these questions.
    As someone who has a finger on the pulse of the romance market:
    Why haven’t you read Lord of the Rings?
    Do you ever read/rep M/M romance?
    Did you read the Shades of Grey books?

  29. To read for a living, be funny and, yes, pretty… How lucky can you be? I loved the interview. It was informative and it made me laugh. Great combo. Sabrina

  30. Theresa says:

    Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the interview. I write high fantasy YA, Would you recommend entering contests under the Fantasy or YA categories?

    I find if I enter Fantasy, I get judges who hate YA and First Person voice but love the Fantasy (think Tolkien), yet if I enter YA, I get judges who get mired in the world building. Any advice?



  31. Pam and Cecily,
    What a great, fun interview! Oh, the things you find out in these kinds of interviews. 🙂
    My question for Pam: Where do you see contemporary YA fitting into publishing now? Any chance for some good stand-alone books, or are publishing houses still looking for the series?
    Thanks! And Happy New Year to the Firebirds!

  32. Fun interview! I already follow you on FB, twitter, and Bookalicious, so I’m not surprised 🙂
    There seems to be a new trend of previously untouchable publishers opening up to unagented submissions (if only for a limited time) So, my question is, do you know why that might be? And would you recommend a writer take advantage of those opportunities, or is it best not to have shopped a ms around if you plan to query agents?
    Thanks for taking questions!

  33. Thanks for the interview & I’m so sad you had to endure 7 long minutes locked away with Zac E. Had I known, I would’ve volunteered to suffer that dare in your place. :~)

    My question…It seems like darker stories dominate the YA bookshelves. What if you don’t write dystopian or paranormal? What if you write comedy & adventure instead? Is is harder to find a home for contemporary YA in a world of vampires and zombies?


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