Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelly Dyksterhouse of Raven Quill Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 1.43.30 PMKelly Dyksterhouse is a literary agent with Raven Quill Literary Agency.

Kelly grew up with a book always in her hands and a story always in her head. The important role that books played in her early years developed into a passion for children’s literature in her adult life. Kelly holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults for Vermont College of Fine Arts and has interned as an editorial reader at leading literary agencies and worked as an independent developmental editor and writing mentor. She considers the opportunity to help bring books into existence to be a great honor, and it is a particular joy for her to work alongside authors as they develop their project from idea to polished manuscript. The best feeling of all is when those manuscripts end up as books in the hands of children.

Picture books: “I would love to find and author or an author-illustrator whose books give readers a new way of looking at the ordinary in the vein of Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Brenden Wenzel. I am drawn to subversive pb’s that allow the reader in on the joke of the story, as in Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat, and pb’s with an unexpected humorous twist at the end.”

Middle grade: “MG is my sweet spot, and I am looking to create a very diverse list. I would love an #ownvoices novel in verse or coming of age friendship story such as thannha lai’s Inside Out and Back Again and Kelly Yang’s Front Desk. I love high-concept fantasy and ghost stories that use the world, action, and character to reveal important themes such as friendship, identity, family, forgiveness, like Holly Black does in Doll Bones. I am also drawn to summer vacation stories, such as The Season of Styx Malone, Caterpillar Summer, or Summer of the Gypsy Moths. Finally, I have a particular love for ensemble casts, whether that be in mysteries like The Maypop Kidnapping or family stories like The Penderwicks or The Vanderbeekers. Basically, I am pretty open to anything, so send me your best writing.”

Young adult: “My love for ensemble casts carries over to YA, and in particular I love heist books, such as Ally Carter’s Heist Society or Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. I would love an #ownvoices book that deals with the struggle between personal identity, family identity, and culture like in Acevedo’s Poet X. I am also really interested in books that explore the intersection of faith and culture—though I’m more interested in stories that show growth through the struggle and questions rather than give answers. In fantasy, I am drawn to books leans more literary, with a vivid, well-drawn world.”

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