author of the story collection Heads of the Colored People, published in April by 37 INK, an imprint of Atria Publishing Group
In 2015 I started querying agents with a novel I’d written as my MFA thesis at the University of Illinois. No one was sure about its genre—YA or adult literary fiction. After a lot of partial requests and a dozen full requests, lots of rejections, and lots of agents ignoring me—I queried about a hundred—an agent asked me to revise and resubmit. I grew bored with trying to write to his suggestions; to distract myself I wrote several short stories. One of them, “Heads of the Colored People,” gave me the idea for a full manuscript. In early 2016 I ran into an old colleague, Jensen Beach, who recommended that I submit my completed collection to some contests and mentioned that he could refer me to his agent,
Anna Stein. Two weeks later the collection won a small-press contest that came with publication, but I wasn’t sure if that was the best route. I contacted Anna and the three or four other agents I’d submitted to, strategically this time. Anna responded enthusiastically that I should talk to her instead of giving the book to the small press. We clicked on the phone, and the rest is a blessed history.
“Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body.” —Stephanie Mendoza, senior publicist, Simon & Schuster