Founded in 2003, Talcott Notch Literary is a rapidly-growing boutique agency representing the freshest new voices in both fiction and nonfiction. Their President and Executive Editor, Gina Panettieri has expertise in every aspect of writing and publishing and has helped thousands of writers achieve their goals. She has successfully placed hundreds of books with such well-known publishers as Berkley , St. Martin 's Press, Adams Media, Palgrave-Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons and many others.
CIR: Where did the name Talcott Notch come from? It’s unique.
GP: Talcott Mountain is located in Connecticut, and Talcott Notch (on the mountain) is where my original office was located. The views are phenomenal for this area of New England, though probably nothing to compare with what you get in the Rocky Mountains!
CIR: How did you get into this business?
GP: I came in a different route than many agents. I was originally a writer with my own agent, but as more and more unagented writers who knew me from critique groups or organizations began to ask me to assist them with their contracts or to help them in finding a publisher, my role as agent took form rather organically. I suppose you could say it chose me rather than the other way around! Finally one day a rather prominent author sort of shook me and said 'Hey, all this work you're doing, that's a job, you know!' A short time after, I made it official.
CIR: You’re a classic film buff! Incidentally, I saw Casablanca for the first time over the holidays and was blown away. They just don’t make a lot of movies like that, especially today which leads me to this question. Do you think fiction in general is losing the ability to be innovative?
GP: I adore classic movies, and old-time radio shows like Suspense and The Whistler, as well. I think that those films and radio dramas, like Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre radio theatre and films, were innovative but reflective of the times. Citizen Kane was inspired by a major publishing figure of the period. Our fiction now is reflective of our times, but you would easily find its parallels in earlier periods. Isn't there a resurgence in interest in 'pulp' fiction, and a new appreciation for genres that 70 or 80 years ago were considered purely commercial? Now I see books written in the form of text messages, which is clearly taking fiction into a new era of language and communication. And we have books written from dogs' point-of-view, like THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein. No, we're not losing anything in terms of innovation.
CIR: Talcott Notch represents an impressive balance of non-fiction and fiction. Is this by design? I don’t think I’ve seen such dedication to both sides in many other agencies.
GP: Yes and no. It does work to help insure against market fluctuations. But it also happens I love everything. That might be a weakness. My husband gets annoyed because I can turn on the television and whatever is on, I can become instantly fascinated in. It could be The History of Salt and I'll be wrestling for the remote, demanding he leave it on. I was watching C-Span last night fighting sleep to learn about whether the Brookings Institute thinks we should cut the number of large flat-deck carriers in the Mediterrean to 10. Hubby's learned to work that in his favor but tuning it to UFC or ShoBox before hitting the power button. The same thing happens with manuscripts. I'm discerning about quality, but I'm an omnivore when it comes to subject matter. Teach me something I can't learn anywhere else and I'll be hooked. Tell me a story I haven't heard before. Introduce me to characters I'll find fascinating, even if they're not nice. But be authentic and be accurate. I'll know when you're not since I have an amazing array of experts in my little bag of tricks.
CIR: And we always have to ask a bizarre question. Would you write if you lived in the 18th century and could only use a quill?
GP: Yes, but I'd write laws. We needed to get out of the blocks a bit faster. I'd probably also write inflammatory political tracks and get myself hanged. Wait a minute, maybe.... no, I'd still do it. I can't keep my mouth shut now and wouldn't have been able to then. That's why I'm an author's advocate.
Thanks, Gina! Rock readers are invited to leave comments. Learn more about Talcott Notch Literary Agency at http://www.talcottnotch.net/
Interview conducted by Gusto Dave Jackson