Christa (Heschke) Cifelli
NOT looking for:
-Issue-driven contemporary – I want dark topics in horror and speculative, but I’m not looking for it in contemporary right now.
-Early readers or chapter books
-Secrets and lies—and the aftermath when the truth comes out!
-Ensemble cast comedies like OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH (but not pirates)
-Stories that mix magic & mystery (HOTEL MAGNIFIQUE)
-Family bonds, especially sisters
Specifics I'd love to see:
-Light, humorous fantasy without end-of-the-world stakes
-Stories with band geeks, artists-any kind front and center
-A platonic male/female friendship that is the core of the story and is never romantic
PB – I’m not really looking much for NF bios these days, as the market is so saturated, unless it somehow ties into present times (I am only looking for bios on women and/or underrepresented and diverse subjects). Author-illustrators always!
PB – Stories with environmental tie-ins (I’m especially drawn to stories about protecting oceans and the animals that live there). I also am a fan of unlikely friendship stories, especially with two very different animals—I really enjoy the ones that are true stories especially!
Picture books – I have a full picture book list, so I'll be looking very selectively. I like humor, character-driven stories, inclusive stories, diverse representation, fiction with a fun educational aspect (i.e. A PLACE FOR PLUTO).
Sci-fi – I’m not looking for hard sci-fi. I'd really like a sci-fi-horror like ALIEN (but not too much gore!! I can handle some though), and always open to space operas! No intergalactic wars.
Mystery/suspense – I really like creepy, gothic suspense like A FORGERY OF ROSES. And GALLANT—it feels like gothic, fantasy, & horror all in one! Anything that comps to CRIMSON PEAK is always on my list—creepy manor, period piece, lots of secrets, ghosts, some romance!
I love monsters of any kind in MG, and I’m interested in ghosts! For MG contemporary, I’m interested in all types of coming-of- age with authentic dialogue and lots of humor (always love Chad Lucas’s MG dialogue!).
Middle grade – In addition to my constant favorites, fantasy & horror, I definitely have a soft spot for all things creepy & mystery! I'm a constant fan of THE GREENGLASS HOUSE, THE CLACKITY, NIGHTBOOKS, & I was a huge SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK fan as a kid.
Graphic novels – All genres and types in MG and YA! Comps: NIMOMA, ROLLER GIRL, SNAPDRAGON, AGONY HOUSE, SMILE, THE WITCH BOY, BEETLE AND THE HOLLOWBONES, 5 WORLDS series, LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME, Remy Lai.
Rom-coms – Funny with smart dialogue, and tons of witty banter between the romantic leads! Nothing overly corny or predictable. For adult: BOOK LOVERS, RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE, THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, GET A LIFE CHLOE BROWN. For YA—love Gloria Chao’s books!
Comps: PAN’S LABYRINTH for fairy-tale horror, Carrie Ryan (especially THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH), THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING, FINAL GIRLS, MEXICAN GOTHIC, WILDER GIRLS. I also can’t get enough horror movies—BODIES BODIES BODIES and BARBARIAN are two more that’ve stuck with me!
Horror, YA & adult - To me, the best horror has social commentary (WHAT WE HARVEST, EAT YOUR HEART OUT). I love horror blended with fantasy or fairy tales. I never get tired of creepy forests & small towns with secrets, whether it’s a current setting, historical, or high fantasy!
LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS, Neil Gaiman, Holly Black (love her fairy books), VE Schwab, Garth Nix (SABRIEL books), Mercedes Lackey, IN THE NAME OF THE WIND, the RHAPSODY books, A COURT OF THRONE AND ROSES, ATLAS SIX, THE MAGICIANS,THE HAZEL WOOD, Erin A Craig.
Fantasy, YA and adult - Unique world-building, atmospheric writing, and strong characters first and foremost (I gravitate towards strong female leads especially!). Comps and topics I love:
Of course, per previous MSWLs, I’m always interested in elevating underrepresented/diverse voices. In terms of writing, I always am drawn to literary, but am open to more commercial as long as it has strong characters—it’s all about the characters for me!
Christa (Heschke) Cifelli @ChristaHeschkeAuthors! I’m excited to tell you about my #MSWL for 2023. Some big changes this year! A thread:
This year, I’ll be looking first for MG, then YA, then adult, then PB. My preference is for dark genre work (fantasy, horror, suspense) and rom-coms/lighter contemporary! I’m newly open to adult rom-coms after falling in love with a few last year. 😁