Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Agentopia: Peter J. Knapp

Click here for more info about Agentopia, including past posts. Today, we're thrilled to welcome Peter J. Knapp and hear all about his wishlist!


Pete Knapp joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011, where he has had a chance to work with many of the agency’s bestselling authors -- Nicholas Sparks, Emily Giffin, and Debbie Macomber included -- in all stages of the publication process. He has been actively involved in the company's film activities, helping to coordinate marketing and publicity efforts for The Lucky One (WB) and Safe Haven (Relativity, February 2013). Prior to joining Park Literary, he was a story editor and book scout at Floren Shieh Productions, consulting on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film companies, including CBS Films. He has also interned in the literary affairs and development offices of New Line Cinema, Overture Films, and Maximum Films & Management.

Peter is an avid reader of young adult and middle grade fiction, frequently trading book recommendations with his nine-year-old sister. Having graduated from NYU summa cum laude with a B.A. in Art History, he maintains a (mostly) healthy interest in the visual arts, particularly with animation. He is an advisor for Builders Beyond Borders, a nonprofit that organizes international humanitarian trips for teenagers, and though he loves to travel, he happily calls Brooklyn home.

Find Peter at:;; @petejknapp


Smart, realistic teen fiction with a narrative hook. In other words, books with a storytelling device that makes realistic teen fiction feel high concept. Examples would be: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (device: story told largely from a dead person's perspective through recorded tapes); Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (device: story told as a letter from the narrator to her ex-boyfriend, chronicling the stories behind various keepsakes of their relationship, all of which she is returning to him); If I Stay by Gayle Forman (device: told from the perspective of a girl in a coma, as her soul wanders around the hospital after a devastating car accident, deciding whether she should fight for her life.).

Smart, contemporary teen and MG fiction WITHOUT a narrative hook. A story doesn't need a clever narrative framing device to get my attention. As long as the story is fresh and the characters are there, I will pay attention. Think John Green's The Fault in our Stars; Nina LaCour's The Disenchantments; Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy; R. J. Palacio's incredible debut Wonder; Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now.

Middle grade books that are bittersweet. Think When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; or Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, So Totally Emily Embers by Lisa Yee, all of which comes at serious issues (loss, abandonment, finding family, unlikely friendship) through a funny angle (aka a Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead concept); or any of the MG mentioned above (Okay for Now, Wonder, Liar & Spy)

YA/MG books that are realistic -- and not. What I mean by this is books that are grounded in a world that is recognizable as our own, but the rules are different. Think: Kat Zhang's What's left of Me, which takes place in a world much like ours, except everyone is born with two souls that must compete for one body; Maggie Stievater's The Raven Boys, which is grounded in a familiar campus town in Virginia, but with psychics and forests that bend time; Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls, a heartbreaking story about love and loyalty between two siblings with a supernatural twist; Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, a mystery set in New York in the 1970s, but with time-travel. What makes these stories particularly compelling and "real" is not just the setting but the emotional challenges each character faces  -- even in Kat Zhang's book, where the topic of two souls raise questions about identity and the assertion of independence that are relevant to every teen's life. 

YA/MG books with LGBT characters. This is not its own genre -- LGBT characters can fit into any of the above -- but I would love to find a story that deals with LGBT issues like Brent Hartinger's Geography Club. Another book that recently sold that I've only read the announcement for, but which looks extremely interesting, is Bill Konigsberg's Openly Straight (what interests me about this is that it takes a now common story -- the coming-out story -- and flips it on its head: what happens with a gay kid goes back into the closet?). Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is another book that tackles gay teen life in a thoughtful, moving way.

YA/MG gritty crime thrillers and mysteries. I'd love a YA book in the vein of Tana French, Gillian Flynn, Patricia Highsmith. Kat Rosenfeld's Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a terrific example of a heartbreaking crime story with a complicated protagonist, complicated morality, a book that goes beyond whodunit and examines different types of fear -- while keeping readers at the edge of their seats. These books can but don't have to have a fantastic element (ie, Jill Hathaway's Slide, where a girl with epilepsy slips into other characters' perspectives.)

YA/MG historical light fantasy. My favorite fantasy often feels like it's grounded in the past -- whether it be steampunk, Dickensian, noir, or anything else. Think books like The Diviners, The Peculiars, The Monstrumologist, Liesl & Po. Emphasis on the word grounded. I do not typically go for high fantasy or heavy fantasy -- but rather stories that have a fantastic twist.

YA/MG survivor/nature/boy or girl with animal stories. And yes, I still like literary middle grade with dogs. I love the classics like Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows, Because of Winn Dixie. And, more recently, I loved Eliot Schrefer's Endangered. More like these, please!

Here are some specific projects I would love: writing comparable in subject and tone to Courtney Summers; something similar to Endangered by Eliot Schrefer; a YA Chariots of Fire (doesn’t need to be track & field, but similar feel—perhaps skiing?); a YA noir like Brick; a realistic contemporary YA set on a ranch; a thriller or suspense in the vein of Erik Larson’s nonfiction; a cute YA love story similar to Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares; YA or MG similar to the FX show The Americans; a YA Thomas Crown Affair. 

How to query

To submit to Pete Knapp, send a query letter and the first three chapters or up to 10,000 words in the body of an email to queries (at) parkliterary (dot) com. No attachments. (For security reasons, all emails with attachments will be deleted.) Be sure “Pete Knapp” or “Peter Knapp” appears in the subject line of the email.


  1. Um, this doesn't look like Sara. I think you've got the wrong agent listed in the intro. Too bad. I was looking forward to what Sara is looking for since I'm about to query her. :)

  2. That's a very pretty picture

  3. Thanks for stopping by Pete! This is a great list! I would also like to see more LGBT characters in mainstream YA!