A Student of Life and Cheesy Hot Chocolate--Inside the Kidlit Studio with Agent Saritza Hernandez
I love a good quote. Always have. I was that twelve-year-old kid who checked out Bartlett's Quotations from the library and kinda sorta forgot to return it. (Sorry, librarian friends!) I memorize poetry just to be able to quote it on demand. So I tend to appreciate other quote lovers--we're a special breed, people who love the worlds contained in a perfect, succinct quote. If Saritza Hernandez's Twitter feed is any indication, she is also a lover of the literary quote, often posting a carefully-chosen one as her "QOTD." I think we quote aficionados tend to be story people, book people, people people.
I first met Saritza when the region of SCBWI that I help lead invited her to present during an Agent and Editor day last year. She did an amazing job presenting on the business of being a writer and was such a fun and engaging person. Her bio also indicates she loves all things Star Trek, is an avid coffee drinker, and has a serious audiobook obsession, so I'm pretty sure we'd be besties if we ever met in person. Anyone who loves Captain Kathryn Janeway is a top-notch human in my book.
Saritza works as an agent for Andrea Brown Literary Agency. A passionate advocate of the BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities, she enjoys fresh voices in Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult genre fiction. Her client titles include: Does My Body Offend You by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt (2022), Unexpecting by Jen Bailey (2022), and Lambda Literary Finalist and 2017 NYPL Book of the Year, Dreadnought by April Daniels.
So glad we got the opportunity to learn more about her through the Inside the Kidlit Studio Questions!
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I know that most people would say something about their career or education but, for me, my children’s happiness is my greatest achievement. Seeing them thrive, love, and live their authentic lives gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment.
2. What is your idea of perfect happiness? An afternoon playing tabletop games with my husband and adult children after spending the morning reading on my iPad and drinking so much coffee!
3. What is your most treasured possession? My family’s stories. I always say that we have storytellers in my family but we’ve always just passed them down in oral histories. I hope to one day leave our stories for future generations to enjoy, so I guess my most treasured possession is my journal.
4. When and where were you the happiest? My wedding day. Nothing really went right and it couldn’t have been more perfect because my husband and I remained “present” in the moment. We soaked up the attention from seeing our families together and under one roof; a difficult thing to do otherwise as much of my family was in Puerto Rico and his were in New York.
5. What is it that you most dislike? Willful ignorance.
6. What is your greatest extravagance? My watercolor tattoo. I’ve purchased cars and computers that cost more than my tattoo but I consider those “necessary” and an extravagance is something you buy for yourself, to treat yourself, right? Look forward to getting even more extravagant when it’s safe to go to the parlor again.
7. Which talent would you most like to have? Piano player. I’d love to sit at a piano and just play beautiful music.
8. Where would you like to live? Despite not really liking the government in power in my state of Florida, I really enjoy living here. I’d love to own my home outright though, so I can buy a house in Puerto Rico too.
9. What do you most value in your friends? Connection. I’m not the best person at keeping in touch with people, so when friends reach out to just connect, chat via zoom or phone or socially-distanced get-togethers, I love it.
10. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction? Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek Voyager and ALL of Beverly Jenkins’ heroines in her romance novels.
11. Which living person do you most admire? My husband and my father, in equal measure. They’ve both grown up without their fathers in their lives and have become incredible fathers to their children, and several fatherless children in our community and extended families.
12. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience? But only because I have very little of it!
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My eyesight. While I like how cute I look in my glasses, I’d love to be able to see without them but my eyesight is too poor to fully restore with Lasik surgery, so… glasses it is!
14. What is your favorite and least favorite word? Favorite: "and" (I like to use it a lot!) Least Favorite: "stupid" (we don’t allow anyone to use it in my house).
15. What is your perfect environment for creative work? Sitting at my desk, with no emails or meetings, headphones on, and binaural beats playing on Spotify. Tons of coffee too!
16. What’s the weirdest thing about you that you’re willing to share? Don’t know if this is weird but my husband and children believe it is: I love hot chocolate with melted cheese inside.
17. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Student of life? I’m always in awe of every nugget of information I get to learn and find so many things fascinating, from history to scientific advancements which is probably why I love being a literary agent. I get to do something that encourages reading and learning daily!
18. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be kidlit.) I have two actually: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles (YA) and Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (Adult SFF)
19. What is the favorite book of your childhood? Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Bloom
20. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God/Goddess say when you arrive? “I know you have a ton of questions, but here’s a never-ending cup of coffee to take into the vast library of knowledge for your eternal pleasure. Go learn every you’ve ever wanted to know!”
More about Saritza:
Her website: www.saritzahernandez.com
Her Manuscript Wish List: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/saritza-hernandez/