Two Deal Treasure by Kelli Martin

I wasn’t supposed to sell non-fiction. I’m an escapist novel kind of girl. A ride-or-die fiction-loving woman. I live and breathe and bleed feel-good fiction that I can devour in one sitting – flowy dress slipped on, knitting needles in my lap, afghan throw lovingly placed over my bare feet, tealights decorating the pier under the Adirondack chair I’m curled up in. I’m that kind of reader. Over the years, I’ve learned that in books, in reading, in publishing and in love, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry…happily so.

When I started as a literary agent at Wendy Sherman Associates, my mission was to focus on love stories and romance novels. Imagine my delight when the first project I sold was for narrative non-fiction – a beautifully written, no-holds-barred memoir with humanitarian, social activist, racial and cultural lenses aimed at the U.S. justice system. The next day, a charming romantic comedy about a Millennial med school student diagnosed with anxiety disorder received an offer too.

At first glance, these two books may seem like they have little in common. Looking deeper, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Both are about protagonists who are trying to cement their places in the world. Both are about people and/or lived experiences that have been invisible or maligned. Both are about finding peace amidst pain. Both are about the tears we shed, and the loved ones who help put us back together. Both are about the tough, tender ways we come of age and come into adulthood. Both are affirming celebrations of the ways we grasp at life.

Most of all, both books are love letters…love letters to family and culture, love letters to aspects of ourselves that we shed, and love letters to the selves we are becoming – in all their fullness and richness and radiance.

The plans we make? Sometimes they end up by the wayside. Then something new takes over. Maybe that something new is not really new at all, it’s been there all along. And now we see it. We finally see the path to this new kind of self-love. And the view is mighty fine.

-Kelli

Michelle Bowdler’s Is Rape A Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto

When Michelle Bowdler was in her early twenties, she dreamed of becoming a writer. Then in 1984, she was violently raped during a home invasion and her whole world exploded. Once a passionate assistant editor working at a magazine, she had to rebuild her entire life while struggling with PTSD. And she did. She studied public health at Harvard (and gave the commencement speech), married her devoted wife Mary and had two children, became Executive Director of Health and Wellness at Tufts, an activist for rape victims, and joined a vibrant writing community at Grub Street in Boston. When I met Michelle in 2018, I read her manuscript and was astonished by her exquisite mastery of language and storytelling. I signed her as a client and discovered the perfect editor for her project, Bryn Clark at Flatiron Books. Witnessing Michelle achieve her 30+ years dream come true of finally publishing her book has been an honor.

Michelle’s story is one of inspiration, love, and overwhelming hope. As her publicist Amelia Possanza pointed out to us, she became the champion she needed all those years ago. I am in awe of her incredible talent as a writer, but also her generosity, kindness, and gracious spirit. I hope you will read her powerful manifesto, join the movement by supporting local grassroots organizations, and vote.

You can learn more about Michelle’s book Is Rape a Crime? and her work in this Guardian interview by another courageous writer Moira Donegan.

–Nicki Richesin