"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Cast the wind in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Welcome!—whether you’ve clicked your way here intentionally or landed on this page as a result of some rabbit-hole internet pursuit, I am happy that you’ve found your way to my website.
This is the About page—that page where I need to talk about myself, something that I honestly find incredibly awkward and contrived without being able to ask questions of you in return. There’s nothing I would like more than to be able to meet you at the door, invite you in with an offer of a cup of coffee or tea, and sit down and get to know you better. Nevertheless, I suspect the reason that you’re here is to learn more about me, The Tobias Literary Agency, or writing craft in general, and so I am afraid I must endure the awkward and just get to it.
I’ll spare you mundane childhood details, other than the fact that I am an only child and grew up with many imaginary friends, some created and some drawn from books I loved. Like so many other writers, I was an avid reader with an active imagination, and it seemed I always had a book nearby and was chipping away at some story or another in my head.
> I don’t understand the question, “cats or dogs?” The answer is yes.
> I am a full believer in nature therapy, something which the pandemic has made me all the more aware of. Daily walks outside, unplugged from technology, are a necessary part of my day.
> We have many birdfeeders, which means we feed many, many squirrels, which has provided much entertainment during the pandemic. Turns out squirrels are funny. Who knew? Ours are named Mark and Kyle. There are many Marks and many Kyles. Turns out squirrels are also hard to tell apart.
> I love being on the water—kayaking, boating, sailing, you name it.
Fast-forward to my adult life when, after years of pursuing reasonable grad school options like law school and seminary, I decided that I wanted to take writing seriously and headed off to Vermont College of Fine Arts to study Writing for Children and Young Adults. Why writing for children? Honestly, I never considered anything else, probably because it was as a child that I fell in love with story, with a capital S. That is, the Universal Story, something that I believe is tied innately and mysteriously to human existence. It’s a way of teaching, of sharing, of loving. Of learning, processing, and growing. Story leads to understanding. And it is children who are the most open to Story, who can give themselves to it most freely as they are in the active years of creating their own stories.
Of course, their stories are just beginning, but as we all know, beginnings are full of hope and potential. And perhaps that is why I am the most drawn to children’s literature: Hope. It’s something that we all need today. As CS Lewis said, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”
This need for hope is the reason I feel that it’s absolutely essential to champion diverse stories of all backgrounds. Children need to be able to see themselves in the stories that will form them. They need to see brave knights who look like them displaying heroic courage so that they can see that they, too, have the strength and courage needed to face the obstacles life will throw at them. And as an agent, my tastes are wide in terms of genre: From quiet and literary to action-adventure genre fiction, I love it all. But the one quality that I feel marks all of the books I am drawn to, from PB to YA, both fiction and nonfiction, is an offer of looking at the world anew through a lens colored by hope.
The nuts and bolts of how I came to agenting are a little less philosophical. While studying at VCFA, I took an internship at a large literary agency. From this internship, I moved to an assistant at a small “boutique” kidlit agency. It was through 8 years at these jobs that I learned that I loved the editorial process and advocating for authors who write books that matter. When Jacqui Lipton asked me to join her at the Raven Quill Literary Agency, it seemed a natural fit. The mission behind RQLA, I feel, was unique. We worked hard to create a collaborative culture where writers and artists feel comfortable to explore and perfect their craft while helping them reach their career goals. The Tobias Literary Agency has a similar culture and mission, and so it seemed a natural fit to affiliate with them as RQLA grew in order to best meet the needs of our clients’ careers. Though able to maintain a personal feel of a small agency, TLA is able to offer our clients all the amenities of a full service agency, from film/TV rights to foreign and translation and everything in between. It’s exciting to work with an energetic team who are enthusiastic about bringing our clients’ stories to life in as many forms as possible.
It is a joy for me to collaborate closely with each client to help them achieve their vision for their work and to connect them with an editor who sees that vision, too. And when that vision becomes a book in the hands of a child, that is when the magic happens.