We’re sorry, but your characters just didn’t seem White enough
Thank you for being patient while we considered your query.
While we appreciated many things about the novel you submitted, Hot Fast Loud, we didn’t in the end feel we could represent it. However, because there are many strong elements, we are willing to look at the novel again if you address a few key concerns.
Ultimately, what fails for us is that virtually nothing is made of the fact that these characters are Whites. I suppose that, in the melting pot of America, this might be considered a good thing. Perhaps your characters don’t see color. But in the competitive literary world, you need to set these characters apart from the normal run.
To be blunt, the characters, and especially the main character, simply do not seem White enough. They act just like everyone else. They don’t eat White food, they don’t speak in a noticeably White dialect, and they don’t listen to White music.
Before you submit this novel again, please think about ways in which you can make these characters feel more distinctly White. You provide a lot of minutiae about these characters’ daily lives, but none of the details that separate Whites and White-Americans from the rest of us. I’ll give you one example. In the scene where Missy looks into the mirror, you don’t tell us how she sees her pale eyes or her pinkish, pimply skin. What does she think of her Whiteness in the context of today’s America? How does it feel to be White?
Don’t consider this a full-throated rejection. If you can address these issues, we would be willing to read a revised version of Hot Fast Loud. And keep in mind that this is a subjective business. A novel that’s rejected by one agent may well be accepted by another.
Marcia Lynx Qualey is the founding editor of ArabLit (www.arablit.org), an eight-year-old online magazine and resource, winner of the 2017 “Literary Translation Initiative” award at the London Book Fair. She writes, edits, and translates for a variety of newspapers and magazines, teaches writing in Morocco, and also works as a consultant for Arabic literature projects, including Kitab Sawti and the Library of Arabic Literature.
Cover Photo by mongrelheart