Stephanie Stein, Editor at HarperCollins Children’s/HarperTeen

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children’s, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Historical, Humor, LGBTQ, Literary, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Favorite sub-genres: Contemporary YA, Contemporary Young Adult, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, Feminism, LGBTQIA, Literary Middle Grade, Magical Realism, Speculative Fiction, YA Fantasy, YA Historical Fantasy, contemporary MG, historical, science fiction

I’m looking for YA and middle-grade fiction in a variety of genres, including fantasy, contemporary, historical, and high-concept contemporary with a slight speculative twist (think They Both Die at the End or Before I Fall). I am focused on building an inclusive list with a variety of different voices, and am always looking for own voices and underrepresented authors and characters–both in books that tackle serious topics and questions of identity head on, and in genre fiction and more light-hearted contemporary stories.

I love stories that play with narrative structure (non-linear timelines, unconventional POVs, quirky or unreliable narrators) and/or twist the rules of genre.

In YA, I look for smart, atmospheric, voice-driven stories, whether they’re witty and full of snappy dialogue or lyrical and literary. I’m a fan of slow-burning romantic tension, stories of friendship and sisterhood, complex family relationships, and retellings–if they bring a new twist to the table (gender-swapped, feminist, and queer lenses always catch my attention!). My first love is YA fantasy, where I look for unique or complex magic, strong worldbuilding, and morally complex dilemmas and characters.

In middle grade, I’m interested in multi-layered humor that kids of all ages can enjoy, a great puzzle or mystery, and stories about friendship and family. Right now I am especially looking for contemporary middle grade, fantasy with a literary feel, and magical realism.

I always fall for: parallel universes, magical schools, disaster epics, heists, wishes, underdog sports teams, tournaments and competitions, magical undercities, “found families,” best friends who fall in love, slow-burn romances with a side order of mutual pining, and multigenerational family stories.