Interview: Literary Agent Andrea Somberg

Romance writers’ Organization of South Africa is having their annual romance conference (for more info:, and this year it will be held in the lush wine region and university town Stellenbosch (go Maties! Yes I form part of the alumni *smile*). The conference will have a variety of sessions to choose from, and pitching opportunities with publishers and agents. Literary Agent Andrea Somberg was kind enough to come on Inside These Lines, and tell us more about herself, as well as what she’s going to look for at #ROSACon2015


Photo on 9-17-13 at 5.45 PM

An agent for over 15 years, I represent a wide range of fiction and nonfiction. My clients’ books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers, as well as nominated for RITA awards, The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. I also teach courses for MediaBistro and Writers Digest.

1) What are you looking for in a piece of fiction?

For fiction I am looking for an engaging narrative voice and compelling, multi-dimensional characters.

2) When you’re looking at query letters/pitches, what are some things that make you sit up and pay attention?

There are two things that I’m most interested in learning from your query letter:
Who are your protagonists, and what makes them sympathetic and unique?
What is the primary conflict of your book?
I also love when authors include the opening pages so I can get a sense of their writing and narrative style.

3) Tell us five things in the query process that can make you want to reject something immediately.

I’m pretty forgiving! If someone is confrontational, I tend to steer clear, but other than that I give serious consideration to every query.

4) Describe the perfect approach from a prospective client.

The best way for someone to contact me is to send an email to including a query letter and some sample pages in the body of an email.

5) What’s your advice to the authors who will be pitching to you at #ROSACon2015?

Be prepared to tell me about your protagonists and the conflict of your book. There needs to be something keeping your hero and heroine apart–what is it? Other than that, have fun! I know that this can be a nerve-wracking process, but I understand that, just because you might not be great at talking about your book, doesn’t mean you’re not a great writer!

*Thank you Andrea for stopping by!*


Want to know more about Andrea, you can connect with her here:
Twitter: @andreasomberg

Multi-Award Winning SA Author Jayne Bauling

Today I’m interviewing Jayne Bauling, who will be a Speaker at the #ROSACon2015 (for more info: ). If you’re attending the conference, Jayne’s session on Lessons I learned from Writing Romance will be on Saturday the 26th of September. So without further introduction, here’s Jayne.

Jayne Bauling author photo

1. Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m the author of twenty-one novels and one non-fiction book, and even after so many books, I still experience moments of amazement, when it hits me all over again, that hey, I really am a writer, the career I decided on when I was about five, with no idea what being a writer actually entailed! The first seventeen of those novels were romances, published by Mills & Boon, since when I have moved on to writing YA novels, four so far. My short stories, for both adults and youth, have been published in a number of anthologies. I grew up in Johannesburg, and now live in White River, Mpumalanga, close enough to the Kruger Park to drop in for a morning and get home in time for an afternoon’s writing. I adore cats, and used to breed Siamese, and I love reading, red wine and bird-watching.

*Truly an amazing career*

2. What inspires you to write?

Everyone I meet, everywhere I go, snatches of conversation overheard, sights glimpsed, issues and events in the news: all fuel my imagination. It’s the idea of being able to share my stories with others that motivates me and stops me procrastinating … well, eventually.

3. What project are you most excited about right now?

My latest YA novel, Soccer Secrets, from Cover2Cover Books, because it has just been published, and there are plenty of events happening around its release, in Gauteng, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. It’s the story of Zinzi, a teen who is brilliant at soccer but is hiding a terrible secret; Luyanda senses she’s in trouble, but he is finding it impossible to get her to open up to him, and he needs to do some detective work to confirm his suspicions. Cover2Cover are linking the book’s release to a great Reading for Pleasure campaign.

*That’s wonderful and sounds like a interesting story*

4. Which authors are you currently hooked on? Any recommendations.

I’ve just read The Cuckoo’s Calling by J K Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith and I’m in awe of her talent for creating fascinating characters you genuinely care about, so I can’t wait to read more of her Cormoran Strike books. I’ve also recently started reading Cat Hellisen’s fantasy fiction; she writes so gorgeously.

5. If one of your books could be made into a movie, which one? And why?

I keep changing my mind about the answer to this one, one of my romances set in the world of mountaineering, or one of my YAs, which a number of people have suggested would make really edgy movies? Let me go with Dreaming of Light (Tafelberg), because it includes the drama and danger of life in an illegal gold mine, the psychological effect of such a life on the young men and boys forced to work there, the adventure of escape, and a journey made in hope, as the cynical 18-year-old Regile gets drawn into the belief of the younger Taiba and their abusive handler’s daughter, Katekani, that a better life is possible. Then there’s Regile’s awkward but tender relationship with Katekani, so there would be something for everyone in such a movie!

*Thank you Jayne, it was great getting to know you. Conference goers have a lovely Speaker to look forward to*


Dreaming of light cover by Hanneke du Toit

“ It’s a story like smoke, I think. No one can catch it because there’s nothing there.”
In the heat and darkness underground, Regile Dlamini has stopped believing in anything much. Boys trafficked from their home countries, kept captive and con¬trolled by a man they call Papa Mavuso, forced to work in an illegal gold mine near Barberton: their lives are brutal, terrifying and frequently short.
In contrast to Regile, the young Taiba Nhaca steadfastly believes in the legend of Spike Maphosa, a zama zama who is said to have escaped the horror of life in a mine. The inhumane conditions and savage beatings cannot shake Taiba’s faith, something Regile finds disturb¬ing. Above ground, Papa Mavuso’s daughter Katekani shares Taiba’s belief that their lives can change for the better, but Regile wants nothing to do with their unrealistic dreaming.
Is Katekani right when she tells him the mine has stolen his soul? Or is it his humanity that is lost?

Links to where you can buy Soccer Secrets and Dreaming of Light:

Trailer for Dreaming of Light:

Jayne Bauling Writer on Facebook:

Follow @JayneBauling on Twitter: