(Please note that Melissa only accepts agented queries.)
I often refer to myself as an “editor of all work,” meaning that I edit many genres, from horror and urban fantasy to mystery and thriller, to contemporary and commercial historical fiction.
My tastes are broad within genre as well; for instance, in horror, I edited Brian Lumley’s visceral Necroscope series as well as Ramsey Campbell’s emotionally intense The Darkest Part of the Woods. Works on my list feature sympathetic vampires, like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s legendary Saint-Germain, as well as blood-sucking menaces like those in Cat Adams’s Blood Singer novels. For me, horror and urban fantasy are closely related and I’m always looking for exciting, frightening, and unsettling books. In horror and UF, I’m also looking for a variety of settings and time-periods.
In thriller, my weakness is disaster stories. Too many Irwin Allen disaster movies in my youth, I guess. The disaster can be man-made or natural: floods, fires, deadly diseases, sinking ships, plane crashes, technology run amok, etc. I like disaster-in-motion as well as stories of investigations into causes and general villainy.
In mystery and suspense, I like procedurals a lot. Family suspense is good too, as are intelligent gothics. Female protagonists are a plus but not a requirement.
As for women’s fiction, I’m looking for works with older protagonists (anywhere from 35 up); stories of long-range relationships, of self-discovery (which can happen at any age), of coping with what life throws at you and thriving. I’m also interested in stories of people in their late teens and early twenties, who are figuring out what’s next after high school and starting to live in the wider world, whether they are in college or not. In terms of historical fiction, almost any period is fair game, and I’m also looking for non-Western cultures. I’m interested in contemporary immigration stories as well as historical ones and novels about POC in 20th and 21st century America. Caveat: if a work is set in a popular time period, like WWII or the Ellis Island immigration period, I will expect it to be something different or told from an unusual point of view.
I’d love to see more novels that reflect the present and past diversity of the world. Life is full of fascinating stories—as one of those native New Yorkers who loves striking up conversations with total strangers, I hear them all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “that would make a great book!” That’s what I look for most in submissions—a story more people should know, characters more people should meet.