Jennifer Azantian is the founder of Azantian Literary where she focuses primarily on fiction across age groups.
Established in 2014, Azantian Literary is committed to guiding the careers of both new and established voices, particularly those who have been historically underrepresented. Whether a heartwarming contemporary, a speculative mystery, or a grand epic fantasy, we look for the universal truths in our stories that connect us all.
In graphic novel, Jennifer is currently open to both middle grade and YA across genres. She’s looking for emotionally complex projects from contemporary to fantasy and everything in-between, with a particular soft spot for inter-generational stories, immigrant stories, and magical realism. If you can make her feel like THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER, you’ll have her. The illustrations are stunning and the characters leap off the page, making you care about them from moment one. Two other recent favorites are GHOSTS, where the central sister story and the explorations of chronic illness had her hooked, and THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY, that grabbed her with its lush art and sweet, heartwarming story (plus it features two of her favorite things: tea and dragons). As always, she’s actively seeking to champion graphic novels from historically underrepresented authors.
In MG, Jennifer would love to find some creepy or spooky stories that are still age-appropriate like CORALINE. Stories that don’t forget how hard it was to be young but told with a whimsy that undercuts those hard times like in a lot of Roald Dahl’s work. Stories that dig into the deeper questions like A WRINKLE IN TIME and THE GIVER. Lyrical stories like THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON. And well-written adventures like GREGOR THE OVERLANDER and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. She thinks the most difficult thing to get right in middle grade is remembering just how complex a time it was. She knows a middle grade is hitting the right notes for her when, even if she’s loving the read, she has that subtle fear of never wanting to be twelve-years-old ever again!
In YA, the most important thing she’s looking for is a great voice. Though she is predominantly interested in stories with a speculative element, a recent master-class in incredible voice that is worth mentioning is THE HATE U GIVE. Another book that reminded her of being a teen and also touched on difficult topics, though she wishes it went even further, was TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN. In SFF, she likes well-crafted worlds like in STEELHEART and GRACELING, fresh takes on well-trodden tropes like in THE FIFTH WAVE and LEGEND, and beautiful, heartbreaking stories like THE BOOK THIEF. Young adult is also a prime place to explore those very real, yet heightened teen emotions. She thinks it may be her favorite age group for a psychological thriller with speculative elements or a good group mystery where something very weird is going on and the setting is viscerally engaging with the characters.
In Adult, she’d love to find a transportive fantasy with an incredible sense of place that pulls her in from the first page like A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC or THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. YA crossover and found family like in RED RISING. Beautiful, literary writing (always) like in NEVERWHERE, OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, and THE NIGHT CIRCUS. If you can make her connect in a long-form story the way Ken Liu did in The Paper Menagerie (and pretty much his entire short-story collection), you’ll have her. And, of course, sprawling, well-thought-out epics like THE WAY OF SHADOWS and THE NAME OF THE WIND. She particularly enjoys dark epics and morally grey characters, but is always excited to see hopeful or humorous stories, as well. In SF and psychological horror (no straight horror please, her imagination is scary enough), she’s looking for grounded stories that explore the “what ifs” within our minds, our social circles, our cultures, and our world. Some of her favorite novels are ones that make a seemingly small change and follow that to their unavoidable ends or show her a future that feels surreal, yet inevitable.
Most importantly throughout all the above interests and across age groups, Jennifer is committed to supporting underrepresented voices and sharing those stories (from the deeply personal to the most fantastic—or both)!