Question & AnswersCategory: GeneralQuestion to Polly Nolan
Sam Savelli asked 4 years ago

I was getting ready to submit my novel to you at greenhouse but then, as I read through your profile on ‘The Team’ page I then read ‘please do not send…books where the protagonist is a talking bird (though she does love a good animal story)’. This stopped me in my tracks, since the main characters in my book are a team of birds, so I just wanted to ask why this, in particular, is something that you don’t want? Was this actually something specific against birds or was this just your way of saying that you don’t like books involving talking animals, but are open to ‘animal stories’, meaning stories about normal, mute, animals?

Polly Nolan Staff replied 4 years ago

Thanks for your question. This is just a personal thing. I like birds as a rule, but when it comes to fiction cannot suspend disbelief quite enough to believe that they can talk like humans. I’ve felt the same since childhood. I don’t want to waste writers’ time by encouraging people to send me something where there is high probability that I won’t believe in it enough to offer representation. For some reasons – and who knows the logic of these things?! – I can believe in talking animals and so am always open to reading about them. All of this just goes to show what a subjective business we’re in here!

1 Answers
Polly Nolan Staff answered 4 years ago

Thanks for your question – and thank you for taking such care over our submission guidelines.  Hugely appreciated.  My feelings about talking birds are a personal thing. I like birds, but I can never suspend disbelief quite enough to believe that they can talk like humans.  I’ve felt like this since childhood. I therefore don’t want to waste writers’ time but encouraging people to send me material where there is a high probability that I won’t believe in it enough to offer representation, especially when there are probably dozens of agents out there who do like a bird that can chatter.  Talking animals are a different kettle of fish (pun intended).  For unfathomable reasons, I can believe in those, and, yes, I am always after a terrific animal story, whether the animals are anthropomorphic or not.