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Author & Agent Interview: Kaua Māhoe Adams and Sara Crowe

Today, we are thrilled to be interviewing Kaua Māhoe Adams, a Kanaka Maoli writer and author of the forthcoming YA novel in verse, AN EXPANSE OF BLUE, and her literary agent, Sara Crowe. You can learn more about Kaua on her website, Instagram, and Twitter, and more about Sara on her agency's website.


You can add Kaua's YA novel in verse, AN EXPANSE OF BLUE, to your Goodreads here.


We started this Author & Agent blog series to spotlight Pacific Islander creators and their agents for Asian and Pacific Islander month. Our hope is that this series will inspire other Pacific Islanders interested in pursuing traditional publishing as creators or as agents. As we learned in the creation of our website, there is not a single Pacific Islander agent, and we hope to see that change.


Thank you for joining us!



Kaua's Interview

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and the project for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?

I am a mixed Kanaka Maoli children's author with a passion for telling stories about the native diaspora. I grew up in Seattle, Washington, but now I live in sunny San Diego, California with my partner and our dog. I'm currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. If I'm not writing, you may find me dancing hula, practicing yoga, or spending time with my family!

 

AN EXPANSE OF BLUE (HarperCollins/Heartdrum, Summer 2026) is a young adult verse novel about a seventeen-year-old Hapa Hawaiian girl who feels trapped. Trapped by her critical father’s expectations, trapped by her mother's inaction, and trapped by her older sister’s big, perfect shadow. So when she discovers that her father is having an extramarital affair, everything she thinks she knows—about her family, her faith, and herself—unravels. Set against the backdrop of the Catholic Church, the protagonist goes on an emotional journey of reconciliation, loss, cultural reconnection, and first love to seek out something she can actually believe in. 

This story was born out of a poem I wrote during my third semester of graduate school. My advisor, author Melanie Crowder, encouraged me to write poems inspired by memories from my own childhood. Since church was such a large part of growing up for me, the first poem I wrote was about that experience. From there the story unfolded poem by poem until—by some miracle—a manuscript came to be!

What resources did you use to compile your list of agents to query? What criteria did you use to build your list?

There are so many resources out there for writers looking to query that I actually found it to be overwhelming at first! I had no idea where to start, so I began looking in the acknowledgement sections of my favorite books (especially the books that felt similar in spirit to my own manuscript) to figure out who represented my favorite authors. I might be revealing too much about myself here, but...I am not a fan of research! So podcasts became my best friend when it came time to educate myself about the querying process. Specifically, The Happy Writer Podcast's episodes on querying proved to be an approachable yet valuable resource for me. You can listen to my favorite episode about querying here. From there, I was able to compile a list of agents who felt like they could be a good match. However, if I had to do it again, I would start with Cynthia Leitch Smith's amazing resource for writers. Cynthia's website provides a well-organized database of information to help you find the answer to almost any question about writing for kids. You can find her resources on agents here. I was also really lucky to have friends who had already gone through the process to find their agents. Talking to people about their experiences made me realize that no one's journey to signing with an agent is the same, and that provided me with a lot of comfort!

 

While I didn't have a specific list of criteria to build my list, I knew I was looking for someone I felt comfortable around to ask questions, bounce ideas off, and collaborate with at every stage of the writing process. And ultimately, I wanted an agent who believed in me and my stories, someone who was as ecstatic to work with me as I was with them!

Did you tailor your query to each agent? 

I actually only queried ONE agent, and that agent turned out to be the agent I signed with—the wonderful Sara Crowe! For that one query letter though, I did tailor it to Sara specifically. I noticed that a lot of the information regarding query letters that I came across almost always encouraged the writer to find a way to personalize for each agent, so I made sure to prioritize that when drafting my letter. What about Sara made you query her?

There are so many reasons why I queried Sara! Her experience in the industry and the impressive authors on her list showed me that she has a wealth of knowledge to offer! Also, I met Sara at We Need Diverse Book's Native Children's and YA Writing Intensive last year. She was the visiting agent for the weekend and in addition to getting to hear her speak, I also had the opportunity to meet with her and talk about my work-in-progress. While the project I showed her at the time is not the one I queried her with, it was invaluable to get her feedback on my writing and her insight as an agent. That conversation, as well as the informal conversations I got to have with her over the course of the intensive proved that I could learn a lot from Sara, and that my stories and my career would be safely cared for in her hands. I knew from that weekend that I wanted her to be my agent! What advice would you give creators looking for representation?

It is so much easier said than done, but I encourage you not to compare yourself to other creators who are already represented. Everyone's path to signing with an agent is different. Your only goal should be to find an agent who is right for YOU because you and your stories deserve it. When Sara offered, what made you decide to sign with her? What criteria did you consider?

The way she spoke about my story is what solidified for me what I already knew. Sara loved the story I wrote, she believed in it, and saw what was special in it while I still struggled to see it myself. What advice would you give to Pacific Islander creators looking for representation?

Prioritize agents who can clearly demonstrate a commitment to uplifting Pacific Islander voices!

 

And, most importantly, do not let anyone throughout this process ever make you feel that there is not enough room for your story on the shelf. There is no ONE Pasifika story that can or "should" be told. How long have you been signed together? What’s your favorite thing about Sara?

I've been with Sara for a little more than three months. My favorite thing about Sara is that she never makes me feel silly for having a lot of questions! I always feel like I can reach out to her, and she never makes me feel like a burden.

 

Sara is one of the kindest people I have the pleasure of knowing! 

Sara's Interview


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