After grad school, a literary agent in New York City contacted me unsolicited to ask if she could read my two novel manuscripts. For a minute, it was exciting to wait and see if the agency would rep me.
Spoiler: they passed.
It was just as well. After reading my story, Coast Highway 101, the agent emailed to say she liked my writing (probably a blow off) but didn’t see how she could sell it as a first book (even more likely a blow off). One of her chief sources of confusion was the setting. The entire story, a part of which you can read here, happens along the Pacific coastline of the North County San Diego town I grew up in. As is often the case, her East Coast bias was showing in her assessment of the story.
“One issue is that setting,” she wrote. “You spend so much time building San Diego. Isn’t it just L.A. South?”
It’s best she said that early on. I would have hated to have that come up after contracts were signed. I mean, that’s just an insult to both cities.