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A Q&A with Agent Kathryn Willms

We wanted to get to know The Rights Factory’s newest agent, Kathryn Willms, a bit better. So we decided to subject her to a version of the famous Proustian Questionnaire. It’s fascinating what you can learn about a person from their greatest regret...

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A summer day. Craft beer. My husband. A good book. Feet in Lake Huron.

What is your greatest fear?

Falling off the chairlift. I’m not even afraid of heights, but I am afraid of public humiliation and having time to think through the consequences of not lowering the safety bar. Also, anything touching my leg while in a deep body of water. When I left home one of my major fears was my parents would throw out all my favourite childhood books. Well, they just moved, and they packed the storage container with so many books that the crane tipped over when it tried to lift it onto the truck. What a relief.

Who are your favourite writers?

Ha, this is a really unfair question. Already with the agency, I’ve encountered some new “favourite” writers. The list is out of control. I plead the fifth. Here are a few books though that I can’t get enough of:

Unless by Carol Shields; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin; Coventry by Rachel Cusk; The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles; Among the Thugs by Bill Buford; Lincoln by Gore Vidal; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

What or who is the great love of your life?

It’s my husband, but he would say it’s “sleep.”

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Honestly, I don’t think I can live through another Game 7 loss to Boston in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Thank you, Canadian Bubble! Auston, baby, let’s do this! [Editor: Toronto Maple Leafs fans are the worst.]

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Fictionalized Abraham Lincolns. Oooh, or Thomas Cromwell.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Catherine the Great. Let’s put me in charge and see what happens.

Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability the best writers have to create a world we fall into and never want to leave. The great part of this gig is now I get to work with those writers! Also, I would love a caustic wit – to be able to really devastatingly insult someone. Not that I would do it, of course – I would just like to know I could.

What is your greatest regret?

Not owning a hot tub. People who pandemic-purchased a hot tub, invite me over! This is not a regret because I love where I live, but I wish I could see my family more often. They are the funniest and weirdest people I know.

How would you like to die?

In a canopied bed, surrounded by paid staff, wealthy and bored with too much stuff. That’s why I’m in book publishing! We live above a fruit store and I imagine one day we’ll fall through due to the weight of our bookshelves. Might not be my first choice, but seems apt.

Interested in pitching Kathryn? Click here to submit a query on Query Tracker. You can also follow Kathryn on Twitter @knwillms.

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