The Austin Chronicle


By Clay Smith, July 13, 2001, Books

A Room of Hornfischer's Own

Austin literary agent Jim Hornfischer hasn't been sleeping. He's taking the bar at the end of the month, he and his wife Sharon, the author of last fall's What to Do When Your Baby Is Premature (Times Books, $16) have three children, and he recently founded his own agency, Hornfischer Literary Management Inc., after eight years with the Literary Group, an agency headquartered in New York, known for handling celebrity books. Hornfischer has steadily built up a reputation for deft management of authors writing narrative nonfiction, history, biography -- nonfiction of all kinds, really. Flags of Our Fathers (2000), by James Bradley and Ron Powers, about the Battle of Iwo Jima, is a book he agented (it was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, and the film rights have been sold to DreamWorks; Austin's Bill Broyles is writing the screenplay). Among local authors' books, he's the agent for Texas A&M professor and Austin resident H.W. Brands' The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (Doubleday, $35), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer this year. His clients also include Texas writers Jan Reid, Mary Beth Rogers (Barbara Jordan: American Hero), Don Graham, the Chronicle's Margaret Moser, and Bill Crawford, among others. And, oh yeah, Hornfischer is writing a book titled The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Battle off Samar, about a historically neglected World War II battle. But that's kind of on the back burner; it's his "midnight project" (Bantam, publisher of Flags of Our Fathers, will be publishing Tin Can Sailors).

"It was just time after eight years," Hornfischer says about the decision to be on his own. "If money was the reason, I would have done it a long time ago. I've had a good working relationship with Frank Weimann, who's the head of Literary Group, but once you know what you're doing, most people do wind up starting their own agencies, unless they've got some kind of annuity for life with William Morris."


There's space available for those who want to attend the Writers' League of Texas' Agents! Agents! Agents! ... & Editors Too! Conference July 20-22 at the Red Lion Hotel (6121 N. I-35), but only a limited number of private consults with agents and editors are still open. Registration is $185 for League members, $245 for non-members. Call 499-8914… Joe Holley, the Insight editor at the San Antonio Express-News, will present the monthly program for the Writers' League of Texas on Thursday, July 19, at the First Unitarian Universalist Church (4700 Grover). Refreshments are served at a networking session at 7pm; the program begins at 7:30. Holley will talk about "concrete pleasures … the need in our writing to be specific and concrete, not vague and abstract." Open and free to the public… Slam news: The 2001 Slam Team has been chosen for Nationals: Ernie Cline, Ragan Fox, Jeff Knight, Sara Sutterfield Winn, and Susan B. Anthony Summers-Willet. On Saturday, July 14, at 7pm, at the Mercury (214 E. Sixth, above Jazz restaurant), the slam team is hosting a regional competition (Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas). The original Austin Poetry Slam Team -- circa 1995 -- is one of the teams in the Texas Slam Regionals. That's Mike Henry, Genevieve Van Cleve, Wammo, and Phil West. "We're, y'know, old," Henry says… Funny girl Lindsey Stokes, author of Planet Idiot: A Survival Guide (Greenwich Press, $21.95) believes idiocy is innate, instilled in our DNA, and that it comes in a "rainbow of flavors." She'll be at Barnes & Noble Arboretum, Tuesday, July 17, at 6:30pm.

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