New Leaf Literary & Media, the lit firm behind the Divergent franchise as well as films such as American Honey, has signed hot newcomer writer Rena Barron for representation.
Barron wrote The Last Witchdoctor, a debut novel that is currently making the rounds and generating buzz in publishing circles. The book was showcased in last month’s PitchWars contest, where it became the most requested YA manuscript in the online contest’s six-year history, with 43 lit agents going after it.
Set in a West African-inspired fantasy kingdom and having a tone comparable to Wonder Woman, Last Witchdoctor centers on a young woman who fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can't even cast the simplest curse. In fact, she fails so much that her witchdoctor mother conjures a better daughter, one whose power soon threatens to destroy everything in its path. Now the young woman must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to defeat her sister.
New Leaf principal Joanna Volpe, agent Suzie Townsend and head of film and television Pouya Shahbazian flew to Chicago within 12 hours of reading the manuscript to meet the author, snatching her off the market.
Barron, who lives in Chicago and works at an ad agency, grew up in Alabama and as a child learned of vodun, a religion that later found offshoots in voodoo. It was this background that served as an inspiration for the story.