Kayla Lightner

Kayla Lightner

Kayla Lightner joined Liza Dawson Associates as an agent assistant in 2018. A Georgia native, Kayla holds a B.A. in English from Vassar College. Before joining the LDA team full-time, Kayla interned at the agency in the summer of 2017.  She has also held various positions including fashion market intern at Harper’s Bazaar, editorial assistant at Creative Loafing Atlanta, and freelance writer at Creative Loafing Atlanta.

What she's looking for

Kayla loves discovering diverse and fresh new perspectives across commercial fiction, literary fiction, and non-fiction. She’s particularly a fan of authors with singular voices that masterfully straddle the line between story-telling and teaching readers something new.

Within Commercial Fiction, she’s looking for…

  • Speculative Fiction that introduces the reader to some secret/obscure society that plays a significant (but unknown) role in the workings of the world like Big Machine by Victor Lavalle and The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead.
  • Science Fiction that integrates west indie or African folklore like Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson and the Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor; Novels that take place in a hierarchic/flawed society that blurs the lines between utopia and dystopia in the tradition of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; A story about an fleshed out, multi-dimensional, and unapologetically ruthless female dictator with a complicated past.
  • Horror grounded in history, dealing with race, or revealing that real people/social institutions can be far more terrifying than fictionalized monsters, like Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys.
  • Fantasy that contains  a unique, non-Eurocentric pantheon, gods that interfere in the lives of mortals, and comprehensive magic systems that are rooted in African, Caribbean, or West Indian folklore like Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring; Stories with magical realism elements set in isolated southern towns like Mama Day by Gloria Naylor.
  • Domestic Thrillers that are smart, fast-paced, and make the reader squeal in delight as they get to watch messy characters reap what they sow– if you took any article from The Cut  and turned it into a novel.

Within Literary Fiction, she’s looking for…

  • Short Story collections that explore the experiences of black women  in a manner that is both funny and poignant like Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
  • Satire (either as a short story collection or a novel) that pokes fun at the “American Dream” in the vein of George Saunders Civilwarland in Bad Decline or Paul Beety’s The Sellout. 
  • Family Sagas that are rooted in the immigrant experience like Zadie Smith’s White Teeth or that wrestle with the sins of the mother, father, and daughter too like Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Within Nonfiction, she’s looking for…

  • Narrative Nonfiction  that teaches the reader something about an overlooked demographic, their way of life,  and how they see the world like J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy or Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Would also love to work with a female sports journalist that covers female coaches in the NBA. 
  • Memoirs about growing up in the south (bonus points if you can incorporate southern cuisine/soul food); the experiences of first-generation college students at prestigious PWI’s (like Casey Gerald’s There Will Be No Miracles Here); and the experiences of WOC in comedy.
  • Essay Collections  that are smart, funny, and speak to girlhood and womanhood like Morgan Jerkins’ This Will Be My Undoing or mental health like I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying  by Bassey Ikpi; or that talk about horror movie history and tropes.


Kayla Lightner is closed to queries as of March 27th, 2020.