From First-Year Roomies to Publishing Success
This is a story of a creative partnership, Hamilton style. It began when strangers Danielle Burby and Jordyn Taylor, both Class of 2012, were assigned as first-year roommates. In the latest chapter of the continuing friendship, Taylor will publish her first novel, The Paper Girl of Paris, a book for young adults, in the summer of 2020. Burby, of the Nelson Literary Agency, brokered the deal with HarperCollins. Here is their joint account of how it happened.
Danielle and Jordyn were paired as first-year roommates in a Keehn double. Before arriving on College Hill, they talked on the phone and bonded over a love of books — Harry Potter in particular — and Broadway musicals. They had a good feeling they’d get along. That first year, they had a blast. They adopted two cacti and named them after characters in Spring Awakening. They took a theatre class together and got paired for a scene from The Glass Menagerie, a play they both loved. They did a lot of singing and tea-drinking and just hanging out together.
They were happy living together, so why mess up a good thing? Danielle and Jordyn lived near each other in Bundy East sophomore year, and shared a Milbank suite senior year. (They would have lived together junior year, too, but Danielle studied abroad in Scotland.) They always supported each other; Danielle went to Jordyn’s plays, and Jordyn went to Danielle’s a cappella concerts. They cooked meals together in their Milbank suite and sat around talking about Jane Austen, as two book-loving ladies are wont to do.
After graduation, Danielle began her career in publishing, and Jordyn began her master’s in journalism at New York University. Danielle, who was living on Long Island, would visit Jordyn in the city — at some point they developed a tradition of buying two-for-one theatre tickets during Broadway Week. Eventually Danielle moved to Queens, and when Jordyn finished her NYU program and got her first job in journalism, she moved there, too!
Some things that define their friendship: weekly Bachelor/Bachelorette viewing parties on Monday nights; escape rooms; Renaissance fairs; beach days on Long Island; afternoons at Astoria coffee shops where they INTEND to work on their own writing projects but end up talking for five hours straight. In December 2016, when Jordyn married Tim Gray (also a 2012 Hamilton grad), Danielle was a bridesmaid.
Job: Literary Agent, Nelson Literary Agency
Education: Creative Writing and Women's Studies double-major
Jordyn’s first job was at the New York Observer, where — among other things — she wrote recaps of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Danielle thought they were hilarious, and together, they concocted an idea for a murder-mystery novel that took place on the set of a reality TV dating show. The came close to selling that book, but it didn't work out. Jordyn, now determined to fulfill her lifelong goal of publishing a novel, came up with a new idea for a women's fiction book. That one also came close to selling, but again, no luck.
Job: Deputy Editor, MensHealth.com
Education: History and Theatre double-major; Master's in Journalism, New York University
As Danielle and Jordyn worked on figuring out their next approach, Danielle happened to hear that Harper Collins was looking for an author to write a historical fiction, young adult novel about the French Resistance during World War II. As a former history major who focused on that exact time period, Jordyn had the perfect credentials. After Jordyn submitted a sample of the novel she could write, they made an offer!
After around five-and-a-half months of intense research and writing, Jordyn and Danielle submitted Jordyn’s manuscript. The announcement of the book came out in early March — The Paper Girl of Paris comes out Summer 2020.