From Student to Literary Agent: The Journey of Eleanor Jackson ’02 and Professor Debra Spark

In a heartwarming reunion, Eleanor Jackson ’02 and her former professor, Debra Spark, find themselves in reversed roles as literary agent and author. Jackson was a student who arrived at Colby with a possible interest in the literary world, thanks to a family friend who exposed her to the field at a very young age. She remembers thinking in elementary school, “‘Oh my god, you can do this for a career?’ From a pretty young age, it was always in my head.” Nevertheless, she credits her work with Spark as the experience that led her into publishing.

As an English major and an art history minor, Jackson started working on her honor’s creative-writing thesis with Spark in 2002, and gradually realized that reading the work of others was at least as important to her as her own writing.  Jackson, now at  Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, has been an agent ever since she graduated from Colby! She represents a range of fiction and nonfiction categories, including literary, commercial, memoir, art, food, science, and history.

Over the last 22 years, the relationship between Jackson and Spark evolved from being student and professor to a thriving partnership. Jackson mentioned that the decision to be Spark’s publisher was the “most obvious thing in the world. It felt like the best and easiest transition. An extension of the relationship we already had.” You can read more about how their relationship evolved beyond Colby in the full feature by Bob Keyes.

Would you like to meet cool, interesting people doing cool, interesting things? Reach out! The Mule network of students and alumni is renowned for their loyalty and determination to pay it forward. Even better, DavisConnects has put together useful resources to help you expand your network.

By Youssif Mostafa
Youssif Mostafa