Our Brain Trust

No matter what phase of a project, we work closely as a team to develop ideas and provide feedback to make sure the book is developing as powerfully and effectively as possible.

The visionaries we work with are often busy, and can sometimes need a collaborative writer to make the writing process more easeful, joyful, and successful. Our team includes writers that have been selected from the country’s best writing programs, and we have worked closely in cultivating and developing their skills as collaborative writers. Unlike most literary agencies, we also have an editorial director and developmental editor as full time team members to help shape our projects.

Ultimately, our goal is to deliver a book to the publisher that reaches its ideal expression and inspires readers around the world.

What We Do

  • Agenting
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Spontaneous dance parties
  • Changing the world

What We Don't Do

  • Stop working after selling the book
  • Give up
  • Ask for receipts
  • Stick to one time zone
  • Wait for others to change the world

Our Superpowers

  • Seeing the big idea
  • Starting the conversation
  • Radical collaboration
  • Influence for good
  • Turning ideas into action

Things We Love

  • Our authors
  • Our collaborators
  • Our families & friends
  • Being Idea Architects
  • Contributing to a better world

Doug Abrams

Founder & President

Lara Love Hardin

COO, Editorial Director

Katherine Vaz

Developmental Editor

Esmé Schwall Weigand

Assistant Editor, Senior Collaborative Writer

Ty Gideon Love

Assistant Editor, Contracts Manager, Project Manager

Cody Love

Director of Community Engagement

Mariah Sanford

Office Manager

Julia Dunn

Editorial Assistant, Writer Coordinator

Boo Prince

Director of Global Prospecting and Research

Sylvie Rabineau

Film Agent

Susie Nicklin

Translation Rights Agent

Jemma McDonagh

Translation Rights Agent

Camilla Ferrier

Translation Rights Agent

Aaron Shulman

Collaborative Writer

Lauren Hamlin

Collaborative Writer

Carrie Braman

Collaborative Writer

Amy Schleunes

Collaborative Writer

Alyssa Knickerbocker

Collaborative Writer

Jenny Davis

Collaborative Writer

Jordan Jacks

Collaborative Writer

Ruth Sheeroh Murega

Transcriptionist

Eric Rayman

Legal Counsel

Read a little more about us

Doug Abrams

Superpower //Dreaming up life-changing, culture-changing books while falling off surfboards and training for triathlons.

Doug is the Founder & President of Idea Architects. He is a former editor at the University of California Press and HarperCollins where he spent a decade trying to balance truth (with a small “t”) and Relevance (with a big “R”). He comes from a publishing family and learned about ideas, books, and culture around the dinner table. He has had the privilege of working on books for Nobel Peace Laureates Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Jody Williams. He has written books with Desmond Tutu for over a decade and most recently is the co-author of The Book of Joy with Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. His books have been credited with convincing then-President Bill Clinton to stop genocide and for launching the modern anti-slavery movement. He is currently the co-founder with Desmond Tutu and Pam Omidyar of Human Journey, which is using multimedia to spread visionary ideas that can improve our lives and our world.

He is also interested in the power of the Internet and multimedia to change culture and was on the founding team of JustGive.org, a philanthropy website that has pioneered new forms of giving and channeled over $300 million to charity.

Dialogue is key to Doug’s work, and he believes that genius is a collaborative process. His goal is to bring people together in a cultural conversation through books and media. Throughout all of his wide-ranging projects, Doug aspires to help build a prism through which life-changing conversations and experiences can be created and nourished. He has had the privilege of interviewing extraordinary global heroes including Jimmy Carter, Bono, Carlos Santana, Richard Branson, and many others.

He is the author of two novels that have been translated into over thirty languages.

He is married to Rachel Carlton Abrams, an integrative physician and the love of his life. They have three children, Jesse, Kayla, and Eliana. He can also be found riding waves where he lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Working with Doug Abrams at Idea Architects has been a wonderful joy. He is thoughtful, intelligent and really has a way of seeing the potential of a project. ~Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Lara Love Hardin

Superpower //Extreme production and reproduction. Stitching story threads.

Lara Love Hardin is the COO, Editorial Director, and Senior Collaborative Writer for Idea Architects. She holds an MFA in creative writing from UC Irvine and is a New York Times bestselling writer. Her many lives include backpacking nomad, radio talk show host, pet cemetery owner, and criminal justice advocate. She has also taught creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine, and is a published fiction writer. She lives in Santa Cruz, California with her husband, dog, cat, goldfish, and six (yes, six) children.

BOOK TITLES IN COLLABORATION WITH IDEA ARCHITECTS

  • Notes to the Future, Nelson Mandela
  • The Book of Forgiving, Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Mindsharing, Lior Zoref
  • Into the Magic Shop, James Doty
  • The Man's Guide to Women & The 8 Dates, John & Julie Gottman
  • Enjoy Every Sandwich, Lee Lipsenthal
  • Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
  • The Sun Does Shine, Anthony Ray Hinton

Thanks to Lara Love, our collaborative writer, for finding the true voice of Bill-and-Dave and crafting the words we’d have written if we were real writers like she. We so appreciate her patience in enduring countless hours of meetings, videos and recordings with no weakening of her ardor for the work or sincere affection for us. When our own energies were flagging, we could simply borrow from her bottomless well of cheerful readiness and productive availability. Lara demonstrated an incredible ability to listen deeply and then write us perfectly. She did not write for us or about us or on behalf of us. She wrote us, and we and every one of our readers are well served by her fine work.
(Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, Designing Your Life)

My first and foremost thank-you is to Lara Love Hardin, my partner in writing this book. We’ve spent countless hours together in which I’ve learned to admire and adore her gift with words. If writing a book is like having a baby—although the pregnancy is longer than nine months—then Lara is the proud mother. Lara, thank you for your amazing work and friendship. You have a very special place in my heart.
(Lior Zoref, Mindsharing)

Once the contract was signed, I suddenly realized the burden I had accepted and the associated deadline for completion. Fortunately, Idea Architects came to the rescue by partnering this effort with their editorial director, Lara Love. At every stage, I could not have asked for a more helpful, diligent, and thoughtful person to guide me through the process of the writing and editing. Also her ability to turn a phrase, her talent for finding the critical details that bring a story to life, and her gentle nudging for me to go to places that often were uncomfortable and painful were critical to any success this book might achieve. For almost two years, Lara and I met twice weekly before sunrise, and it is through this period that she also became a close friend, and it is this friendship for which I am most grateful.
(James Doty, Into the Magic Shop)

Lara Love was our researcher, our literary companion, and our supporter through many drafts. She is an aptly named genius with a heart of gold. She is really very, very gifted.
(Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Book of Forgiving)

Katherine Vaz

Superpower //Inspiring writers to find their own inspiration. Discovering the poetry and music in all forms of language. Leaving her heart in Lisbon each year

Katherine Vaz, Idea Architects’ Developmental Editor, helps oversee all stages of producing book proposals and manuscripts, from conceptualizing to detailed editing. She was a Briggs-Copeland Fellow in Fiction at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Her novels include SAUDADE and MARIANA, the latter in six languages and selected by the Library of Congress as one of the Top 30 International Books of 1998. Her collection FADO & OTHER STORIES won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and OUR LADY OF THE ARTICHOKES & OTHER PORTUGUESE-AMERICAN STORIES won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Her newest book is a story-and-art hybrid, THE LOVE LIFE OF AN ASSISTANT ANIMATOR. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, including Tin House, BOMB, Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Guernica, The Sun, and Glimmer Train. Her children’s stories have appeared in anthologies from Viking, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Books.

She gives frequent lectures on the subjects of Luso-American culture, Portuguese literature, and magical realism. She’s the first Portuguese-American to have her work recorded for the archives of the Library of Congress (Hispanic Division) and was on the six-person U.S. Presidential Delegation to open the World’s Fair/Expo ’98 in Lisbon. Each summer, she returns to Lisbon to conduct an annual writing workshop with students of Luso-American, Brazilian, and Portuguese-African backgrounds during the Disquiet International Literary Conference.

A native Californian, Katherine lives in New York City with her husband, Christopher Cerf, son of Bennett Cerf, the founder of Random House. Christopher is an editor, Emmy- and Grammy-winning TV producer, author, satirist on the original National Lampoonstaff, and Sesame Street composer, in addition to being a fantastic rock’n’roll pianist with the world’s best smile.

Esmé Schwall Weigand

Superpower //Finding and transmitting the heart of a story. Lyrical prose & authentic voice.

Esmé Schwall Weigand is Senior Collaborative Writer and Assistant Editor at Idea Architects. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Her fiction and personal essays have appeared in The Normal School and Apalachee Review, among other publications. The Choice, her first Idea Architects collaboration, won a 2017 National Jewish Book Award and a 2018 Christopher Award, and is an international bestseller. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys playing her cello and racing her children up muddy mountainsides.

BOOK TITLES IN COLLABORATION WITH IDEA ARCHITECTS

  • The Choice, Dr. Edith Eva Eger
  • To Stop a Warlord, Shannon Sedgwick Davis (forthcoming)
  • The Awakened Brain, Dr. Lisa Miller (forthcoming)

"Esmé Schwall Weigand, my cowriter--you didn't just find the words. You became me. Thank you for being my ophthalmologist, for your ability to see my healing journey from so many different perspectives." ~Dr. Edith Eva Eger

"For Esmé Schwall Weigand, I’ve lost count of the number of times I wanted to give up on this book. Thank you for keeping me 'in it' and bringing my heart to its words and pages." ~Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Ty Gideon Love

Superpower //Shaping words to his will with mind-bending linguistic acrobatics. Eavesdropping in five languages.

Ty is our Assistant Editor, as well as our Contracts & Projects Manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Italian, from San Francisco State University–though he studied in both Florence, Italy for a year as well as at the University of Amsterdam for a year. At the office he helps with scheduling, proofreading, contracts, prospecting, editing, and helping the authors architect the DNA of their books. Outside of the office he speaks fluent English and Italian, with a proficiency in French, Dutch, and American Sign Language (with Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic on his list!). He is an aspiring writer who has been a winner in a national writing competition, and worked as a Gonzo-journalist from the ages of 15 to 20 years old. He’s happily reading world-changing books while writing his own.

Cody Love

Superpower //Creating inspiring stories that move people to tears while draining 3 pointers and playing guitar.

Cody Love is our Director of Community Engagement at Idea Architects. Cody Love is passionate about creating visually appealing stories for projects he believes can make a wiser, healthier, and more just world.  An aspiring film director, he graduated from CSULA with a degree in Television, Film and Media Studies.  Cody’s portfolio boasts a wide range of projects including Documentaries, Short Films, Promotional Videos, Music Videos, and Social Media Content.  He is most proud of the work he did helping to create short videos for the launch of The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which were viewed by over 2 million people.  When he steps away from video production, Cody, a former college basketball player, enjoys playing basketball with his five siblings, hiking, traveling, playing guitar and occasionally lounging on the beach.

Mariah Sanford

Superpower //The firm belief that “No job is too small, and no challenge too great.” Radiating compassion through service.

Mariah Sanford is our office manager and resident dance party curator. In addition to all things administrative, she aids in rapid-fire transcription, scheduling, copyediting, and keeping everyone satiated with healthy snacks. In her spare time you can find her studying psychology, writing, drawing, and keeping a fiction and non-fiction book in constant rotation. She lives in Soquel with her cat.

Julia Dunn

Superpower //Transforming adversity into power and passion. catching the tiniest of typos. Embodying the frantically upbeat spirit of Outkast’s 2003 hit song, “Hey Ya.”

Julia Dunn is an Editorial Assistant and Writer Coordinator at Idea Architects, providing project support and overseeing IA’s collaborative writers search. She is a graduate of the creative writing program in poetry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in literature and served as co-editor-in-chief of Chinquapin Literary Magazine for three years. Julia is passionate about social justice and aspires to help others find empowerment through writing and community engagement. She is currently working on an MFA in creative nonfiction at San Jose State University, where she will also be teaching first-year writing, rhetoric and composition. Her poetry has appeared in Red Wheelbarrow Anthology, Matchbox Magazine, and two anthologies by Z Publishing House: California’s Best Emerging Poets and America’s Best Emerging Poets.

When not furiously typing or checking email, Julia can be found devouring berries at the local farmer’s market, judging poetry slams, analyzing her every action, and giggling the day away while scheduling every minute of it in her calendar. Originally from Santa Rosa, CA, Julia resides in downtown San Jose with her partner.

Boo Prince

Superpower //Insatiable curiosity with incredible capacity for courageous conversation. Voice and broadcast maven.

After many years of experience as a radio talk show host, journalist, and voice artist, Boo can spot a story like her Siamese cat can spot a Sunday roast. On a quest to discover the next generation of global visionaries, Boo stalks the smartest and most interesting people on earth to find the next big idea that will help us create a wiser, healthier, more just world. While she is totally at home behind the microphone, (having voiced more than 3000 commercials), Boo is most inspired by helping others find their best voice. She has a Bachelors degree in Communication, Journalism and Literature. Boo lives in Johannesburg with her husband, their two little boys, and three treat-seeking Siameses.

Sylvie Rabineau

Superpower //Being the ultimate advocate for writers who aspire to see their stories on screen. Empowering authors to adapt their own material and become multi-hyphenate talents.

Sylvie Rabineau is the co-head of WME’s Literary Packaging Department. She ran her own boutique literary agency, RWSG, for 18 years before WME acquired the agency in October of 2016. Sylvie represents, hand in hand with publishing agents, a curated list of authors, screenwriters, and television creators from across the globe. Sylvie is a passionate reader who has built her career around reading and discussing stories that will become entertainment for the world.

Susie Nicklin

Superpower //

Susie, CEO of the MILD group and the Marsh Agency, began her career at The Bodley Head publishers and as a translation rights agent before becoming Director of English PEN and subsequently Director of Literature at the British Council. She represents writers, sells foreign rights, works as a bookseller and curates and chairs literary events.

 

Photo credit: Sarah Hickson

Jemma McDonagh

Superpower //Enthusiastic plate-spinner. Selling translation rights throughout the world and many time zones with minimal breakages.

Jemma joined the Marsh Agency in 2010 and is now Rights Director. She started her publishing career in the editorial department at Orion, before moving into rights selling at Gregory & Company Authors’ Agents. Jemma sells translation rights in over 20 languages and works with our clients on the sale of UK rights.

Camilla Ferrier

Superpower //Cheerfully selling translation rights in every language possible. Helpful tall person skills (reaching for books on high shelves, etc).

Camilla has been the MD of the Marsh Agency since 2012 and with the company since 2002 having started her publishing career at HarperCollins. Alongside her managerial role she sells translation rights across the agency’s client base in multiple translation territories and represents a number of Estates worldwide.

Aaron Shulman

Superpower //Helping highly specialized scientists who casually use terms like "extra-dimensional bypass" to connect with non-scientist readers like himself.

Aaron is one of our writers and a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Montana. Aaron loves working with visionary researchers whose books change the way he sees his world and the people in it. A former Fulbright scholar to Guatemala, his work has appeared in The New Republic, The American Scholar, and The Believer, and he is a regular contributor to The Los Angeles Review of Books. He is currently writing a narrative history of the Paneros of Spain, a family of strange, brilliant poets whose lives traversed many of the 20th century’s important moments.

Lauren Hamlin

Superpower //Disentangling the Gordian knots of narrative whilst swaddled in layers of fleece, wool, and/or polypropylene.

Lauren Hamlin has her MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana where she taught both composition and creative writing. In Montana, she served as fiction editor of Cutbank and was the recipient of a Nettie Weber Scholarship and a UM Excellence Fund grant, which supported projects and writing residencies in Argentina and Spain. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Fourteen Hills, Poets & Writers, and Sparkle and Blink. After a lap or two around the adjunct pool at community college, she decided to make like Kurt Vonnegut and go into copywriting. Along with health insurance, she gained an appreciation for tight sentence construction and acquired an unsettling ability to mimic authorial voice. In 2013, she was a resident at the Vermont Studio Center, where she continued her work on a post-apocalyptic, but zombieless, novel that aims to tickle the sweet spot between genre and literary fiction. At Idea Architects, she loves to help authors fine-tune their voice and tell the stories that will crater into the hearts and minds of readers. She lives in Portland, Maine.

Carrie Braman

Superpower //Knitting multiple thematic threads into a single narrative. (And physically knitting, which she can do with her eyes closed.)

Carrie earned an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Montana and writes creative essays on a variety of topics, from her mother’s life as an artist to food history to the Boston Marathon bombings. Since graduating from Bennington College in 2003, she has taught in a series of diverse and challenging settings, including an elementary classroom at a Deaf school, a program for students with behavioral and emotional issues, a tiny residential high school for at-risk youth, and in the literature department at Unity College. She also owns and operates an organic maple sugaring business with her husband in backwoods Maine. She was a finalist for Narrative Magazine’s 30 Below Story Contest in 2009 and the recipient of a President’s Fund Writing and Research Grant from the University of Montana. Her work has recently appeared in Downeast Magazine.

Amy Schleunes

Superpower //Combining a neurobiology major's passion for science with the choreographic instincts of a ballerina.

Amy holds an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she taught creative writing and ballet, and a BA from Cornell University, where she studied neurobiology, theater, and dance. At Idea Architects, she enjoys continuing to explore the many connections between scientific inquiry and creative endeavor. Her stories and essays appear in Fourth Genre, The Missouri Review, Seneca Review, and other literary journals, and her plays have been featured at the Great Plains Theater Conference and the Iowa New Play Festival. She is currently at work on a novel, for which she was awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, the Edward F. Albee Foundation, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.

Alyssa Knickerbocker

Superpower //Creator of characters, maker of metaphors, master of description. High-functioning on very little sleep.

Alyssa holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was the Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Axton Fellow in Fiction at the University of Louisville, where she directed a literary festival on “time travel” in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, exploring the different ways that writers leap into the past and future in their work. Her essays, which focus on motherhood, identity, and childbirth, have appeared most recently in Tin House and American Short Fiction’s parenting column “Bourbon and Milk.” Her fiction has appeared widely in journals and magazines and she is at work on a novel set in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, where she lived for many years and worked as an environmental educator, sailing instructor, challenge course facilitator, and bus driver. She lives on the Kitsap Peninsula with her husband–a science teacher–and their two little boys, who would love a dog/cat /rabbit/lizard/anything. (She is currently winning this fight and has no pets.)

Jenny Davis

Superpower //Concision.

Jenny is one of IA’s collaborative writers and a graduate of the MFA program in nonfiction writing at the University of Iowa, where she taught writing and served as Art Director for Defunct Magazine.  Her essays are largely concerned with navigating uncertainty; they have appeared in literary magazines including Gettysburg Review, Creative Nonfiction,andHayden’s Ferry Review,and have twice been cited as “notable” essays in the Best American Essays series. After Iowa, she went to Guangzhou, China, where she became a founding member of the Sun Yat-sen University Centre for Creative Writing in English, led the SYSU National Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival team in competition, and taught courses in narrative journalism and creative writing. Since coming back to the U.S., Jenny has worked as an academic advisor at Washington State University and as a writer for Whitman College. She currently lives in northern Idaho.

Jordan Jacks

Superpower //A sense of rhythm, both behind the keyboard and a set of drums.

Jordan Jacks holds an M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. in English from Yale. His fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review,The Yale Review, Weekday,Territory, and The Organist, the podcast from KCRW and McSweeney’s.  Jordan was the 2015-2016 James C. McCreight Fellow in Fiction at The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and has been awarded scholarships and/or residencies from Bread Loaf, The Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Key West Literary Seminar, St. Albans School, Washington University in St. Louis, and The James Merrill House.

 

Originally from Texas, he lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is finishing his first novel and a collection of short stories.

Ruth Sheeroh Murega

Superpower //Turns the rapid-fire dialogues of our visionaries into coherent text.

Ruth is a freelance transcriber who’s been working online for the past four years on freelance sites such as Elance, Upwork, Fiverr and Rev.com. She has worked extensively with our team to transcribe the brilliant conversations that our authors have with our collaborative writers and us. When she’s not transcribing or updating her latest blog post on her blog, you’ll find her enjoying family time, reading a nice fiction book, or watching the latest episode of the Blacklist series.

Eric Rayman

Superpower //All things legal.

Eric was general counsel to The New Yorker magazine from 1998 to 2000, and Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Simon & Schuster from 1984-1998. Between 1980 and 1984, he was Chief Counsel, Studio and Network Operations at Home Box Office. He began his career at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, where he practiced law from 1977 to 1980. Since 1988, Eric has taught media and entertainment law at Cardozo School of Law, where he is an Adjunct Professor.

Eric is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler, and a producer of the feature film FireDancer and the documentary film Return to Afghanistan. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Harvard College and serves on the boards of The Harvard Lampoon, No Strings and the Charles Addams Foundation.