Our agents are always looking for new material to read. Take a look at their profiles and see if your novel matches what they are searching for. Below is the New Writing Team consisting of assistants from across the company who also read manuscripts and work alongside our literary agents.
Most simply put I am looking for good stories, compellingly told. The books on my list have one thing in common, the combination of a distinctive voice and a great narrative. I love historical fiction and the sense of being immersed in a world from the past. I relish literary thrillers that can boast jeopardy, great writing and clever plotting. I’ll always be gripped by psychological suspense when horror or peril is introduced to a domestic setting. I love books that take me to the other side of the world and I’m definitely open to futuristic fiction and the re-imagining of our world as landscapes for great story-telling.
My list is primarily quality fiction, psychological suspense thrillers and books in the personal development and mindfulness area. Narrative memoir, especially Irish ones, are also on my wish list.
I look for a voice that will stand out and also story with emotion at its heart. From contemporary fiction with a dilemma throughout; to interesting historical settings and period; to inspirational how-to non-fiction; and page-turning suspense: these are my main areas of interest. Stories that will span any age range from eighteen to a hundred.
When you are writing your story and it makes you cry, that will be a good indicator it is a book for me.
Great storytelling is the connecting factor in my list and I am fortunate to work with a number of top selling commercial authors. I represent Jeffrey Archer and Gerald Seymour although the majority of my fiction clients seem to be women! They include Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly, Elizabeth Noble, Freya North, Deborah Moggach and Sue Townsend.
As I have a very full list I seldom take on new clients, although there are exceptions for something that really grabs me and I took on a debut novelist only last week.
I am always on the lookout for really smart new fiction, whether it be commercial or offbeat. I don’t believe in ‘commercial or literary’, I believe in jolly good writing. I am very fussy yet hungry when it comes to crime, and want something tightly written with razor-sharp observations and a great sense of atmosphere – think The Dry. I am an avid reader of historical fiction so I’m looking out for the next historical saga. I recently took on a wonderful sci-fi/zombie writer, and would love to expand this part of my list. At the moment, I am focusing on finding a fantastic ghost story – think The Woman In Black or The Silent Companions – and something, like One Day, to make me feel warm inside. As for non-fiction, I find anything in the world of medicine, real-life bravery, family, loss, love and fortitude utterly fascinating. Letters to Louis and Late Fragments are both good examples.
I look for great writing in literary fiction and general fiction, psychological suspense, crime and thrillers, historical fiction, as well as variations on all of the above. I like novels which engage with contemporary culture and ones which offer a new, unexpected take on familiar genres and ways of writing, all the better if they make me think and the storytelling keeps me on my toes. I’m always curious about debuts with a unique voice and perspective, and writers who are hard-working, ambitious and committed to the art and craft of writing. This goes for literary and popular fiction. I like gripping plots, fascinating, non-obvious narrators, well-developed characters and new ideas.
On my list of clients and in my reading pile for pleasure you will find authors whose prose is lean and muscular and those more playful with language and ideas. I love great social observation, stories about families and relationships, atmospheric or unusual settings, and haunting, dark or unsettling narrations. I enjoy elements of speculative fiction (think Margaret Atwood rather than straight genre) and the supernatural. My favourite David Mitchell novel is number9dream, my favourite Daphne du Maurier is My Cousin Rachel. Here are a few examples of contemporary novels I don’t represent but I really enjoyed reading: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, How to Be Both by Ali Smith, Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. You will find the list of clients I am proud to represent here.
I grew up reading books from around the world and I am always drawn to international literature.
I look after primarily children’s and young adult fiction so there are tigers and princesses, monsters and pirates, dinosaurs and fairies, superheroes and unlikely heroes all bursting from my bookshelves. I’m keen to encounter new creatures and creations and to explore all kinds of different worlds (including the real world!). I’m looking for new authors to team up with so if you are writing a children’s book, or a book for young adults then do send it my way. I’m on the look out for engaging stories that really pack a punch. At the moment I’m keen to find middle grade or YA fantasy stories, something with a great twist or anything with a gothic feel. I’m also open to other ideas, however, so if your book doesn’t fit these criteria it won’t stop me from considering it. I like surprises! I also write a blog about Writing for Children which offers more advice and tips on what to submit.
In fiction, I want to read work by writers who can create characters with whom the reader can identify and champion, who move me, and whom I trust when they take me somewhere I wasn’t expecting to go. In non-fiction, I want to represent biography that inspires, history that tells a story, memoir that entertains, or the kind of pop culture, humour and entertainment projects that people know that they’re looking for the minute they see them and that really deserve to be books.
I’m looking for confident writing voices, and authors who write intelligently but who understand that the labels of genre aren’t a bad thing. I think this can apply equally to commercial non-fiction and story-led literary fiction, and to really clever crime or thriller writing that is about people as well as about plots.
New Writing team
The New Writing Team consists of assistants who work alongside agents. The team meets once a week to discuss new submissions and while they may not represent authors themselves they pass promising material on to the most appropriate agent.