22 March 2019

Sheila Crowley: ‘Write from the heart as well as the head’

Sheila Crowley CB120
by Curtis Brown 120 Curtis Brown 120, From the Agents

Welcome to the next in our series of Curtis Brown 120 blog posts, these blogs include exclusive interviews with authors, agents and publishers; writing tips; industry insights – and much more besides.

This week we’re talking to Curtis Brown literary agent Sheila Crowley, she represents a brilliant list of clients, including the likes of Jojo MoyesClare Mackintosh and Santa Montefiore. Before becoming a literary agent Shelia worked in publishing houses such as HarperCollins and Hodder. Read on to find out what Sheila’s reading, her favourite debut novels, and her top tips to authors as well as advice to her younger self  …

What was the first book you sold?
Rachel Hore’s debut, The Dream House.

What’s your favourite debut novel?
Impossible to choose just one. I love Daddy’s Girls by Tasmina Perry and Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes (I was actually part of the acquisition team at Hodder that bought it, before becoming Jojo’s agent).

If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? 
Always be kind and always be true to yourself. (Sorry, that’s two!)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Write from the heart as well as the head.  Don’t try to copy other writers. Ask ‘does the story move me while I write?’

Which book do you always recommend to others? 
It would depend on who I am advising, and there are always so many to recommend! If it’s family or friend, it will be my latest favourite.  If it’s a new writer, I suggest they look at what’s hot in the new Richard and Judy Bookclub or what Waterstones is recommending.

What is your pet hate in submissions?
When writers claim to be the next [insert author’s name here].

Who is your favourite fictional hero/heroine? 
It would have to be Ambulance Sam from Jojo Moyes’ After You and Still Me.

What was the last book you read?
Late in the Day by the wonderful Tessa Hadley. I love her short stories too.

What book is totally overrated in your view? 
Too many but I won’t name and shame.

What’s your guilty reading pleasure?
I love wonderful American writers like Ann Patchett, Anna Quindlen, Nora Ephron and Katherine Heiny.

What do you think will be the next trend in publishing?
Short stories as they mirror the shortness of podcasts, which are so in vogue.

What are you actively looking for at the moment? 
The wonderful Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy are no longer with us and I want to find a new generation of writers like them.

Find out more about Curtis Brown 120 here.

If you’re writing a novel, check out the creative-writing courses – online or in London – currently open for applications or enrolment at Curtis Brown Creative.

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