Anna DavisAnna is the founder and Director of the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. She is the author of five acclaimed novels which have been published in twenty languages. She has been a journalist and Guardian columnist, as well as a Curtis Brown literary agent. She taught creative writing at the University of Manchester and in many other settings before founding Curtis Brown Creative in 2011.
Jake ArnottJake is the author of seven highly acclaimed novels. The Long Firm was the bestselling debut novel of 1999, and was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil's Paintbrush and, in 2013, The House of Rumour. In 2006, The Long Firm was made into a four-part, BAFTA-nominated series for BBC 2 starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Strong. In 2008, He Kills Coppers was made into a three-part series for ITV1, starring Rafe Spall and Kelly Reilly. His latest novel The Fatal Tree was published in February 2017.
Catherine JohnsonCatherine Johnson has written over 20 books for children and young adults, including Sawbones, which won the Young Quills Prize for best Historical Fiction in the 12+ category and was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 2015. Her book Freedom won the 2019 Little Rebels Award for Radical Children's Fiction. ‘Catherine wants us to be the best writers we can be and her passion was clear throughout’ Ian Brooks, Writing YA & Children's Fiction student
Suzannah DunnSuzannah Dunn is the author of thirteen books. She was picked alongside Robert Harris, Edward St Aubyn and Helen Simpson, in response to Granta’s first ‘Best Under 40’ list in 1993. She wrote six critically acclaimed contemporary novels and a short story collection before her first historical novel, The Queen of Subtleties, was published in 2004. It has been followed by five more Tudor novels including The Confession of Katherine Howard and The Lady of Misrule. She has sold over a quarter of a million copies of her historical novels in the UK alone. Her latest historical novel The Testimony of Alys Twist is set to be published September 2020 by Little, Brown. Suzannah was Director of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University for six years and has taught many courses for the Arvon Foundation. She is a popular speaker at literary festivals and events including the Bristol Festival of Ideas and has given talks at several beautiful Tudor National Trust buildings including Newark Park in Gloucestershire and Ightham Mote in Kent.
Charlotte MendelsonCharlotte has written four novels: Love in Idleness, Daughters of Jerusalem, When We Were Bad, and Almost English, all published by Picador. She has 20 years' experience as a fiction editor and publisher, and is a Visiting Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, on the Creative Writing MA course. Her first work of non-fiction, Rhapsody in Green, was published by Kyle Books in September 2016.
Simon WroeSimon Wroe's first novel Chop Chop was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, longlisted for Desmond Elliott Prize and the winner of a Betty Trask Award. His second novel, Here Comes Trouble, was published in April 2017 and was shortlisted for the Everyman Bollinger Wodehouse prize. He writes books and arts reviews for The Economist and features for The Guardian.
Laura BarnettLaura's first novel, The Versions of Us (2015) was a number-one bestseller, it has been translated into 24 languages, and was shortlisted for Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards. Her second novel, Greatest Hits was published in 2017, with an accompanying soundtrack album by the musician Kathryn Williams. She has taught creative writing for Guardian Masterclasses, delivered a TedX talk on originality in fiction, and worked as a writing mentor for the charity Arts Emergency. She is also a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University's Writing School.
Colin TeevanColin Teevan is a celebrated playwright, translator, and writer for screen. He is writer, creator, and executive producer of Rebellion (RTE, Netflix) seasons 1 and 2 and lead writer, showrunner, and executive producer on Das Boot (Bavaria Fiction/Sky TV) seasons 2 and 3. He is also the writer and creator of Charlie (RTE), three original films starring Aidan Gillen, who won an IFTA for Best Performance. His other work for television includes Silk (BBC) starring Maxine Peake, Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Single Handed (ITV). Colin currently has several new original drama serials in development with, amongst others, Warp, Freemantle, UFA (Germany), and Bavaria Fiction. Colin's theatre pieces have been produced by many leading British theatres including the National, the Young Vic, the Soho Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland. He is Emeritus Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck, University of London where he has lectured for over twelve years. He has also been a visiting lecturer in stage and screenwriting at UEA, Durham, Newcastle, and Queen's Belfast.
Jacob Ross is a novelist, short story writer, editor and anthologist. Ross tutors Narrative Craft internationally. His crime novel, The Bone Readers, won the inaugural Jhalak Prize in 2017. His literary novel Pynter Bender was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Regional Prize and selected as one of the British Authors Club’s top three Best First Novels. Ross's collected short fiction, Tell No-One About This, was listed by the 2017 Bocas Literary Prize among the best Caribbean fictional works.
His most recent crime novel, Black Rain Falling, was published in spring 2020.
Jacob Ross is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Associate Fiction Editor at Peepal Tree Press.
Our other tutors
Leila Aboulela is the author of five novels: Bird Summons, Minaret, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, The Kindness of Enemies and Lyrics Alley, Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. She was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award. Leila’s work has been translated into fifteen languages and she was long-listed three times for the Orange Prize. She grew up in Khartoum and moved in her mid-twenties to Aberdeen.
Clare Alan is a script editor and producer who has worked on a range of TV and film projects in the UK and Ireland. Her script editing credits include Solomon & Gaenor by Paul Morrison and controversial C4 factual drama The Investigator by Barbara Machin for September films, Dangerfield and Silent Witness for the BBC, and four series of The Vice for ITV. Clare moved to Touchpaper TV as head of development in 2001 and began producing on shows by Julian Fellowes, Barry Simner, Edna O’Brien and Colin Teevan. In 2017 she set up Pamela Productions where she worked on ReefTV’s biopic of Mahler for BBC Music & Arts, Draco by Clive Bradley and A New Dawn by Bronagh Taggart for BBC Northern Ireland. She has also worked as executive producer on C4’s new writing and directing scheme Coming Up.
Sara studied law at the London School of Economics before qualifying as a barrister in 1994. She worked as a lawyer for seventeen years before obtaining a Master’s degree in creative writing with distinction from Cambridge University in 2016, where she was the recipient of the Michael Holroyd prize.
Prior to publication, The Confessions of Frannie Langton was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish prize, and it was published earlier this year by Penguin in the UK and Harper Collins in the US to critical acclaim. It has been sold for translation into more than fourteen languages, as well as being optioned for television, and making an appearance in numerous ‘best of’ lists by Oprah magazine, The Guardian, The Observer, Amazon, Apple and Essence, to name a few.
Oprah magazine named her one of the women of summer 2019, and The Sunday Times called her “a star in the making”.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton is the winner of the 2019 Costa First Novel Award.
Yvvette Edwards is a British East Londoner of Montserratian origin and author of two novels, A Cupboard Full of Coats and The Mother. She has written a number of short stories which have been broadcast on radio and published in anthologies, including New Daughters of Africa. She was a judge for the inaugural Jhalak Prize for Writers of Colour and the George Floyd Short Story Competition. Her work has been nominated for a number of literary awards including the Man Booker Prize.
She has wide experience of mentoring emerging writers, including on the National Centre for Writing’s Escalator programme and the Common People project, and she is particularly passionate about writing which challenges the single narrative and gives voice to those who are absent, misrepresented and/or underrepresented in fiction.
Susan Fletcher was born in 1979 in Birmingham. She graduated from the UEA Creative Writing Course and lived in Scotland for many years, though she is now based in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Her first novel Eve Green won the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award, the Betty Trask Prize, the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and the Richard and Judy Summer Read in 2005. Her second novel, Oystercatchers (Fourth Estate 2007) was published to great critical acclaim. She has also written a YA novel, A Little in Love (Chicken House, 2014). Her latest book, Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew, will be published by Virago in 2016.
Claire Fuller didn’t start writing until she was 40. She’s the author of three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days (winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize), Swimming Lessons (shortlisted for the Encore Award), and most recently, the critically acclaimed, Bitter Orange. She also writes short stories and flash fiction, and has won the Royal Academy / Pin Drop short story prize amongst others.
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan.
Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by the Independent as ‘Full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,’ and by The Times as ‘A funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic’. Since then he has written sixteen novels including Turning Thirty and The Man I Think I Know. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. Half A World Away, his latest paperback has just been optioned for TV.
Andrew Michael Hurley
Andrew Michael Hurley is currently based in Lancashire. His first novel, The Loney, was originally published by Tartarus Press as a 300-copy limited-edition, before being republished by John Murray. It went on to sell in twenty languages, win the Costa Best First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards. Devil’s Day, his second novel, was picked as a Book of the Year in five newspapers and won the Encore Award. Starve Acre is published by John Murray in 2019.
Simon Ings is an author and critic based in London. His eight critically acclaimed novels include The Weight of Numbers and Dead Water – and the science fiction novels Hot Head and The Smoke; while his non-fiction includes Stalin and the Scientists and The Eye: A Natural History. As editor of New Scientist magazine’s Arc project, he published Margaret Atwood, Kim Stanley Robinson and others. He writes an SF column for the Times, and was on the judging panel for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Simon has run workshops and classes for literary festivals and for the Arvon Foundation, and has been a tutor and editor on many of Curtis Brown Creative’s courses.
Liz Jensen’s critically acclaimed work spans black comedy, science fiction, satire, domestic drama, historical fantasy, horror and psychological suspense. Her eight novels have been been developed for film and TV, adapted for radio, selected for Channel 4’s TV Book Club and translated into more than 20 languages. The Uninvited, her latest, was published in 2012. Three of her novels have been nominated for the Orange Prize and in 1998 she was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Award. She has taught creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and as Writer in Residence at Kingston University. She is a member of the Royal Society for Literature. An adaptation of her novel The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is soon to be released as a film.
‘Liz is really generous with the detail and depth of her comments, is incisive about what isn’t working, and creative in finding new approaches to problems with plot and characterisation. She has genuinely helped me to take a new approach to my writing, and as a result the mentoring course has felt like a writing lifeline.’ Sean Lusk, Mentoring Programme 2019-20
Daisy Johnson is the author of Everything Under and Fen. In 2018 she was the youngest ever author to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She is the winner of the Edgehill Prize. Her new novel Sisters is out in 2020.
Cynan Jones is the author of five novels, published in over 20 countries. He has won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize, a Betty Trask Award, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award, and the BBC National Short Story Award, for which he was also on the 2019 judging panel. His short stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and in journals and magazines including Granta and The New Yorker. He has also written a screenplay for the hit crime drama Hinterland, a collection of tales for children, and stories for BBC Radio. His latest work, Stillicide, is a collection of twelve short stories commissioned by Radio 4 and published by Granta. Cynan is the RLF Writing Fellow at Aberystwyth University, and a recently elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has worked extensively with schools and writing groups, and tutored on short fiction for the Arvon Foundation and Literature Wales.
Erin Kelly is the author of He Said/She Said, which spent a total of twelve weeks in the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller lists. Her first novel The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and a Richard & Judy bestseller. Erin has written four more original psychological thrillers, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, and We Know You Know, all of which were published to critical acclaim, and in 2014, she wrote the official novel and short story series of the hit TV series Broadchurch. Her books have been translated into 25 languages.
As well as writing fiction, Erin has worked as a journalist since 1998 and teaches creative writing. She lives in north London with her husband and daughters.
Jennifer is Senior Manager for Courses and Operations at Curtis Brown Creative. She was previously an editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, the literary imprint of the Orion Publishing Group. In her time there, she worked with authors including Costa-shortlisted Elisa Lodato, Stella Prize-winning Heather Rose, Leila Aboulela, Francesca Jakobi, Chloë Mayer, Shannon Leone Fowler and Haleh Agar. She is passionate about nurturing new voices and excited to be part of CBC’s creative and dynamic team.
Nikita Lalwani’s first novel Gifted was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and was the winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction. Her second novel was The Village (2012) and her third is You People (2020). Nikita was a judge for the RSL Encore prize and the Rathbones Folio prize 19/20. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Photograph: Vik Sharma.
‘Nikita is warm, challenging, accurate and constructive, a terrific tutor’: Derek Routledge, Online Three-Month Novel-Writing Course, Spring 2015
Sarah McIntyre works as an illustrator and writer from her studio in south London.
Her solo picture books include There’s a Shark in the Bath, Dinosaur Firefighters and The New Neighbours, and she’s worked with writers such as Giles Andreae (Morris the Mankiest Monster), Gillian Rogerson (You can’t Scare a Princess!) and Alan MacDonald (The Prince of Pants). She also creates longer illustrated chapter books with her co-author Philip Reeve, such as Pugs of the Frozen North and Oliver and the Seawigs.
She first got into publishing through comics, where she met her Jampires co-author David O’Connell. She learned a lot from watching David produce and sell his own stories and pictures at comic fairs, and they entertained themselves drawing improvised stories. These ‘comic jams’ eventually led to a Jampires comic, which they later took to a publisher and turned into a picture book.
She’s blogged as BookTrust Writer-Illustrator in Residence, delivered a TEDx talk on learning how to grow from our mistakes, spoken internationally at book festivals, and led a campaign called Pictures Mean Business, encouraging the book industry to credit illustrators properly for their work.
David O’Connell is a writer and illustrator living in London, UK. He works mostly in children’s books, particularly humorous picture books and young fiction. His first book was Monster & Chips, the first of a series of funny (and revolting) adventures of ‘hooman’ Joe Shoe whilst working at the Monster Diner of friendly monster Fuzzby Bixington. He then collaborated with the brilliant Sarah McIntyre on the picture book Jampires, inspired by a comic they improvised together – a comic ‘jam’! After completing illustrating the Creature Teacher series by writer Sam Watkins, he worked with illustrator Francesca Gambatesa on a series of picture books all about families, as well as illustrating Boyband of the Apocalypse books for funny writer Tom Nicoll. His latest series is the Dundoodle Mysteries, tales of spooky adventure in the strange little town of Dundoodle, illustrated by Claire Powell.
Having returned to her native Scotland after working as a screenwriter in LA, Lisa O’Donnell sat down to write her first novel The Death of Bees, which was published by Windmill in 2012. The book, a razor-sharp black comedy about family values that follows the orphaned children of two Glasgow drug addicts as they rebuild their lives with the help of a caring neighbour, won the Commonwealth Book Prize in 2013. Her second novel, Closed Doors, is another tale of lost innocence set during the 1980s on the author’s childhood home island of Rothesay. She is currently working on her third novel.
‘I owe Lisa such a debt of gratitude! She was so fearless and constructive with her feedback, and wasn’t afraid to tell me where I was going both right and wrong. ‘ Jane Harper, author of The Dry, Online Three-Month Novel-Writing Course, 2014
Jeremy Page is the author of three novels: Salt was shortlisted for the Jelf First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. His second novel, The Wake, was published by Penguin in 2009, and The Collector of Lost Things in 2013 (Little, Brown). He is also a scriptwriter, with a film made for Channel 4’s upcoming talent scheme, SCAPEGOAT, a feature adaptation of his first novel funded by the UK Film Council, and has developed and written an original series, Dark River, for Working Title TV.
He grew up in North Norfolk and has also worked as an editor for FilmFour and the BBC. He lives in London with his wife and three children, and teaches at The London Film School.
Stephanie Merritt/S J Parris
Stephanie Merritt is an author and journalist. Writing as S J Parris, she is the bestselling author of the Giordano Bruno series, which follows the renegade monk, philosopher and heretic Giordano Bruno in Elizabethan England. The sixth novel in the series Execution was published by HarperCollins in 2020. Stephanie regularly writes for the Observer and the Guardian.
Tony Parsons is the author of Man and Boy, winner of the Book of the Year Prize. His subsequent novels One For My Baby, Man and Wife, The Family Way, Stories We Could Tell and My Favourite Wife were all bestsellers. In 2010 Tony published Men from the Boys – the third part to the trilogy that began with Man and Boy. More recently published are another bestseller, The Murder Bag, and, in 2015, The Slaughter Man.
Tony Parsons working life began in a Gordon’s Gin Distillery. Unfortunately for Tony he developed an acute allergy to the spirit. From these dark days his first novel, The Kids, was born and so began a literary and television career that thankfully did not affect his health!
He began as a writer with the New Musical Express in 1976 where he stayed for the next three years covering music such as The Clash, Blondie and The Sex Pistols. He went on to write for the Daily Mirror for many years, having been poached from the Daily Telegraph when Piers Morgan took over as editor. These days he write a column for the Sun on Sunday.
Norah is very proud to represent Curtis Brown’s historic clients, from modern classics to classic British crime, and from poetry and criticism to true-life adventure. She’s also building a list of living writers, and her taste spans international literary, historical and crime fiction, and non-fiction that has something smart and unusual to say about the world, particularly about food, landscapes and technology.
Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love which was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize. She followed it with A Manual for Heartache and Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books and runs creative writing workshops. In previous lives, Cathy worked for Waterstones for ten years, ran the literacy charity Quick Reads, and was Books Editor at The Bookseller.
Peter Salmon is an Australian writer living in the UK. His first novel, The Coffee Story (Sceptre, 2011), was a New Statesman Book of the Year. He has written frequently for Australian TV and radio, and for broadsheets including The Guardian and the Sydney Review of Books. The Blue News, his satirical column about books and publishing, was subsequently collected and published by Melbourne University Press as Uncorrected Proof (2005). He has received awards from the Arts Council of England and the Arts Council of Victoria, Australia, and has taught creative writing at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and Liverpool John Moore’s University.
Matt Thorne is the author of six novels, including Eight Minutes Idle, which won an Encore Award and was made into a film, and Cherry, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His writing has been published all over the world and described as ‘glorious to read’ by The Daily Telegraph and ‘amusing, poignant, frequently sexy and remarkably sussed’ by The Observer, among many other glowing reviews. He has also written three children’s novels and a critical study of the pop star Prince, published by Faber. He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University.
Stephanie is the Children’s and YA agent at Curtis Brown where she has worked for 12 years. She works closely with her authors, often providing detailed feedback on their manuscripts, sometimes over several drafts, before submitting their work to publishers. She believes one of the most thrilling parts of working as an agent is discovering talent and nurturing new writers. She also enjoys talking to her more established authors about their work and figuring out solutions to sticky situations both within and outside of the story! She regularly speaks to writing groups and creative-writing courses about agenting and children’s publishing, and she chairs the Children’s Agents Group.
Cathi Unsworth is the author of four crime novels, most recently That Old Black Magic; plus two further (non-genre) novels, all published by Serpent’s Tail. Her novel Weirdo was translated into seven languages and longlisted for the 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, the 2014 Gran Prix de Littérature Policiére, the 2013 Gordon Burn Prize and the 2013 New Angle Prize for Literature. Her novel Without the Moon was The Times‘ Crime Book of the month upon publication.
She has published numerous short stories and edited the award-winning short story collection London Noir. Cathi is a journalist and editor, and has taught for the Arvon Foundation in addition to her work with CBC.
Rebecca Wait is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The View on the Way Down and The Followers, and a third, Our Fathers, which will be published in January. She has written for the Independent, the New Statesman and the Pool on subjects as diverse as cults, suicide and autism, and has appeared on Woman’s Hour. Alongside writing, she teaches in a London secondary school.
Christopher’s six acclaimed novels include What I Did, The Devil’s Mask, and On Cape Three Points. Born in 1970, he read English at Oxford, then worked as a farm hand, teacher and lawyer, before turning to writing full-time in 2001. As well as writing fiction, Christopher is a travel writer for The Independent. He is also the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Bristol University and has tutored numerous creative-writing courses for Curtis Brown Creative and The Arvon Foundation.
‘Chris has been the best tutor I have encountered. I owe him a great deal.’ Quentin Smith, Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course, Spring 2014
‘Chris taught us to be constructive, thorough and generous with our comments, as he himself was with each of us individually.’ Fynvola Le Hunte Ward, Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course, Spring 2014
‘Chris was so approachable that I felt I could have asked him anything, at any time.’ John McCann, Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course, Spring 2014
Before embarking on a writing career, Louise Wener was the lead singer in Britpop band Sleeper and became an instantly recognisable poster girl for the Cool Britannia movement of the mid-1990s. Though the band recorded a platinum-selling album, The It Girl, they split in 1998 – which is when Louise bought herself a second-hand typewriter. She has since published five novels, including Goodnight Steve McQueen and Worldwide Adventures in Love. Her memoir, Just for One Day recounts her awkward 1980s childhood and subsequent rise to the dizzying heights of fame playing to hundreds of thousands of fans and living the high life of glitter, cocaine, paranoia, comically petty squabbles and warped music industry logic. Louise now lives in Brighton with her husband and children.
‘Louise was so encouraging and generous with her free time, I felt lucky to have been selected for the course’ Roohi-Saba Rais, Six-Month Novel-Writing Course, Spring 2015
Tracy ChevalierTracy's second novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was an international bestseller and won the Barnes & Noble Discover award. It was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Scarlett Johansson and a West End stage production. She is the author of seven novels. Her subsequent novels have all met with critical acclaim and commercial success, her latest, The Last Runaway was published by Harper Collins in 2013.
Jonny GellerJonny is joint CEO of Curtis Brown and Managing Director of the books division. He works with a fantastic range of writers spanning from authors of first-class literary fiction to bestselling thriller writers, from ground-breaking journalists to public figures and business people, from comedians and actors to the very best writers in the field of women's commercial fiction.
Clare ConvilleListed by The Observer as one of the top 50 players in the world of books, Clare previously worked as an editor at Random House, before co-founding our sister agency Conville & Walsh in 2000. She specialises in literary and commercial fiction, general non-fiction, and children's writers. Between them, Clare's clients have won or been nominated for nearly every major literary prize.
David MitchellDavid Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of Slade House, The Bone Clocks, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell co-translated from the Japanese the international bestselling memoir, The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.
Elif ShafakElif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 14 books, nine of which are novels, including The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for her novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World. Her books have been translated into more than forty languages. Shafak is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations).
Our other visiting speakers
Haleh Agar was born and raised with her two sisters in Canada. She left to teach English Literature at international schools in Bahrain, Singapore and most recently London, where she now lives. Haleh has been published in literary magazines and journals, including Mslexia, Viva Magazine, Fincham Press and Lamplight Magazine. She won the Brighton Prize for a piece of flash fiction, and her narrative essay ‘On Writing Ethnic Stories’ won the London Magazine‘s inaugural essay competition. Out of Touch is her first novel.
Ore Agbaje-Williams is a fiction and non-fiction editor at The Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. She began her publishing career at Bloomsbury Publishing, before moving into the digital team at HarperCollins and then into Editorial, where she’s been for the past three years. Her upcoming projects include Is This Too Much?, a Lisa Taddeo meets Nora Ephron memoir about sex, dating and divorce by Laura Friedman Williams, The Unfortunates, a darkly funny campus novel about a black queer college student trying to keep her life together by J K Chukwu, and Wild Fires by Sophie Jai, winner of the BAME Open Submission she ran in 2019.
Ailah Ahmed is publishing director at Little, Brown Book Group. She works across two imprints: Virago and Little, Brown/Abacus. Her authors include Chigozie Obioma (shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019 with An Orchestra of Minorities), C Pam Zhang (longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 with How Much of These Hills is Gold) and Andrew Sean Greer (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018 with Less). Ailah has worked at independent publishers Tindal Street Press, Canongate Books and Telegram Books, as well large houses such as Simon and Schuster and Hachette.
Shahnaz Ahsan is an award winning writer of short stories and is currently working on her debut novel due for publication in 2019.
She has also written a screenplay, Laila, a feature length film set in her hometown of Keighley. Her articles on issues of multiculturalism, race, religion and society have appeared in national daily newspapers and online magazines.
She was the recipient of a Thouron Award (2014) and a Fulbright Award (2008).
Born and raised in West Yorkshire, she has lived in Oxford, Philadelphia, and currently resides in London, but her flattened northern vowels remain victorious.
Sue joined our sister agency C&W in 2005 and was nominated for Agent of the Year in 2018. Representing an impressive array of novelists, Sue’s authors include 3 million copy NY and ST besteller ML Stedman (THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS), award-winning and ST bestseller Joanna Cannon (THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE), ST and international bestseller Daniel Cole (RAGDOLL), Costa Short Story Award winner Jess Kidd (HIMSELF and THE HOARDER) and multi-award winner Ali Shaw (THE GIRL WITH GLASS FEET). When it comes to her list, Sue is particularly interested in accessible literary fiction, book group/upmarket commercial women’s fiction, family dramas, historical, crime, psychological thrillers and suspense. She is also keen to see high-quality magical realism and speculative fiction. She enjoy novels that blend genres, are unusual in setting or circumstance, have unexpected twists, a little darkness, pull at the heart-strings, and contain some sort of moral dilemma. Ultimately she’s looking for great storytelling, vivid characters, strong prose and a true originality of vision. Though open to submissions from anyone anywhere, Sue is particularly keen to hear from British, ANZ and Irish writers, and those from diverse backgrounds.
Jake is the author of six highly acclaimed novels. The Long Firm was the bestselling debut novel of 1999, and was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil’s Paintbrush and, in 2013, The House of Rumour. In 2006, The Long Firm was made into a four-part, BAFTA-nominated series for BBC 2 starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Strong. In 2008, He Kills Coppers was made into a three-part series for ITV1, starring Rafe Spall and Kelly Reilly. Jake has previously taught creative-writing courses for the Arvon Foundation.
Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and community educator based in Edinburgh. Her debut novel, All The Hidden Truths, was the winner of the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Peggy Chapman-Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. In 2016 Claire was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, and she works as the Scotland tutor for women’s writing initiatives Write Like A Grrrl! and #GrrrlCon.
Profile picture (c) Sally Jubb Photography
Lisa joined Curtis Brown in 2011 as Jonny Geller’s assistant, she now works as an editorial consultant to the book department at Curtis Brown. She is currently building her own children’s book list, with a special focus on middle grade and YA writers. She is looking for a strong narrative with great writing.
Hazel is a graduate of both the Oxford University MSt in Creative Writing and the Curtis Brown Creative Novel-Writing Course. She lives in London with her partner, and works as a cultural consultant. Her debut novel Heatstroke will be published by Headline in 2020.
Emily Barr worked as a journalist in London but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. She went travelling for a year, writing a column about it as she went and it was there that she had an idea for a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia.
This became BACKPACK, an adult thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and she has since written eleven more adult novels published in the UK and around the world. She lives in Cornwall with her partner and their children. Her first novel for young adults, THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS was the bestselling YA debut of 2017. THE TRUTH AND LIES OF ELLA BLACK, her second young adult thriller, published in January 2018.
Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for Melissa Pimentel, an American writer and publishing professional. Her debut novel, Freefall, will be published in the UK by Harvill Secker and in the US by HarperCollins in 2019.by When not working or writing, she spends her free time running around various muddy parks and reading books in Stoke Newington pubs. She lives in London with her husband and their two excessively fluffy cats, Roger Livesey and BoJack Horseman.
Emma Beswetherick is editorial director for Piatkus fiction. Rosamund Lupton, bestselling author of Sister (Little Brown, 2010), is one of her discoveries.
Francis Bickmore is publishing director at Canongate Books. He joined the independent, Edinburgh-based publisher in 2000 and has worked with authors including Carol Birch, Nick Cave, Matt Haig, James Meek, Yann Martel and David Byrne.
Malorie Blackman is the current Children’s Laureate. Her first book, Not So Stupid, was a collection of horror and science fiction stories for young adults, published in November 1990. Since then she has written more than fifty children’s books, including novels and short story collections, and also television scripts and a stage play. Blackman’s television scripts include episodes of the long-running children’s drama Byker Grove, as well as television adaptations of her novels Whizziwig and Pig-Heart Boy. Her books have been translated into over fifteen languages including Spanish, Welsh, German, Japanese, Chinese and French.
Blackman’s award-winning Noughts & Crosses series, exploring love, racism and violence, is set in a fictional dystopia.
Among many other prizes and nominations, Blackman was awarded The Kitschies 2013 Black Tentacle for ‘outstanding achievement in encouraging and elevating the conversation around genre literature’.
Felicity trained as a barrister, but her literary interests lead her to a career away from the law. She interned at both the Wylie Agency and Curtis Brown before officially joining Curtis Brown in 2005. She worked with Camilla Hornby and Elizabeth Sheinkman before building her own list working alongside Vivienne Schuster.
Felicity’s literary tastes cover historical, commercial women’s thrillers and crime fiction – her authors include Booker longlisted Tom Rob Smith, Rosamund Lupton, Gabrielle Donnelly, Jessica Cornwell and the estate of Daphne du Maurier – and non-fiction, in particular cookery authors Anna Jones, Mark Sargeant and Tessa Kiros. Felicity is on the board of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Harriet Bourton is the Publisher of Orion Fiction, a commercial list that is home to international bestselling brands Ian Rankin, Erica James, Michael Connelly, Linwood Barclay and Cathy Kelly. She joined Orion in August 2016 and previously worked at Transworld where she looked after their women’s fiction list, including bestsellers such as Jilly Cooper, Sophie Kinsella and Danielle Steel, and before that worked at Hodder & Stoughton and Headline.
Born in Ghana, William Boyd was educated at Gordonstoun School and attended the universities of Nice (Diploma of French Studies), Glasgow (M.A.Hons in English and Philosophy) and Jesus College, Oxford, where he studied for a D.Phil in English Literature. His novels and short stories have been translated into more than 30 languages and have garnered many awards, including the Whitbread, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Jonathan Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Prix Jean Monnet and the Costa Novel of the Year. Many of his books, including Any Human Heart, have been adapted into award-winning films.
William Boyd is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has been presented with honorary Doctorates in Literature from the Universities of St Andrews, Stirling, Glasgow and Dundee and was awarded the CBE in 2005. He is married and divides his time between London and the south west of France.
Venetia is Publishing Director at Viking Penguin, and has been in the post for 10 years. Formerly she founded the Harper Perennial list at HarperCollins and has a marketing background. Her authors include Curtis Brown clients Elif Shafak and Emma Healey.
Louise Candlish is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Sudden Departure of the Frasers (2015) and The Swimming Pool (2016). Her new novel, the compulsive thriller Our House, was published in 2018.
Catherine joined Curtis Brown in Spring 2015 to work with Jonny Geller. She is currently building her own list of fiction and non-fiction. She is on the lookout for debut novelists.
Nicci Cloke is a full-time writer, part-time doer of odd jobs. These jobs have included Christmas Elf, cocktail waitress, and childminder. She now works for the Faber Academy. She is also the organiser and host of London literary salon Speakeasy. Her first novel, Someday Find Me, was published by Fourth Estate in 2012 and her second, Lay Me Down, was published by Cape in 2015. Her first novel for young adults, Follow Me Back, was published by Hot Key Books in 2016, and her second, Close Your Eyes, will follow in 2017. She lives and writes in London.
Charlotte is a Publishing Director at Windmill Books. Cray began her career in publishing when she joined HarperCollins in 2012 as an editorial assistant, after training as a barrister, and she was part of the team that launched the Borough Press imprint in 2014 where she became an Editorial Director before moving to Cornerstone.
Sheila is a native of Dublin who started her publishing career at Poolbeg Press, before moving to London in 1991, working at a number of leading publishers, including HarperCollins and Hodder before joining Curtis Brown.
During the 90s and early 2000s she held a number of high-profile sales and marketing positions, and worked closely with many authors and agents. This inspired her to change to the other side and in 2003 she became a literary agent.
Sheila is very proud to represent a wide range of authors and specialises in women’s commercial fiction, crime and thrillers, memoir, business, sport and MBS.
Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist who has interviewed celebrities from Michael Jackson to George Clooney. Now freelance, Fiona writes for national newspapers and magazines as well as corporate companies. She lives in Essex with her family. Her debut, Rattle came out in 2017, her second novel, The Collector, will be published in 2018.
Dan Dalton is a writer and journalist based in North London. He is a former staff writer at BuzzFeed, where he covered books and pop culture. He was born in West Yorkshire, and graduated from the University of Leeds in 2005. His debut novel, Johnny Ruin was published by Unbound in March 2018.
Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University. Keen to improve her writing, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, achieving a Distinction with an earlier version of The Girl With the Louding Voice. It went on to win the Bath Novel Award for emerging authors and to be a finalist in the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition in 2018 before being published in 2020. An instant New York Times bestseller, it was subsequently shortlisted for the 2020 Desmond Elliott Prize and the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. Abi Daré lives in Essex with her husband and two children. Photography by @gazmadustudios