Managing Director & literary agent
What I'm Looking For
Historical fiction for the book club market; marginalised voices in history; the next huge contemporary and / or historical crime series; contemporary and historical thrillers; familiar time periods from a new angle; old stories retold in new ways; gritty, real, transportive, warts-and-all historical fiction; characters caught in the build-up or aftermath of historical events; biographical / narrative non-fiction more incredible than any fiction.
What I'm Looking For
I have two areas that I am currently building a list in: historical fiction, and crime & thrillers.
Historical fiction is a broad brush, so trying to limit what I’m looking for is tricky. The easiest answer would be: anything really good! But what does that actually mean? In its shortest form, a strong voice, a razor-sharp hook, authentic world building and vivid characters that pop up in conversations for years after in book club discussions and conversations round the dinner table.
I would be eager to hear from anyone who is writing a story from the past with a fresh viewpoint, like the amazing Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins, the unbeatable Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead or the mesmeric A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago. Anything that acknowledges and celebrates the rich, colourful tapestry of life that has been all-too-often overlooked in historical fiction, written by someone from a marginalised or under-represented group.
I’m also looking for the next huge historical crime series. I’d consider any time period, but the character and setting needs to be as fresh as Abir Mukherjee’s Wyndham and Banerjee series, the world-building as impressive as Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night, and the pace as thrilling as Andrew Taylor’s Marwood series.
The story-most-told often becomes the least interesting, so if you have a completely fresh take on an old tale I would love to see your work. Think Circe by Madeline Miller, or The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I also love stories that delight in bending genre and form in equal, beguiling manner, such as The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Once Upon a River by Dianne Setterfield or The Second Sleep by Robert Harris.
I adore books that explore the seedy underbelly of life, whether that be Victorian London in The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal, or 18th Century Paris in Pure by Andrew Miller (the book I credit with getting me into historical fiction). I find the gritty reality of these novels irresistible. There’s a brilliant authenticity to them, as there is in books such as the wonderful To Calais, In Ordinary Times by James Meek. I would always welcome something that uses language to such brilliant effect, while at the same time telling a thoroughly modern story set 700 years ago.
When it comes to contemporary crime & thrillers, I am looking for killer twists, unforgettable characters and a plot that entertains and enthrals, with my tastes skewing towards the more upmarket. I love the atmosphere of Jane Harper’s The Dry, the characterisation and twists of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, and the intensity of We Begin at the End by Chris Whittaker and Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan.
Some of my favourite works of historical fiction and non-fiction
A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
To Calais, In Ordinary Times by James Meek
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
The Second Sleep by Robert Harris
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee
The Ratline by Philippe Sands
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Dry by Jane Harper
We Begin at the End by Chris Whittaker
Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan