My list spans the commercial spectrum: from contemporary women’s fiction – be that humorous, romantic, moving or high concept – to reading group, historical fiction and saga, through to police procedural, crime, thriller and psychological suspense.
In addition to accomplished, confident storytelling, I’m looking for compelling characters I can invest in: either protagonists I can root for or an unreliable narrator who can lead me on an unexpected journey. I would love to find a book club novel with a strong concept, a unique character or a knotty moral dilemma at its core, one which you can’t help but pass on and discuss with your friends. Holly Miller did this brilliantly in her novel The Sight of You, which went on to be selected by the Richard & Judy Book Club. And of course I’m always on the hunt for the Holy Grail of women’s fiction: a love story that completely sucks you in and keeps you up long past your bedtime. I’ll never forget the first time I read Iona Grey’s debut novel for that very reason, and I was so thrilled when it went on to win Novel of the Year at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards. Above all, I am looking for fiction that can make me feel something: if you can make me laugh like Sarra Manning or Sophia Money-Coutts, keep me on the edge of my seat like Alex Lake or Kate Riordan, or make me cry like Jenny Ashcroft, then I just might be the agent for you.
I love working with authors throughout the writing process, right from when the story is just the kernel of an idea, to delving into the full manuscript and drawing out what will make the reader tick. I took on many of the authors on my list when they were debuts (and some even before that, when they were journalists looking to make the leap into novel-writing), and as an agent you can’t beat the buzz of finding the perfect home for a book you’re excited about and getting to tell the author the good news. It has been such a privilege to watch these authors hone their craft with each book and build their readership accordingly. At the other end of the spectrum, I also take a particular thrill in collaborating with an author who wants to reposition themselves and break out in a new area of the market, something Tess Stimson did with immense skill when she started writing suspense fiction.
I am constantly on the lookout for new voices, and when I moved to AM Heath from Curtis Brown in 2017 we opened our doors via social media and ran #TellAMH, a week of novel-pitching events on Twitter. In 2019 I judged the Society of Women Journalists’ 125th Anniversary writing competition, and I regularly attend pitching events at writing courses and universities.
While my main focus will always be fiction, in non-fiction I am particularly interested in cookery, travel, health and wellbeing.