First of all, what is your role at the agency?
I’m the crime, thriller, mystery and general fiction agent at the agency.
Which book changed your life?
This is such a tough one…can I change it to what three books changed my life? I can definitely answer that and can still remember exactly where I was when I read the following books.
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell was my first crime book and instantly got me addicted. I read it when I was 14 on holiday near Brighton and from then on I was an addicted crime/thriller reader. Cornwell balances character, spine-chilling story and an incredible insight into forensic pathology brilliantly. And she opened up the market to female writers in the genre.
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy is my next favourite and I have read this book about 30 times. Maeve’s characters get under my skin every time. I think Benny is my all time favourite heroine. She’s honest, funny, clever and brave – all things I’d love my daughter to strive to be – which goes against the current emphasis on looks, weight and money. This makes me really sad as I think it makes people overlook what is the most important part of themselves and also, with all the glam and glitter, you’re just making it harder to be truly happy with your real self.
Lastly Polo by Jilly Cooper. I can still remember sneaking this book off the suitably top shelf at home even though my Mum said I couldn’t read it yet. I’d wait until she’d gone out or to bed and read it leaning against my radiator eating Nutella and toast whilst devouring the life of Rupert Campbell Black. For me, this series of books are genius. Jilly Cooper’s characters grabbed me and left me with a cloud of sadness when I finished. I now often suggest to my authors (who you’ll be amused to learn are usually male!) to read her books just to study how she characterises. Although I guess on paper the characters represent everything opposite to what I love about Circle of Friends, at the heart of the story (and all of this series) good always overpowers bad. In all fiction this is vital. I also love how the victorious characters always have a heart of gold and are misunderstood or overlooked by everyone else until they succeed at the end, and this is very like Maeve and Benny. Everyone loves an underdog.
What book are you waiting for?
Anything that surprises, excites and challenges the reader. Wonderful, real, inspiring characters. Tense cliffhangers that keep you up at night and desperate to tell your friends about. In fact the last bit is the best test as when you find something really special it is so incredibly exciting all you want to do is stop every person you pass on the street and make them read it. This feeling is what makes the submission pile so brilliant and a hugely important part of my job.
You are stranded on a desert island. You can choose one luxury item to take with you, one celebrity guest to join you and you will be granted one wish (which you cannot use to wish yourself off the island). What and who do you pick?
My luxury item would be a pair of goggles, I’d definitely take David Attenborough and my wish would be tougher skin as I’m not sure how long my lobster self would survive in the sunshine.
Share your favourite quotation:
‘Crying wolf is a real danger’ David Attenborough
2 Comments Add yours
Excellent post. Looking forward to your debuts from AJ Cross (the new Patricia Cornwell?) and Jason Dean, out soon I hope. I am putting together a submission for Keshini and hopefully, your good self, but I’m going to wait on your wise words of advice on query letters before I send it.
One thing, Maeve Binchy? I know she is a talented storyteller but as an Irishman, I’m afraid I have cultural problem, and that’s largely my fault I suppose. Although I applaud her success, I’m not her audience. Jilly Cooper and Patricia Cornwell – I’m with you, two great books.