What is your role at the Agency?
Literary Agent and Proprietor.
How did you get into publishing?
I had a degree in Theology because I had intended to become an ordained Church of England Clergyman like my Father, Grandfather and Great-Grandfather. But I changed course, wanting instead to pursue a career as a writer. However, my early attempts at writing a novel ended in failure because I did not have the gift of storytelling. So, I then decided to go into book publishing. However, the only jobs I could get were with religious publishers, first at Mowbray and then at SCM Press. Subsequently, I developed a very successful self-help/popular psychology series from scratch at Sheldon Press. Now owned by Hodder and Stoughton.
Nobody ever offered me a job in trade publishing. And I didn’t have the financial means or contacts to start a Publishing Company. So I opted to start my own Literary Agency and focus predominantly on commercial/entertainment fiction. That was 33 years ago. And my lucky break came in 1992 when Martina Cole sent me her first novel Dangerous Lady which I sold for £150,000. After that I never looked back.
What’s the best part of your job?
Discovering new talent. And then doing a really great deal for the writer’s debut book, which literally will change their life.
What do you look for in a book?
Character. Pace. Authenticity. Entertainment. A page turner.
What’s on your to read list?
I don’t now read much contemporary fiction aside from my established fiction authors. But I do like to keep abreast of some of the current bestselling authors. For example, Mick Herron’s Slough House Thrillers. And Colleen Hoover. And my doctor has recommended Twelve Secrets by Robert Gold.
But my all time favourite novelist is Anthony Trollope. So far I’ve read half of his total output of 40+ books.
Who is your favourite fiction character?
I have a number. Jack Reacher definitely. But also Inspector Maigret, Charlie Parker, and Sir John Falstaff.
What is your go to reading snack.
What soon to be published book are you most looking forward to reading?
All my authors’ next novels.
Berkshire Hathaway’s Letters to Shareholders (1965-2014) by Warren Buffett. Recently published and over 750 pages of financial analysis. It was given to me recently by everyone at the Agency on our 33rd Anniversary.
More of John MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels.
What book do you wish you could read again for the first time?
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. All of PG Woodhouse’s novels about Lord Emsworth and his Pig. The Firm by John Grisham. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. And The Garden of the Beloved by Robert Way (the book I’m most proud of having published).