Category Archives: Meet the DA team

Meet the Team – Rebeka Finch

It’s the start of 20Beka Headshot20, so to ring in the new decade we’re doing a Meet the Team series. The final years of the 2010s brought lots of changes to the Agency and a number of fresh faces have joined the ranks. In this series of posts, you’ll get a little insight into who we are and what we all do here at Darley Anderson.

So, without further ado and to start us off, we speak to Rebeka Finch, assistant to Darley Anderson himself.

First of all, what is your role at the agency?

Newly minted at the Agency, I have just started as Darley Anderson’s Assistant. I read through and engage with the numerous submissions made weekly, as well as with editors, publicists and authors to keep Darley up to date on the latest news. I also work with my colleagues across Children’s Books, Rights and with our other Adult Fiction agents to help ensure the smooth running of the Agency as a whole.

How did you get into Publishing?

I’ve always wanted to get involved with Publishing but I had no idea where to start, especially in such a competitive industry. However, after doing some initial research into the types of areas that I found interesting, I realised that working at an agency means that you are right at the centre of author and publisher relations, as well as working with publicity, contracts and rights. I also love that as an assistant I have the opportunity to engage with submissions, to see the development of new novels, and to chart the progression of new authors at the Agency. Fresh out of university, working at Darley Anderson is a fantastic place to start my career.

Which book changed your life?

Whilst a great many books have stayed with me far beyond the final page, there is only one that holds the place of ‘game-changer’. Prior to my discovery of The Thieves of Ostia (the first in the series), reading was a daily chore that consisted of parental negations back and forth that forced me into opening a book, let alone enjoying it. However, Caroline Lawrence offered a unique take on ancient roman mysteries that 15 years later has still maintained a coveted place amongst my shelves. For a more adult appropriate read, I loved Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. The storytelling and the historical settings offered a unique take on fantasy and historical fiction, the perfect way to lose yourself for an afternoon.

What do you look for in a book?

I love historical fiction, having studied History at university. I love books that really engage with the historical setting and are thoroughly researched. I find it fascinating to think about the streets of London in the 15th century, or Paris during the Revolution. However, I also look for books that don’t attempt to rewrite history, but to engage with it and accompany the events of the day.

Manuscript Wishlist: Camilla Wray

As it’s the beginning of a shiny, fresh new year we thought we would get our fantastic agents to write up their manuscript wishlists for 2015.

We’re kicking things off with what Camilla Wray hopes to find in her lovely slushpile…

#MSWL If I could wish upon a storytelling star…

As agents we’re always looking for what I secretly think of as business mind wants; stories that fit trends (in publishing and culturally), fill gaps in the market, are natural steps forward from bestsellers, or stories and characters that fall into a publisher’s wish list. These are what our agent minds keep an eye out for and what we then often have to fight tooth and nail to represent.

However, also creeping alongside these wants are our heart’s greatest wishes; characters, settings and stories we’d personally fall head-over-heels in love with and would kill to find as readers, even though they might not be what’s en vogue right now. For me, this is why #MSWL is so exciting – I can already hear the beat of my heart’s wishes thundering away. A way to find your dream book? YES, please!

For #MSWL there are three manuscripts across fiction I’d absolutely adore and crave to find. They are career goal finds in a way but whenever they’re ready to cross my path, I’m ready for them…

One: Soldier, Soldier

You may not remember this TV programme but growing up I was obsessed with Soldier, Soldier. The drama, characters, and idea that life and death can live so close together really fascinated me.

I would absolutely love to find a modern day story or series that touches on how it really feels to be in the armed forces; for a soldier who’s had to watch their best friend be changed forever by war, for the husband or wife who can never really understand, for the child whose parent has lived for stretches of a time where every decision could kill them only to come home and be faced with decisions about dinner, washing and what to watch on TV. It’s the real life grit, tears, hopes, devastation and laughs that I feel deserve the chance to be part of a fiction series.

I recently had the amazing luck to start watching Grey’s Anatomy after our brilliant Rights Executive, Emma, told me to give it a try, and in a sense this is what I’d love to find based around the armed forces. Perhaps set in a barracks following a group of people – soldiers, friends, husbands, girlfriends, lovers, sons etc – and the reader really learning what it’s like to be them. In a sense, also like how Jilly Cooper took a village and we obsessively followed her characters; warts and all. As readers you believe these people are real and live everything as they do, you become addicted to finding out everything about these people and the life they live which is so different from yours.

Two: Animal drama for all ages

When I was little I adored listening to my Dad read Colin Dann’s The Animals of Farthing Wood, and Robin Jarvis’ The Deptford Mice. Although an animal obsessive (at eight, I covered all four walls of my room in ripped out National Geographical Magazine pages) they equally intrigue and, if I’m honest, scare me. Do we really know what they’re thinking, or what they’re actually doing when we’re watching (or not watching)?

It’s so easy to view animals from a human point-of-view and so instinctively we push our homosapien assumptions and emotions onto them; but what is it really like to be the little mouse with a stump of a tail that lives on the Turnpike Lane underground tracks? (sadly I ask this question too many times).  Or the little scrawny pigeon with a melted right foot that is always the last to get any food? (Did you know people actually put acid on buildings that erodes away pigeon’s feet? Or that pigeons mate for life and always live where they’re born?)

I really think we’re really ready for a new big scale animal drama adventure series and would absolutely love to find this. Something that either creates a whole new world around everyday animals or creatures; or takes something like wild animals in cities and shows us things we’ve never thought of before, a social hierarchy whilst telling a brilliant tale readers of all ages can become obsessed with.

Three: Sliding Doors…

Ever since the film Sliding Doors the idea of ‘what if’ has been an obsession. We make little decisions every day without thought, but what would have happened if we’d gone left instead of right? Would we have met someone – the one – and left everything else behind? Or would we have been faced with a huge catastrophe that would change our lives forever? It’s a really simple idea that has so much power behind it and I’d love to find a story that follows this idea. Perhaps two storylines running parallel following the same character(s) if they’d gone left that day, or right, or back, or forward, or just stopped…

It doesn’t just have to sit in women’s fiction; a thriller with this angle could also be mind-blowing. We’d have the same crime, but would it be the same outcome? It’s this manipulation of fate and time that really excites me and, as we’ve seen with books like One Day, I think there is a huge appetite for stories that take something simple like one day a year, or one decision, and shows the reader what could have been.

NB: To quickly touch on ‘business mind’ wants, we could rattle away about this for hours and it really deserves its own blog slot down the line. But, as a whole, I think the key is to look around, push yourselves to think as a reader living and breathing today, and then push harder and slightly outside the box. What’s on the charts today? Is it a surprise sell, or does it fit into a trend? How long has this trend been in our lives? What would you love to read and are finding it hard to put your hungry mitts on? These are all a great place to start.

Check out Camilla’s twitter feed for more @CamillaWray

16 Photos You Mustn’t Miss from the Launch of Polly Ho-Yen’s Debut Novel BOY IN THE TOWER

1. This photo of two very familiar looking towers which we spied from the train on our way to the launch

01

2. This picture of the horticulturally appropriate display in the window of the Peckham Review

02

3. And this one of all the sparkling new copies of Boy in the Tower

03

4. This photo of the author herself, Polly Ho-Yen, next to some very suspicious, Blucher blue flowers…

04

5. This one of Polly chatting with fans and supporters

05

6. And this one of the book signing getting on the way

06

7. Here Darley’s Angels Emma Winter, Clare Wallace and Mary Darby pose in front of the display

07

8. And the display starts to rapidly diminish…

08

9. …as the line for signed books grows

09

10. You mustn’t miss this picture of a plastic pigeon sitting on a cake

10

11. Or this one of our own Vicki Le Feuvre pretending to feed a plastic pigeon sitting on a cake.

11 If you want to understand the prevalence of pigeons at the launch you best read Polly’s fantastic novel.

12. This photo of everyone gathering inside the Peckham Review to hear Polly read an extract from Boy in the Tower.

13 Notice that the crowds have demolished the display of books even faster than a Blucher could take down a building.

13. This one of Polly Ho-Yen reading an extract from Boy in the Tower

14

14. And this one of Polly reading a particularly funny extract from Boy in the Tower

15

15. You can’t go without seeing Clare and Mary laughing with Polly Ho-Yen as she signs Mary’s copy of Boy in the Tower either

16

16. And finally, you need a proper close-up look at the amazing hardback edition of Polly Ho-Yen’s Boy in the Tower with cover art by her own husband, Dan

17

BOY IN THE TOWER is on sale now at all good bookshops. Get your copy today and get reading to find our what all the plant, pigeon and Blucher references were about in this post.

14 Pictures You Need to See from the Launch of Kim Slater’s Debut Novel SMART

1. This picture of all these beautiful copies of Smart at Waterstones in Nottingham:

01

2. This picture of our own Mary Darby and Clare Wallace (respectively) marveling at the brilliant turnout:

02

3. And this one of the live music performed by Jake:

03

4. This fantastic reader recommendation from the staff of Waterstones:

04

5. This picture of Kim’s editor Rachel Kellehar of Macmillan Children’s Books introducing her:

05

6. Especially this picture of Kim Slater taking the stage:

06

7. This one of Kim reading an extract from her debut novel Smart:

07

8. And this one of her taking questions from the crowd:

08

9. This picture of Clare queuing to get our copies signed by the author herself:

10

10. This fan telling Kim he liked the opening line of Smart so much that he’d like her to include it with her autograph:

11

11. Kim making good use of the perfect space left for her signature amongst the illustrations on the title page of Smart:

12

12. These fans excitedly clutching their signed copies:

13

13. This photograph of a debut author and her agent:

14

14. And finally this picture of Kim Slater and her Darley’s Angels – Vicki Le Feuvre, Mary Darby and Clare Wallace:

15

SMART is on sale now at all good bookshops. To find out more about Kim Slater and her tips for new writers read our interview with her here.

What’s the Best Love Story of All Time, Camilla?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! (Otherwise known as the day we finally settled the immortal question of just what is the best love story ever told.)

All this week we’ve been giving Darley’s angels a chance to vote for the love story that they think should win the title of Best Love Story of All Time.

Emma, Andrea, Sheila, Vicki and Clare have all nominated their favourites and now agent Camilla Wray has the final word:

Camilla, what is the best love story of all time?

The question of which is my favourite love story is something that has been tucked into my pocket and carried around all week. There are definitely the greatest love stories of all; Love Story, Romeo & Juliet, The Time Traveller’s Wife to name only a few. Tales where One Great Love smashes through a life leaving everyone dizzy and breathless. But with these stories there is also the greatest sadness.

Tragedy is One Great Love’s best friend and as a loveaholic the danger of our addiction is the gut-wrenching catastrophic effect death has on love.

So with my Valentine’s heart on my sleeve I’m unable to cope with considering the thought of such sadness. This is why my answer is turning to what I call the Quiet Love Stories. A love not without history, drama or disaster, but it is grown from hope, kindness and a calmness that allows you just to be, together, forever.

For me a book that has this in every way is Jilly Cooper’s The Man Who Made Husband’s Jealous.

It doesn’t have the intensity, plotting or perhaps epic proportions of the great love stories, but it is the Queen and King partnership of Quiet Love and it really touched my heart.

Lysander Hawkley is a beautiful, lost and misjudged man. He’s a son that craves attention from his father and a human that just wants to belong. When he meets Kitty, the plump, average wife of tyrant Rannaldini, they start an unlikely courtship; one full of the laughter,
support and gentleness neither have ever been allowed before. And it is through these moments of being that a Quiet Love is born.

Alongside this wonderful love story is also that of the infamous Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie O’Hara. All Jilly Cooper fans will have an opinion on ravishing Rupert and in the series he’s a dark character with his demons and danger a plenty. As the series progresses though we have flashes of an unexpected man and our defences are broken down. He is a man of honour and loyalty, yet he’s also a child at heart and someone craving a love that will quietly hold him up until he can believe in himself.

Taggie O’Hara is his Quiet Love. A coltish beauty who sufferers from terrible shyness and dyslexia she represents to him everything he isn’t, and it is Rupert recognising this in Taggie that makes him a better man.

Quiet love

Quiet love

What do you think? Is The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous the best love story ever told? Did you side with any of the other angels instead? Or perhaps you think we’re all crackers and completely failed to mention the obvious winner?

Cast your vote in the comments below.

What’s the Best Love Story of All Time, Clare?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! (Otherwise known as the day where people seem to be carrying around a lot more flowers than is usual.)

It’s time for us to decide once and for all what the best love story of all time is.

All this week we’ve been posting a new answer each day from one of Darley’s angels. But because today is the big day of love itself we’re giving you two answers for the price of one from two of our top agents nonetheless.

Let’s get the day off to a LOVEly start with our Head of Rights and Associate Agent, Clare Wallace:

Clare, what is the best love story of all time?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Read it before the film comes out later this year

Read it before the film comes out later this year

Okay, so this probably isn’t the ‘best’ love story of all time. But when Vicki asked us to write a Valentine’s article for the blog this was the first title I thought of.

For those of you who haven’t already read The Fault in Our Stars (and if you haven’t go and start reading it, like, now) it’s about a teenage girl, Hazel, who has terminal lung cancer and is encouraged by her parents to attend a cancer support group. Here she meets the charming, witty, gorgeous, and in remission, Augustus Waters.

This book is about a lot of things besides cancer, and love is one of them. The two main characters are beautifully drawn; they are bright, funny, courageous, and warm. They are exceptional people in exceptional circumstances. They are also two angsty teenagers falling in love.

At times I found this book difficult to read. The reality of a serious illness doesn’t make for light escapism. But I couldn’t put it down. I smiled and winced and laughed and cried (on the tube) and was absorbed in every word of Hazel’s story, right to its breathtaking, heartbreaking, star-crossed conclusion.

*breaks down sobbing*

*breaks down sobbing*

What do you think? Is The Fault in Our Stars the best love story of all time? Let us know in the comments.

What’s the Best Love Story of All Time, Vicki?

Well, it’s that time of year again. The week of love is here (otherwise known as the week when people everywhere in brand new relationships find themselves wishing that the rules were clearer as they wildly fluctuate between buying a gift which involves more than one diamond or tweeting their new significant other a picture of a giraffe in a bowtie).

We’ve been getting into the Valentine’s Day spirit here at the agency and we thought it was about time we asked Darley’s angels to decide once and for all what the best love story of all time is.

We’ll be posting a new answer every day this week and today our Agency Editor, Vicki Le Feuvre, tells us which she would choose:

Vicki, what is the best love story of all time?

The story goes that Gilbert Ryle was once asked if he ever read any novels and he replied, “oh yes. All six, every year.” Any of those six novels he was referring to, the lot of them written by Miss Jane Austen, might happily qualify as the greatest love story of all time.

But the one for me is Persuasion.

Gilbert Ryle - philosopher of Oxford, reader of Austen, sitter of deckchairs

Gilbert Ryle – philosopher of Oxford, reader of Austen, sitter of deckchairs

Anne Elliot, has always been overlooked by most everyone in her life, “her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way – she was only Anne.” So much so that when she falls for the only man she will ever love, Captain Frederick Wentworth, and has the good fortune to find him returning her feelings she ends up being persuaded that the match is not in her or his best interests, the latter being all that concerns her.

Eight years of regret later and Anne is all of seven and twenty and it is generally agreed by anyone in her circle who cares to notice her that she has quite lost any bloom of youth she may have once had. When several twists of fate conspire to bring Captain Wentworth back into her life she finds herself just as in love with him as ever but he, it seems, cannot forgive her for allowing herself to bend to persuasion all those years ago.

Reading this novel with an autobiographical eye makes it all the more poignant with its strong focus on missed opportunities and the pain that can come from leaving only a few words unspoken.

Indeed, Anne says so little throughout the course of the novel that adaptions have often struggled to bring this story to life. All of Anne’s intelligence and kindness are shown in her reflections and actions which are ignored by those around her and even side-lined within the structure of the novel itself in favour of the trivial chatterings of all the supporting characters. Only Austen’s flare for satire could make this technique work so well and keep the reader so resolutely on the side of the shy, retiring (occasional doormat) Anne.

One of my favourite elements of this love story is how beautifully Austen captures Anne’s sensations of being in love. I don’t know about anyone else but when I’m around someone I’ve fallen for it feels like coming down with the flu combined with a prolonged panic attack. Not everyone feels like this but it was immensely comforting for me to see Anne’s sensibilities reacting in much the same way and she is such a sensible character (especially in contrast to those around her) that it didn’t make her or her feelings seem ridiculous.

I love too that it’s not simple, as it never is. A reader can simultaneously see that Captain Wentworth’s anger is entirely understandable, justified even, at the same time as knowing that he’s got it all wrong. Each character, no matter how preposterous, makes perfect sense and each have excellent depth which makes the whole easily correctable situation seem not only real but utterly insurmountable.

Every time I re-read this book, though I know what will happen, I can never quite believe that the solution really will come. Given that it could so easily go wrong at the beginning, that the chances to correct it are so fleeting and so much needs to be explained, it hardly seems possible that, “a word, a look, will be enough,” to put it right.

The Penguin Classic - for when all the other covers have sappy girls in silly hats on them

The Penguin Classic – for when all the other covers have sappy girls in silly hats on them

What do you think? Is Persuasion the best love story ever told? Let us know in the comments.