Rowan Lawton is here to share her manuscript wishlist today. A literary agent and the co-founder of Furniss Lawton – the literary division of the James Grant Group – Rowan represents writers of both fiction and non-fiction and her taste is wide-ranging. Current fiction clients include a number of debut novelists and contemporary women’s fiction authors including Novelicious award-winner Emylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers, a Richard & Judy 2012 Book Club selection, and Lindsey Kelk, whose most recent novel, I Heart Christmas, was a Sunday Times Bestseller. Over to you, Rowan.
I’m always on the look-out for a gem in the slush pile and would love to see submissions from Novelicious readers. See our website for the specific guidelines of how to submit to me and do mention in your covering letter that you’re getting in touch after reading this.
I love women’s fiction in all its guises – from contemporary romance and romantic comedy to psychological thrillers and wider reading group fiction. Here are three specific areas in which I’m very keen to find new writers. It goes without saying that I love the writing and novels of authors I currently represent. Therefore, in the main part I’m going to use other books and writers who I don’t work with to give you a feel for my taste.
Contemporary romance/ romantic comedy – I like a bit of edge to my romance novels, whether that be a really distinctive voice or the way in which you write about sex. ideally, in this area, I am looking for books with a British or Irish female central character. If you’re trying to make me laugh, I want it to be so funny that I spit some tea out while reading (which is what happens when I read Lucy-Anne Holmes and Lucy Robinson). I want to really identify with the emotional life of the protagonist, I love it when a novel hits on a nubby moral or emotional issue. My client Nicola Doherty does this wonderfully in both of her novels and others authors I really admire particularly for this quality are Jojo Moyes, Stella Newman (with Pear Shaped) and Gemma Burgess (in A Girl Like You) .
Psychological thrillers – I’m a big fan of a psychological thriller, particularly those with a domestic setting and relationship issue at their heart. Recently I really enjoyed Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty as well as Samantha Hayes’ Until You’re Mine and The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison. I enjoy reading an unreliable narrator, and/or a first person story with lots of foreshadowing (i.e. ‘if I’d only known on that day what I know now..’).
Issue led debuts – The issue in question could be a moral one, a novel I loved that does this really well is one by Emily Giffin, Love the One You’re With. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty does this wonderfully too. Whatever that issue is, for me it’s all about it throwing up conflict for the key protagonist in a way that resonates with a wide readership.
Interested in submitting? You can send up to 10,000 words of your manuscript, or the first three chapters, as either a word or pdf document along with a one page synopsis, to email@example.com. Ensure that the word ‘submission’ is clearly marked in the subject line and don’t forget to mention you read Rowan’s wishlist on Novelicious in your cover letter.