For today’s Manuscript Wishlist we’re welcoming Felicity Blunt, literary agent at Curtis Brown, who has the inside scoop on what she’s currently hoping to find in her slush pile.
I originally studied law and trained as a barrister before becoming an intern at Curtis Brown in 2005. I fell in love with the world of books and have worked there ever since, becoming an agent and building a list of debut writers. I represent both fiction and non-fiction clients but my non-fiction list is predominantly cookery. You can submit to me easily through the Curtis Brown website, we’ve hopefully made it easy for you to send in material and not fear it lost to the postman!
Fiction Clients: amongst them Rosamund Lupton, the Estate of Daphne du Maurier, Tamar Cohen, debut writers Renee Knight (Disclaimer) and Jessica Cornwell (The Serpent Papers) both to publish next year.
I find describing what I am looking for one of the hardest parts of my job. My taste, like every agent’s, is somewhat amorphous, ever-growing and subjective. I love reading a huge range of fiction and across many genres, from Hilary Mantel to Lee Child, and the authors I represent are all on my list because I think they write beautiful and compelling fiction.
I love working editorially with debut writers and am always on the look out for work that combines a distinctive voice with a strong and original story. I’m definitely drawn to books with a dark undertone. I’m lucky enough to work on the Estate of Daphne du Maurier and I think both Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel are masterclasses in how to reveal small details that build to an unsettling and disturbing whole. I love psychological suspense or thrillers, particularly where peril or risk is introduced to a domestic setting. Unreliable narrators are now, particularly since Gone Girl, a well-trodden thriller device but when used in original and different ways can create a richly multi-layered story telling experience. When I read Rosamund Lupton’s Sister for the first time I was completely immersed in Beatrice’s quest for the truth about her sister and in that case the twist in the narrative rather than being a trick played on the reader went to the heart of the main character’s sacrifices and how she had sustained herself till the end of her story. With a book like that you have both intricate and delicate plotting coupled with beautiful imagery and writing – something that elevates the story into a word-of-mouth reading experience.
I love historical fiction because when done well it transports you to another time and allows you to absorb something of history through the character’s stories. I have read many times Arianna Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death, set during Henry II reign it has a female protagonist who is both contrary and contemporary. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was one of my favourite books of last year. The device that gave each moment the potential to repeat and unravel held me in it grip till the very last page. The wonderful Jennifer Egan plays with time in a different way in the Pulitzer winning A Visit from the Goon Squad as she traverses back and forth along a timeline using different characters to unpeel history and reveal future in the book’s overall narrative. You may meet one as a man and then later as a young boy. Powerful and moving.
Women’s fiction when executed with the humour, pathos and intelligence of Marian Keyes is always going to excite. Her books have had me laugh out loud one moment and want to close my eyes the next such is her honesty about her characters. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple had me weeping with laughter. I’d encourage everyone to read her short story available online Dear Mountain Room Parents.
Simply put I like good stories, well told.
Think you have the perfect manuscript for Felicity? Take a look at Curtis Brown's submission guidelines. Best of luck!