This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Kerry Glencorse has worked for Editions Flammarion in Paris, David Godwin Associates in London and since 2008 has run the London office of Susanna Lea Associates. The agency, “a boutique agency with international reach” also has offices in Paris and New York, as well as a digital publishing wing in France, and represents a wide range of authors, including a number of international bestsellers.
I have always loved stories and reading and when I did an internship at a publishing house in Paris, I knew I had found the world I wanted to work in. I started out selling translation rights and through my various roles I have been lucky enough to work with an incredibly diverse range of authors, from Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai to the bestselling French author Marc Levy, from Tash Aw to Stephen Clarke, and everything in between. I started taking on my own clients six years ago, and am building a list of authors I’m passionate about. Fiction clients include: Joanna Bolouri (her wonderfully funny and irreverent debut The List is now sold in 14 territories), Louisa Hall (whose second novel, Speak, due out next year, is a brilliant, multi-voiced narration of the creation of Artificial Intelligence), Suellen Dainty and Justin Huggler. I also represent non-fiction; mainly memoir and narrative non-fiction.
So, what’s on my fiction manuscript wishlist? As every other agent has said, it’s a difficult question. A good book is always greater than the sum of its parts, and defining that magic dust is tricky. But, broadly, I’m looking for fresh, compelling fiction with an authentic voice that touches me somehow: good stories that are well written. I’d love to find more smart, feisty commercial women’s fiction, working on Jo Bolouri’s debut has been a blast; I love the high-end commercial/ book club area, but more than ever you need an eye-catching premise or a neat narrative device to stand out, especially for a debut: the repeating one day of David Nicholl’s One Day for example. The bar has been set very high for psychological thrillers by the likes of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, so you have to be pretty certain of your calling, but I’m open to good crime or thrillers. My client Andrea Carter’s “cosy crime” title Whitewater Church is due out next year, which I adore for the strong, female solicitor protagonist and the remote Irish setting. Unexpectedly, I have just signed up a literary sci-fi writer, reminiscent of David Mitchell or Kazuo Ishiguro, incredibly imaginative and beautifully written. I want a story, characters and a world that I can become immersed in, that moves me and stays with me, be that an ace spaceship fighter pilot quashing a rebellion on Mars or a recently single Glaswegian thirty-something composing her sexual wish list. I have a soft spot for contemporary family dramas and romance, especially ones that really tug on the heart strings.
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Outside of work I try to read quite widely, novels I have recently enjoyed include: The Goldfinch (I loved The Secret History too), Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, I’m a big Hilary Mantel fan (what a world she creates! And her Cromwell is so fabulous!), I loved One Day and am looking forward to reading David Nicholl’s new one Us, I also can’t wait to read the new Sarah Waters. I have just finished Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which is an excellent example of a clever set-up which allows for a wonderful and profound examination of love in many forms, whilst maintaining real tension.
And as a little extra, because all writers should look at this, and it’s one of my favourite links, here is the late, great Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories.
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