Headline in six-figure pre-empt for debut thriller

Michelle Adams psychological suspense author

The Bookseller has featured the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency’s major deal news ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair for Michelle Adams’ psychological thriller If You Knew My Sister and a further book.

Headline acquired Michelle Adams’ ‘compulsive’ debut thriller in a six-figure deal.

‘Commissioning editor Emily Griffin pre-empted British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to If You Knew My Sister by Michelle Adams, plus one further novel, from Madeleine Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency.

If You Knew My Sister tells the story of Irini, who was given away by her parents at the age of three, whilst her volatile, destructive sister was kept within the family. Twenty years later Irini receives a phone call from her estranged sister to say that their mother has died, compelling her to return for the first time to the family home, and to uncover the shocking truth that has defined both their lives.

Griffin said: “I was completely gripped by Michelle’s novel, which I read in a feverish frenzy over a weekend. If You Knew My Sister is commercial suspense fiction at its very best, with a meaty, unforgettable premise, page-turning, twisty plotting and a transfixing narrative voice. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be launching Michelle’s thriller-writing career here at Headline, and we look forward to putting our ambitious publishing plans into action.”’

The MM Agency has already sold German rights to the major German publisher Goldmann in a six figure auction and has sold Spanish rights to Maeva, Dutch rights to De Fontein and has received multiple offers for rights including Danish and Portuguese.

Late last night, the agency also tied up an impressive deal for North American rights with the US publisher St Martin’s Press.  Milburn said: “It’s wonderful to see Michelle’s fresh and chilling new voice resonate with so many publishers around the world, all intent on making her a leading brand name in our thriving psychological thriller market.”

Headline will publish in both hardback and paperback in 2017.

See The Bookseller feature for the full article.

Publication day for NOT THAT EASY by Radhika Sanghani

Not That Easy by Radhika Sanghani is published today by HarperCollins in the UK, appealing to fans of Girls and Caitlin Moran.

Croatian, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Serbian and Norwegian rights have already been sold. Penguin/Berkley will publish the US edition in November.

Radhika Sanghani is a journalist writing for Telegraph Wonder Women, where she specialises in writing about women and women’s issues.

NOT THAT EASY Radhika Sanghani

Recent graduate Ellie has debt, an unpaid internship and three flatmates who left her with the single room to match her single status.

That’s ok. She doesn’t want a boyfriend anyway. She wants several. But as Ellie tests out every new dating craze she’s realising that the ultimate single lifestyle might not be that easy after all…

“If the women on Sex and the City got dates on a daily basis, and even the more normal-looking girls on Girls, then why wasn’t I? If I wanted to live the fun, twenty something life I was destined to live, I was going to have to up my game.”

Publication Day THE BOY WHO SAILED THE OCEAN IN AN ARMCHAIR by Lara Williamson

Happy Publication Day to Lara Williamson’s THE BOY WHO SAILED THE OCEAN IN AN ARMCHAIR. This extraordinary tale is being published by Usbourne and we’re delighted that it has been selected as Waterstones’ BOOK OF THE MONTH for October 2015!

The Boy who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair

Becket Rumsey is all at sea.

More than anything he needs to say goodbye to a loved one.
His dad has run away with him and his brother Billy in the middle of the night. And they’ve left everything behind, including their almost-mum Pearl. Becket has no idea what’s going on – it’s a mystery.

So with the help of Billy and a snail called Brian, Becket sets out on a journey of discovery. It’s not plain sailing but then what journeys ever are?

When you lose someone, goodbye isn’t the end. There is no full stop. It’s just the beginning of a new and different journey. Then again, that’s something Becket needs to discover for himself…


An extraordinary story of courage, dreams and finding your way.


Lara and Madeleine outside the Waterstones Picadilly Window


Waterstones Canterbury’s amazing themed window!


Literary Agent Sarah O’Halloran’s Wish List

I started at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency last month and now that I’ve mastered the coffee machine I thought it was high time I let you know a little bit more about the kind of books that excite me.   

I’m looking for upmarket commercial fiction, reading group fiction, accessible literary fiction, children’s and YA as well as accessible non-fiction. Across all genres, I’m drawn to strong, unique voices and stylish, distinctive writing.

As a reader I have quite catholic tastes and the list I’ll be developing as an agent will reflect that. This mightn’t sound like terribly helpful information, but it does mean there is very little I definitely won’t consider!

I’m actively looking for reading group fiction: something with a compelling story that addresses issue or ideas that will resonate with the reader long after they’ve finished the book. Some great recent examples are A SONG FOR ISSY BRADLEY by Carys Bray or ELIZABETH IS MISSING by Emma Healey. I also love ambitious stories about the way we live now like THE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer. I’m also drawn to love stories written in thoughtful or interesting ways like THE VERSIONS OF US by Laura Barnett.

I’m also looking for great psychological suspense like APPLE TREE YARD by Louise Doughty. I’m a huge fan of unreliable narrators and I loved THE DINNER by Herman Koch. 

I also venture into the mysterious world of literary fiction. I love plot-driven writing and I have a fondness for dark themes and unlikeable characters! Rob Doyle’s wonderful debut novel HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN, a dark and gritty story set in Dublin full of sex, drugs and violence is exactly the kind of edgy literary fiction that appeals to me. I’m also a massive fan of John Burnside for his bleak, haunting vision and the poetry of his writing. I would love to find a great gothic-style ghost story; a modern-day THE TURN OF THE SCREW would be perfect.

With middle-grade, teen and YA fiction I’m drawn to contemporary stories with an authentic voice. I’m a sucker for a fabulous story about the joy and heartbreak of first love and I love poignant, moving books like the wonderful MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTLEPIECE by Annabel Pitcher. On the other end of the spectrum, I loved WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, a compelling story about a family with a dark secret. I would love to find some wonderful sophisticated literary YA. And like every YA agent I would love to find a British Rainbow Rowell!

My non-fiction list will focus on accessible history, memoir and biography and well as pop-psychology, pop-culture and maybe even a little pop-science. I really enjoyed both THE EXAMINED LIFE by Stephen Grosz and DO NO HARM by Henry Marsh, so if you’re a budding psychoanalyst or brain surgeon, I’m the agent for you.

As a brand new agent I’m actively looking to expand my client list with exciting new authors of fiction and non-fiction, so please do get in touch!

Cover reveal for THE MISSING by C.L. Taylor

We are delighted to share the striking cover for Sunday Times Bestselling author C.L. Taylor‘s new psychological suspense novel, The Missing.

C.L. Taylor is the bestselling author of The Accident and The Lie, which have sold over half a million copies.  HarperCollins will publish The Missing in April 2016, but you can pre-order here.

The Missing by C.L. Taylor

Someone knows what happened to Billy …

When fourteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing from his Bristol home in the middle of the night, there isn’t a single member of his family that doesn’t feel that they are to blame. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one other that it isn’t until a year later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire Wilkinson, Billy’s mother, begins to suffer from terrifying fugues, vanishing from her home and coming to in strange hotel rooms and on unfamiliar streets. In her handbag are items she’s never seen before. The first time it happens, her doctor writes it off as an unusual reaction to stress. But when she wakes from a blackout with blood on her hands, no one can explain how it got there, least of all Claire.

A mother’s bond with her child is unbreakable, but what if she has something terrible to hide …?

Agent Sarah O’Halloran on the York Festival of Writing

York Festival of Writing 2015

Last weekend I went to the wonderful York Festival of Writing, run by the lovely people at The Writers’ Workshop. Over the course of three days literary agents, book doctors, editors and authors presented a whole host of panels and workshops focusing on the nuts and bolts of writing as well as on how the sometimes mysterious world of publishing works. The weekend was a huge amount of fun, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the student accommodation at the University of York was an awful lot nicer than when I was a student!

I spent a lot of time conducting one-to-ones with authors and here are my three top tips on how to give yourself the best possible chance of success when pitching to an agent:

1. Be professional. You only get one opportunity to make a first impression, so make sure that you’ve worked on your cover letter and synopsis. Spelling mistakes make me sad.

2. Be concise. Most of my favourite pitches were short and sweet. I love it when an author can summarise the plot of their novel in a few short, well-written sentences.

3. Be prepared. Pitching can be nerve-wracking so make sure you’ve practiced with a friend. Or failing that, a friendly mirror.

So if you have a (short) pitch and a (spell-checked) manuscript looking for a home, I can’t wait to take a look!




The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow is published today!

Christie Barlow‘s second novel, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, is published today by Bookouture!

Her first book, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, shot up the best seller chart on Amazon and became Number 1 in the UK and US.  Christi has also just been nominated for the 2015 Bizmums Online Mum of the Year!

The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow

After a year of country living, Rachel Young is finally getting into the swing of things and has managed to navigate the choppy (shark-infested) waters of the playground mafia. Or… so she thought.

After discovering her husband has been having an affair, playground mum Penelope Kensington moves herself and her kids into Rachel’s home. And then there’s new school mum Melanie, whose arrival sends ripples of gossip through the playground. Melanie has a few secrets in her closet, and it seems she’s not the only one…

Hilarious and entertaining, with characters you won’t forget in a hurry, fans of Fiona Gibson, Kerry Fisher and Tracy Bloom will love this book.

Publication day for LETTING YOU GO by Anouska Knight

Letting You Go by Anouska Knight is published today by HarperCollins.

Winner of ITV Lorraine Kelly’s writing competition, Anouska is the bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone and A Part of Me, appealing to fans of Jojo Moyes, Rowan Coleman and Liane Moriarty.

Letting You Go Anouska Knight

What if a tragedy occurred and you only had yourself to blame? How do you move on from the past?

Alex Foster lives a quiet life, avoiding the home she hasn’t visited in eight years. Then her sister Jaime calls. Their mother is sick, and Alex must return. Suddenly she’s plunged back into the past she’s been trying to escape.

Returning to her hometown, memories of the tragic accident that has haunted her and her family are impossible to ignore. Alex still blames herself for what happened to her brother and it’s soon clear that her father holds her responsible too.

As Alex struggles to cope, can she ever escape the ghosts of the past?

Copies available here

The launch of THE SECRET FIRE by C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

The first book in the Alchemist Chronicles, The Secret Fire, co-authored by bestselling authors C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld, was launched last night at Hatchards, London St Pancras.

The Secret Fire by C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

C.J Daugherty is the international bestselling author of the Night School series, translated into over 22 different languages, and Carina Rozenfeld is the French bestselling author of over 15 books including the Phoenix series. The Secret Fire, published by Little, Brown in the UK, will also be published in America, Germany, Brazil, Poland, Portugal, France, Turkey, Thailand and Latin America.

Surrounded by fans and journalists, C.J. and Carina entertained the crowd with an exclusive reading from The Secret Fire, followed by a book signing. Copies available here.

Memories of the evening!

Left to right: Carina Rozenfeld, Madeleine Milburn, C.J. Daugherty


C.J and Carina reading from The Secret Fire


Secret Fire cake pops!


The Secret Fire launch in Hatchards, St Pancras

MM Agency Summer Post – Rupert Wallis

Although the British weather may not think it, it’s still technically summer, and therefore time for one of our last MM Agency Summer Posts. Today we’re grilling Rupert Wallis, whose hauntingly beautiful YA novel ALL SORTS OF POSSIBLE has just been published by Simon & Schuster.

What’s your daily routine when you are writing? 

When I’m actually writing a first draft I put down a 1000 words a day, non-negotiable and if it’s going well I try and get as far as I can over that minimum limit.  A lot of ‘writing’ is actually rewriting so when I’m editing a manuscript I give myself a set number of pages to try and get through.  I’m a great believer in letting things work themselves out so if I’m stuck on something – plot, character or whatever, I’ll go for a walk or a cycle or a run and let my brain think silently about it and that way problems tend to untangle themselves.

If you weren’t writing, what other job would you dream to have?

A psychologist because I love observing people and listening to them.  I find them endlessly fascinating – what make them tick, their fears, hopes, problems etc.  Writing has a lot to do with empathy – about getting into the heads of characters – so I kind of get to be a psychologist at some level.  But it would be nice to be able to be dealing with real people I think.

Favourite book as a child?

I devoured Willard Price’s Adventure books.  There were always bits of interesting info in the books, like the advice in ‘South Sea Adventure’ of sucking on a pebble if you’re thirsty and stuck on a desert island!

Favourite food/snack while writing?

I’m a chocoholic but I don’t snack on that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get up out of the chair at the end of the day!  Sometimes I try nuts and fruit to be healthy but I mostly stick to just drinking tea and coffee.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

No, I don’t believe in it.  You can always put something down even if it’s rubbish, and it’s far easier to work with ‘something’ on the page rather than a blank screen/piece of paper.  I tend to re-read what I’ve written the day before to get me rolling.  Sometimes I dip into novels by other people – I just pick a page at random and read it and that gets my mind thinking.  I do the same with poetry or music videos or even movie trailers.  Some sort of stimulus seems to work for me.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, what’s your favourite piece to listen to?

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, it just depends on how I’m feeling.  If I really want to hear the words I’m writing then I don’t or I listen to music that has no lyrics – either classical or modern.  I’m doing a playlist at the moment on Twitter for my new book ‘All Sorts of Possible’ so go check it out

Most unglamorous part of being a writer?

Nothing.  I love it all.  I feel very lucky to have had two books published and always remember how grateful I should be for that.

Do you have any secret talents (other than writing)?

I’m quite a good mimic – I do a very Sean Connery!

What is your favourite spot to read in?

Bed, before I go to sleep because the words get into my head and help my dreams I think – I love to dream.  I’ve done a lot on a sun lounger this summer – two weeks in Turkey – reading and sleeping that is.

What has been your most touching review or message from a fan so far?

I’ve just had a really touching one from The Bookbag for my new novel and here’s a snippet:

“There is one last thing I want to say about All Sorts of Possible but I want to do it without giving a spoiler or really even hinting at one. Um! Ok, let’s leave it at this: this story has one of the most moving, lovely, sad-but-sweet endings I’ve ever read. I cried like a baby at the humanity of it. So, you know, I call that a recommendation, ok?”

Favourite holiday destination? Are you a beach bunny or a city explorer?

I like both.  Sunny cities probably tick both boxes for me like Los Angeles or Rome. I do love Cornwall too because you can have rocky coves or sandy beaches depending on how you’re feeling.  Current favourite place to go is Ile-de-Re in France.  It’s all very shabby chic.  Because it’s an island you can hire bikes for as long as you’re there and cycle round to the various harbours, villages and beaches.  There’s lots of places there overlooking the water to eat oysters and crevettes and drink wine.  It’s pretty lovely actually!

Summer tipple of choice?

Prosecco or Mojitos.  Usually both.

Most importantly, favourite ice cream flavour?

Always tend to go for a combo like chocolate (of course!) and lemon.



Cornwall, one of Rupert’s favourite holiday spots