Giles Milburn: What I’m Looking For
Actively looking for: high concepts; historical fiction; narrative non-fiction; books with series potential; thrillers; literary fiction; original voices; unfamiliar settings; ordinary people in epic times; coffee table books; book club; stark but striking prose; stocking fillers; reimaginings and retellings; undefined structures.
In addition to my role as Managing Director at the agency, I am looking to develop a small list of literary and historical fiction and non-fiction, as well as books with strong series potential.
A huge fan of books that not only present a strong and unique character, I also love to be caught up in the atmosphere and mood of time and place. This is not easy to do, and those writers that achieve it are indeed masters of their craft.
I have recently finished the latest of Toby Clements’ wonderful Kingmaker series, which through stark prose and thorough research brings the tragedy, confusion and vulnerability of ordinary people caught up in the enormous events of the Wars of the Roses vividly to life. In his books Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier carries the reader on a bed of almost lyrical language into a young, uncertain America battling to find its identity. Beautifully evocative and knowledgeable, I would love to find similar books that present historical detail and events through a prism of good old-fashioned storytelling.
Room, by Emma Donoghue, is another truly unique and utterly mesmerising book. Again, the language is clever and the voice totally convincing. And what a brave subject. I am looking for similar fiction; work that challenges the reader, and sometimes takes them beyond their comfort zone.
As the old cliché goes, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction, and if the story is interesting enough then I would be keen to hear about it. I am thoroughly enjoying Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre at the moment, and his account of one the most extraordinary characters to emerge from the Second World War. Any other non-fiction that never ceases to amaze is also warmly welcomed.
Ten of my favourite books:
Winter Pilgrims by Toby Clements
Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantell
London: The Autobiography by Peter Ackroyd
Conclave by Robert Harris
Room by Emma Donoghue
Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth
The Cicero trilogy by Robert Harris
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Restoration by Rose Tremain
The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg