I’m so excited to be joining the team at Madeleine Milburn Ltd. It’s my second week here, and I’ve had the chance to settle in at my new desk and admire the view of Shepherd’s Market from our window.
I’m really keen to find brilliant new talent, and I’m going to be focusing on adult fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, I’m looking for upmarket and literary fiction. I’m particularly looking to work with debut novelists. I love voice-driven narratives and family dramas. I read everything that Elizabeth Strout writes, I adore Olive Kitteridge, the writing is beautiful, but I really admire the characterizations. I also loved Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, which was a family drama. It was beautifully written, but the conflict within it and the scope of it was incredible. Ann Patchett is another favourite author, especially the way she constructs her novels, she’s a master.
I also love high-concept novels such as Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. There’s something about being transported by a story, and I love that feeling of disappearing into someone else’s world. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger is another favourite – love stories are so powerful, and themes I enjoy are the concepts of time and loss.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is one of my favourite novels, I’m a huge fan of Chimamanda Adichie, and Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake are books that I recommend to everyone. I could keep listing authors and books I love, but when I think about the elements of a book I’m looking for, I think I’m looking for a great story. I guess I’m looking for a word spell – a book that is powerful and transports a reader.
I’m also looking to build a list of non-fiction. I’m fascinated by topics of science, history, psychology – issues that are challenging the world today. There’s something wonderful about learning about a different perspective to the world, and I’m looking for people who are great communicators, experts who can share their knowledge or inspire. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I love learning about entrepreneurship, forgotten stories of history, and true crime. Writers I admire include Malcolm Gladwell – he’s an incredible storyteller and communicator as well as Seth Godin. I loved reading Susan Cain’s Quiet and Yuval Harari’s Sapiens. I recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott to every writer, and I read everything Rebecca Solnit writes.
I’m also a fan of memoir and narrative non-fiction. Joan Didion is one of my favourite writers, and I also admire Cheryl Strayed. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi broke my heart, and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Anthony Bourdain’s memoirs are some of my favourites.
The other side of my role is focusing on Digital Rights. It’s a really exciting area, and I’m looking to build our agency’s portfolio of digital authors and to think about digital strategy. I want to find great talent in all genres of commercial fiction, debut talent, but also writers who are seeking to expand their profile in translation and film/tv.