The Curtis Brown literary agents are always looking for new writers and new material to read. Take a look at their profiles and see if your novel matches what they are searching for…
Most simply put I am looking for good stories, compellingly told. The books on my list have one thing in common, the combination of a distinctive voice and a great narrative.
I love historical fiction and the sense of being immersed in a world from the past. I relish literary thrillers that can boast jeopardy, great writing and clever plotting in one story, these are the books I press into the hands of my fellow reader. Like many I’ll always be gripped by psychological suspense when horror or peril is woven through a domestic setting but I’m looking for something subtle, dark and dangerous over high dramatic, think du Maurier.
I love books that take me to the other side of the world and I’m definitely open to futuristic fiction and the re-imagining of our world as landscapes for great story-telling. As long as a book sets its rules up with authority and the story can flourish within those confines you’ll find me gripped.
I want a book that feels unique in its setting, where the location is a main character rather than a forgotten bit player. A reading experience that accesses all five of my senses and for that reason is truly immersive.
Authors I don’t represent whose work I read for pleasure include Katherine Arden, Maggie O’Farrell, Ariana Franklin, Susie Steiner, Sally Rooney, Jane Harper, Marian Keyes, Tamora Pierce, Diana Norman, Dick Francis, Agatha Christie, Harriet Lane. The list is endless and ranges across many genres. They are all just great.
On the non-fiction side I am focused on cookery and food writing and am privileged to have worked with Anna Jones from the beginning of her career. She epitomises everything I look for, inventiveness, integrity and joyful eating. If I was forced to retreat to a desert island with only one other cookbook for inspiration it would be anything by Diana Henry.
For submissions, please send your work, a synopsis and a biographical note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started agenting 17 years ago by discovering exciting new writers and my desire to read the new Tracy Chevalier, David Nicholls or Jake Arnott still remains. As I am lucky enough to work with a fantastic range of writers – from authors of first class literary fiction to best selling thriller writers, from ground-breaking journalists to the very best writers in the field of women’s commercial fiction – my focus is original fiction from writers who have a distinctive voice.
I joined the Curtis Brown Books Department in January 2020, having spent the previous six years as an editor at Penguin Random House and Hachette. I am associate agent in Jonny Geller’s office, working with him on his clients and building my own list.
I am looking for confident writing that puts me at ease from the first page; a captivating voice or character, an exciting style, an unusual structure, an original premise or fresh take. A book that can’t be replicated. If you have written a book like that – fiction or non-fiction – then it’s on my wish list.
Jonathan is the President of Curtis Brown. He joined the agency in 1994 from HarperCollins where he was Managing Director of Adult Trade Publishing.He represents a number of best-selling fiction authors who feature in the Guardian Top 100 annual list and he also has a wide range of non-fiction clients and well known autobiographers, from politicians to celebrities.Jonathan was President of the AAA (Association of Authors’ Agents) from 1999 to 2002 and was pleased to be voted Agent of the Year from a shortlist of six literary agents at the British Book Industry Awards in 2009.
I am always on the lookout for really smart new fiction, whether it be commercial or offbeat. I don’t believe in ‘commercial or literary’, I believe in jolly good writing. I am rather fussy yet hungry when it comes to crime, and want something tightly written with razor-sharp observations and a great sense of atmosphere – think The Dry. Dystopian yet grounded fiction holds a special fascination for me, I think it is particularly relevant for the times we live in.
At the moment, I am focusing on finding a spine-chilling novel – think The Woman In Black or The Silent Companions – and something comparable to One Day or A Boy Made of Blocks, to make me feel warm inside. As for non-fiction, I find anything in the world of medicine, real-life bravery, family, loss, love and fortitude utterly compelling. Letters to Louis and Language of Kindness are both good examples. If you are waiting to hear from me and receive an offer of representation in the meantime, please email me directly.
I am actively building my list of reading group and literary fiction, narrative non-fiction and memoir.
In fiction, I look for books with heart and humour, brilliant social observation and clever storytelling. I’m on the hunt for a great returning detective like Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie or Susie Steiner’s Manon Bradshaw. I’d also be keen to find some stylish suspense in the vein of Patricia Highsmith. Stories about families are guaranteed to pique my interest. I’m a huge fan of Liane Moriarty, and some other recent favourites include Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay With Me, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, and Katherine Heiny’s outstanding short story collection Single, Carefree, Mellow.
In terms of non-fiction my tastes are pretty broad, but I am always drawn to memoir, the professional and the personal, beautifully written stories told with wit, warmth and precision. I was entranced by Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm as the study of an expert nearing the end of his career but still in awe of his subject, and I often return to Nigel Slater’s utterly delightful Toast. Other favourites include Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am and Tara Westover’s Educated.
My taste is pretty eclectic but I am mostly interested in adult literary fiction, reading group and some commercial fiction, crime and thrillers. I also do some upmarket narrative non-fiction, journalism and quirky popular culture as well as food & drink and lifestyle.
Favourite books and authors include; The Time Traveller’s Wife, Never Let Me Go, Deborah Levy, Murakami, early Amis and McEwan, Louise Welsh, Scarlett Thomas. That should give you a flavour. I like pacey narratives, unusual characters and the occasional bit of magic.
In fiction, I want to read work by writers who can create characters with whom the reader can identify and champion, who move me, and whom I trust when they take me somewhere I wasn’t expecting to go. In non-fiction, I want to represent biography that inspires, history that tells a story, memoir that entertains, or the kind of pop culture, humour and entertainment projects that people know that they’re looking for the minute they see them and that really deserve to be books.
I’m looking for confident writing voices, and authors who write intelligently but who understand that the labels of genre aren’t a bad thing. I think this can apply equally to commercial non-fiction and story-led literary fiction, and to really clever crime or thriller writing that is about people as well as about plots.