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.
My list is primarily quality fiction, psychological suspense thrillers and books in the personal development and mindfulness area. Narrative memoir, especially Irish ones, are also on my wish list.
I look for a voice that will stand out and also story with emotion at its heart. From contemporary fiction with a dilemma throughout; to interesting historical settings and period; to inspirational how-to non-fiction; and page-turning suspense: these are my main areas of interest. Stories that will span any age range from eighteen to a hundred.
When you are writing your story and it makes you cry, that will be a good indicator it is a book for me.
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.
Great storytelling is the connecting factor in my list and I am fortunate to work with a number of top selling commercial authors. I represent Jeffrey Archer and Gerald Seymour although the majority of my fiction clients seem to be women! They include Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly, Elizabeth Noble, Freya North, Deborah Moggach and Sue Townsend.
As I have a very full list I seldom take on new clients, although there are exceptions for something that really grabs me and I took on a debut novelist only last week.
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.
I look for great writing in literary fiction and general fiction, psychological suspense, crime and thrillers, historical fiction, as well as variations on all of the above. I like novels which engage with contemporary culture and ones which offer a new, unexpected take on familiar genres and ways of writing, all the better if they make me think and the storytelling keeps me on my toes. I’m always curious about debuts with a unique voice and perspective, and writers who are hard-working, ambitious and committed to the art and craft of writing. This goes for literary and popular fiction. I like gripping plots, fascinating, non-obvious narrators, well-developed characters and new ideas.
On my list of clients and in my reading pile for pleasure you will find authors whose prose is lean and muscular and those more playful with language and ideas. I love great social observation, stories about families and relationships, atmospheric or unusual settings, and haunting, dark or unsettling narrations. I enjoy elements of speculative fiction (think Margaret Atwood rather than straight genre) and the supernatural. My favourite David Mitchell novel is number9dream, my favourite Daphne du Maurier is My Cousin Rachel. Here are a few examples of contemporary novels I don’t represent but I really enjoyed reading: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, How to Be Both by Ali Smith, Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. You will find the list of clients I am proud to represent here.
I grew up reading books from around the world and I am always drawn to international literature.
I look after primarily children’s and young adult fiction so there are tigers and princesses, monsters and pirates, dinosaurs and fairies, superheroes and unlikely heroes all bursting from my bookshelves. I’m keen to encounter new creatures and creations and to explore all kinds of different worlds (including the real world!). I’m looking for new authors to team up with so if you are writing a children’s book, or a book for young adults then do send it my way. I’m on the look out for engaging stories that really pack a punch. At the moment I’m keen to find middle grade or YA fantasy stories, something with a great twist or anything with a gothic feel. I’m also open to other ideas, however, so if your book doesn’t fit these criteria it won’t stop me from considering it. I like surprises! I also write a blog about Writing for Children which offers more advice and tips on what to submit.
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.