I joined Aitken Alexander as an agent in 2017 after six years at Greene & Heaton, and was made a Director of the agency in 2018. I am looking for both fiction and non-fiction, and my authors include Man Booker-shortlisted Daisy Johnson and The Secret Barrister, whose debut was in the hardback non-fiction top 10 for 24 weeks and shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2018. I also represent a few poets, including Dylan Thomas Prize-winner Kayo Chingonyi and winner of the Guardian First Book Award, Andrew McMillan.
In fiction my tastes tend towards the literary. I am always interested to see fiction that is experimenting with form or language, but I am currently especially keen to see ambitious stories about people and the human condition – think A Little Life or The Art of Fielding. Other favourite recent fiction includes Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, The Idiot by Elif Batuman, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner and Friday Black by Nana Kwame Asjei-Brenyah.
I read a wide range of non-fiction, from popular science, psychology, history, economics, current affairs and sports books to memoir and nature writing. I am looking, primarily, for compelling stories, something completely original or a new and surprising take on a subject. I’d love to hear from academics who are working on something popular or journalists looking to break free of prohibitive word counts just as much as I’d like a proposal from a first-time writer with a fascinating story. I am also keen to find an author who has discovered an untold history or a popular economics book on how we might live in the future. Among my favourite non-fiction books are Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, The People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd-Parry, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and anything by Malcolm Gladwell. Recent non-fiction highlights on my own list include Johnny, The Man From the Future: John von Neumann and the Invention of the 21st Century by Ananyo Bhattacharya, Immortal: The New Science of Ageing – and How We Could Stop It by Andrew Steele, The Ten Equations: The Secret Mathematical Formulas for Making Money, Being Smarter, Becoming Successful and Predicting the Future by David Sumpter, Idle Hands: An Alternative History of the World (and Work) by James Suzman, and Civilized: How 4,000 Years of Law Shaped the World As We Know It by Fernanda Pirie.
But non-fiction careers need not start with a book. I do quite a lot of work on the talent side of the business and as such have good relationships with television broadcasters and production companies. I am more than happy to receive approaches from people who are expert in their field and want to take their work to a popular audience but may not yet be thinking about writing a book.