I joined Aitken Alexander as an agent in 2017 after six years at Greene & Heaton.
I am looking for both fiction and non-fiction. In fiction my tastes tend towards the literary and I am keen to see novels that are engaging with the world we live in, experimenting with form or language, asking what it is to be human, or telling us something about a particular place or period. Fiction I’ve enjoyed recently includes: Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Addlands by Tom Bullough, The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, 10:04 by Ben Lerner, The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne and all of Nell Zink’s novels. Away from literary fiction I’d love to find some really good and original crime fiction – I’m a big fan of Patricia Highsmith, Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly – so do also get in touch if that’s what you’re writing.
I read all sorts of non-fiction, from memoir, history and nature writing to popular science, psychology, economics, current affairs and sports books. I am looking, primarily, for interesting 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 an original idea or fascinating story. And without wanting to be too specific I’d love 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 and authors are Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, The People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd-Parry, Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, Running the Table by Jon Wertheim, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, Craig Taylor’s Londoners and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.
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.
You can follow me on Twitter on: @ChrisWellbelove
The Secret Barrister