I am actively building my list of exciting new writers of both fiction and narrative non-fiction. On the fiction side, I read widely so don't like to be too prescriptive, but I do love novels that explore those moments that define our lives and collective experience: falling in or out of love; dealing with loss; navigating frailty, friendship, dysfunction or loneliness. And I'm drawn to novels about families, relationships of all kinds, that are sharply observed with a clever psychology.
For what it’s worth, a few novelists who I think do this wonderfully are Maggie O’Farrell, Yaa Gyasi, Kate Atkinson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anne Tyler, Ann Patchett, Sarah Waters, Zadie Smith and Jenny Offill. Above all I’m drawn to a strong voice, characters I want to drop everything to spend time with and beautiful, confident writing that grabs you by the hand from the first page and pulls you headlong into a memorable story. I’m not particularly led by genre but I am broadly on the lookout for literary / upmarket book group fiction, high concept novels and crime or thrillers driven by a compelling lead. I'm afraid I don't represent children's or YA fiction.
I’d also love to see great food writing (I especially adore Nigel Slater), big ideas books that help us to think about the world today, pop science, memoir or life writing and narrative non-fiction of all kinds, although I'm particularly keen to find new writing on race, gender and sexuality. If you happen to be the next Maggie Nelson, please send your words my way.
Editorial work is one of my favourite parts of the job so I'm absolutely committed to helping debut writers get their work into the best possible shape to share with publishers. I'm very happy to hear from authors with any initial queries so just drop me a line, and you can submit to me directly via email.
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And now Emma Finn faces the 7 Questions:
Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
An impossible question! This would change near-constantly but for now I’ll plump for:
Olive Kitteridge / Elizabeth Strout
The Secret History / Donna Tartt
Fingersmith / Sarah Waters
(I know it’s cheating but Another Country / James Baldwin and All My Puny Sorrows / Miriam Toews would be strong contenders too, along with all the Harry Potters).
Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?
When Harry Met Sally
Blue is the Warmest Colour
(And sorry but it’s true: the entire Fast and the Furious franchise… I can’t justify it at all but I love them)
The Good Wife
Grey’s Anatomy (the early years)
Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
Collaborative, creatively ambitious, talented and kind.
Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?
Right now, my perfect query would be for a gorgeously written, accessible literary / book group novel with strong characters, a fantastic voice and powerful, compelling storytelling. Anything with a brilliant, evocative sense of place always goes down well with me too, and I would love an original love story that will make me cry.
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?
My favourite thing is the freedom to follow your taste and your passions – it’s a joy to be able to champion writing you feel strongly about and do your level best to find an author’s work the perfect home. The people are a big part of what I love too: I have wonderful colleagues and our authors are particularly lovely.
Least favourite is the inevitability of disappointing the majority of writers who submit, and the fact that I never have enough time to read everything I’d like to.
Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)
I’m not sure I have any unassailable pearls but I’d say focus on the story you want to tell and try not to be side-tracked by trends or caution in the market. The novels I’ve fallen for fastest on submission have always been fearless, original and entirely themselves, so trust your instincts.
Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
At the moment I think Elizabeth Strout. Her writing completely undoes me and she is so extraordinarily perceptive and tender on the small failures and intimacies of life – I adore her.
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