MSt tutor Roopa Farooki calls for diversity in fiction for children in “The Author” magazine

In “The Author” magazine, the journal of the Society of Authors, MSt tutor Roopa Farooki, “calls for more diverse heroes in books written for children and young adults”.

Download and read the full article  (thanks to “The Author” magazine for permission to make the pdf available. You can see more about the magazine and subscribe to it here).

MSt tutor Marti Leimbach – “A Word On Agents”

A Word On Agents
Marti Leimbach

A writer may think of agents in London, New York and elsewhere as gateways to publication in a major house, or she may consider them as fortresses that barricade her from the world of publishing and all her hopes in that direction.

They are both, of course.  At times, they may seem elusive, discouraging, and wholly disinterested in anyone who isn’t already in the media with a grand following. They attend parties and launches and awards dinners for already-established authors, and appear to have no interest whatsoever in bringing aspiring authors into the fold.

By contrast, agents can dazzle you with attention. Sell a few stories, or appear in a newspaper article with what seems like a good non-fiction idea, or have another writer slip your manuscript into the right hands, and suddenly you are treated like a celebrity. The same agent assistants who once protected their boss from you now crowd around, telling you how much they love your manuscript. The assistants are smart and educated and often the daughters of terribly famous other authors. They present you to an agent who has a list of the best prospective editors for your work, ideas of how to sell your foreign rights, and enormous confidence in your future. You go out to lunch and your agent wants to talk about you, your book, and even your next book. Finally, you’ve entered the beguiling and heady love affair that is the author/agent relationship, with your life’s work at its centre, and it feels just great.

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MSt alumna Daisy Johnson “On getting an offer for my writing …”

On getting an offer for my writing …

Daisy Johnson

I found out I was going to be a Jonathan Cape author on a Thursday morning at eleven. My agent, Jack Ramm at Eve White, had told me the night before he’d asked for the final offers from the publishing houses who were in the auction. He would ring me to discuss my decision the next day.

I didn’t sleep very much that night. I was certain not only that the deal was going to fall through but that, really, all along it hadn’t been me they’d wanted. There was another Daisy with a similar surname and a short story collection. The idea of someone wanting my writing, not only wanting but PAYING money for my writing was, and is, mindboggling to me.

The short story collection I’d finished, Fen, is set in the Fens of England. I decided I would not spend Thursday morning hyperventilating, instead I would cook a Fen Feast for some friends to celebrate whatever-the-outcome-would-be.

When Jack rang I was trying to whip egg whites into chocolate mousse like peaks with a fork.

My housemates in the next room went very quiet.

It was a two book deal, for Fen and for my second book, a novel. I lay on the floor for a while and then rang my Dad who swore eloquently down the phone.

Getting a degree was exciting; getting into Oxford more so; beginning working with Jack on the collection was phenomenal and a huge privilege. But getting a book deal with Jonathan Cape is the pinnacle, the apex of everything we all work for.

(image. from Eve White Agency)

MSt tutor Wendy Brandmark: “On Letting go of a Novel”

On Letting go of a Novel
head shot Wendy

Wendy Brandmark

The launch of novel is an odd experience. Suddenly a book which never let go of me, no matter how exasperated I became with the puzzle of its story and bothersome group of characters, is finally making its way in the world.

My second novel, The Stray American, came out just before Christmas. I’ve been delighted to hear from readers who identify with Larry’s lonely journeys through London, who enjoy the comedy and have favourite characters and scenes. The novel is no longer mine. It’s true there were editors and writers who read the book before it was published, whose comments affected the revisions: the ending changed and most recently the title. But I miss the writing of the very first drafts when a tangle of relationships emerged from what had been just an image of expatriate Americans in London.

When asked why she wrote, poet Denise Levertov once said, ‘I like to make a thing.’ We spend much time thinking about agents and publishers. Somehow a book is not alive until it is published, and we as writers can only be validated in this way. But looking back, I think the real satisfaction was in early days when the novel began to take shape. That lone journey.


MSt tutor Wendy Brandmark’s novel The Stray American is published by Holland Park Press.