“I love the deal. I LOVE the deal. I mean to be an agent you have to love the deal. I love sending out a book and getting those emails 24 hours later saying ‘I loved it! Don’t let someone else buy it.” It’s a sunny Tuesday morning and I’m chatting with literary agent Nelle Andrew in a coffee shop in Bloomsbury. We are opposite the offices of Peters, Fraser and Dunlop where she works as a primary agent, a ‘hunter-gatherer’ as she puts it, searching out and representing the UK’s brightest writing talent.
Emma Paterson’s author list reads like a who’s who of influential people currently shaking up cultural discussions in the UK. Emma Dabiri (Don’t Touch My Hair), Otegha Uwagba (Little Black Book), Charlie Brinkhurt-Cuff (Mother Country), Bridget Minamore (Titanic), Panashe Chigumadzi (These Bones Will Rise Again), Funmi Fetto (Palette – a beauty bible for women of colour, out October 2019) are just a selection of her clients. Paterson studied English at Cambridge then completed an MA in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Her first publishing job was as editorial assistant for an academic publisher. She moved on to an agents’ assistant role at the prestigious Wylie Agency, joined Rogers, Coleridge & White in 2013 and is now a literary agent with Aitken Alexander Associates. She was named the Bookseller Rising Star of 2018. 1. You completed an MA at SOAS then went into academic publishing before deciding you preferred fiction publishing. How hard was it to get an assistant position at The Wylie Agency? The first time I interviewed for that position, …
“When I was younger, I wrote stories with white heroines. I thought, ‘If I want to be published, this is what I’ll have to do. No one wants to read about black people.’” Romance writer Talia Hibbert is talking about her protagonists. Specifically, about the effort it took to stop imagining them as thin, white women and write characters who looked like her. “I grew up reading all these romances that I loved and they were so important, but they were also the kind of books that said, ‘His hand looked so dark against her pearlescent blah, blah, blah.’” She rolls her eyes and smiles.
I meet Alexandra Sheppard on a sweltering September evening. She’s travelled down from North London by bus to meet me at the Southbank Centre. She’s dressed in denim dungarees, her hair is pulled into a top knot and she has that baby-faced youthfulness that probably gets her carded all the time. We’ve met once before, at a Black Girls Book Club event where I got her to agree to a proper sit down so I could get all the dish on her highly anticipated debut novel, Oh My Gods.
I first heard of Christina C. Jones when she wrote a guest post for Quanie Miller’s blog on Five Ways To Build Your Author Platform. I nodded agreeably to all her advice, then did a double-take when I came to the Author Profile at the end and read that she’d written nine books since 2013. I immediately raced over to Amazon to read an extract from her latest novel at the time, the romantic suspense story Catch Me If You Can. I swiftly confirmed that she was not only a prolific writer but also a highly talented one.
When I was a kid I would use a torch to read under my quilt long after ‘lights out’. Some books were just too good to leave unfinished. Reading Black Diamond, Havana Adams’ current release, took me right back to those days. I started reading it for a review but I Could. Not. Put. It. Down. The story of abandoned twin girls whose lives take vastly different turns after one is adopted by a Hollywood star and the other by a cruel pastor, sucked me in like quicksand. It was utterly brilliant from start to end.
Since it launched in March 2014, the web series An African City has attracted thousands of online viewers and scored a ton of critical acclaim for its bold approach to sex, its multifaceted female protagonists and its dazzling aesthetic. I spoke to the show’s creator and writer, Nicole Amarteifio about her creative process, feminism and what it takes to fulfill a dream. I was born here in Ghana. But shortly after the December ‘81 coup my family decided to leave. First we went to England, then after about seven years we moved to America where I spent most of my life. Even as a child growing up in America I always knew that I wanted to go home, and home was Ghana. So shortly after college I made the move back. I remember one of my first bosses out of college, she loved my writing. It gave me that confidence, that bounce in my step. I started writing poetry and poetry turned into a chapter of a novel. When I was in grad …