Bookseeker Literary Agency

Introducing authors and publishers.


Your agent – “Visionary” and photographer!

Paul writes:
After an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival – a session on literary prizes – where I joined in the final Q&A session, the Administrator of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction made a point of coming over to shake my hand. She thanked me for such a “visionary” question. I must admit that I’m still basking in the rosy glow.

However, you writers do not really need a “visionary” for an agent, you need a grafter. The Book Festival is over, and there is plenty of work to do, so I have planted my feet firmly on the ground. But if you would like a flavour of the Festival before I finally close the door on it until next year, my little photo-album is here.


Reviews, and news from Edinburgh Book Festival moving

Paul writes:

After several years writing event reviews for an Edinburgh-based organisation, I am now working as a freelance. I’ll be publishing my reviews on my occasional blog for light academic and other articles. But I’m also available if anyone else would like to engage me to write for their publication.

Also I’ll be moving my annual photo album of the Edinburgh International Book Festival from this site to the same place, so please feel free to follow the blog.

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This agency works hard for its clients, often going further than many established agencies go on their behalf. It is therefore very irksome when an established publishing house does not bother with the courtesy to reply to a letter, even though a stamped envelope was included for their convenience. How much time does it take to pop a compliment slip into an envelope?

Then there is the major publishing house that does reply, but has on three occasions sent us an identical letter in reply to ours. The letter is the standard one they send to authors, advising them to get an agent, ignoring the fact that it was an agent that wrote to them in the first place! What is more, they have ignored letters pointing that out. It is discourteous, and actually plain damned negligent. Thankfully there is only one publisher in the whole UK that does this. We’re saying no more for now, but next time we’re considering simply naming them!

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There have not been many updates here lately. This does not mean there’s nothing happening. We’re working towards at least one book launch before the end of the year, for example. Keep watching this space.


Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017

Paul writes:

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is in its last few days. I have spent a great deal of time there this year, but instead of writing about it, I’ve decided to compile a kind of photo-essay of the people and views I came across. Enjoy.

11 a damp day

My first day in Charlotte Square Gardens this year started damp, so here’s a monochrome study to start you off.

6 Sunil Khilnani

Professor Sunil Khilnani, writer and academic.

8 Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay, Scotland’s ‘Makar’ (our Poet Laureate).

12 Jackie Kay

Jackie is a charming person who interacts with genuine friendliness with her readers.

1 chris close

Every year, photographer Chris Close makes portraits of visiting authors and speakers, stringing the results up around the Festival’s walkways. There’s a small sample below.

2 Chris close3 chris close

4 chris close

Left to right. Top: Ade Edmondson, Liu Zhenyun, Greg James & Chris Smith. Centre: Simon Armitage, Ehsan Abdollahil, Mariana Enriquez. Bottom: The Last Poets, Paul Auster, Andy Hamilton.

7 Magnus Mills

Magnus Mills

10 Nick Barley, Misha Hoekstra, Daniel Hahn

Festival Director Nick Barley with Misha Hoekstra and Daniel Hahn – members of the panel for ‘The Power of Translation’.

28 Children's bookshop

5 filming

Braving the video camera.

13 Penny Pepper

Penny Pepper. I love the control knob on her wheelchair!

9 flashpack

Sometimes a shot of the professional photographers is too good to miss…

14 Paul Auster photocall

… here they are, capturing American literary giant Paul Auster.

16 Hanif Kureishi

Hanif Kureishi in conversation with a reader.

15 Sir Charlie Stinky Socks

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks proudly showing his author’s pass.

17 Laura Hughes and Pip Jones

Laura Hughes and Pip Jones.

20 Leon Morocco

Leon Morocco.

18 Gin tent

The Edinburgh Gin Tent, just outside the main book-signing venue, is many people’s favourite place to relax and chat about Festival stuff.

21 Josie Billington & Rick Rylance

Academics Josie Billington and Rick Rylance, who were at the festival to talk about ‘Is Literature Healthy?’ and ‘Literature and the Public Good’.

22 John Banville

John Banville.

19 gimme 5

“Gimme Five!”

25 Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard.

26 Bookshop

The profits from the bookshops here at the Festival all go back into Festival funds.

29 Robert Muchamore

Author Robert Muchamore drew a large crowd of secondary school students to his book-signing.

23 photographer

I’m not the only person who goes around getting ‘atmosphere shots’ in Charlotte Square Gardens.

31 Doug Johnstone

An animated Doug Johnstone.

27 who are we now

“Who are we now?”

32 Alex Scheffler

Alex Scheffler.

30 Richard English

Professor Richard English, who spoke about the controversial issues raised by his new book ‘Does Terrorism Work?’

24 shadows lengthen

Late afternoon, and shadows begin to lengthen in Charlotte Square.

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The copyright of the images on this page rests with the photographers; no reproduction may be made without written permission.


Edinburgh International Book Festival

1.1I have just spent a long fortnight in and out of the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. this has become an annual thing for me, and I have a whale of a time even though I’m actually engaged in hard work. while I’m there I’m writing, tweeting, talking, taking photos, so when I get back I don’t really want to write any more. So here’s an essay in photographs rather than words, about the scenes and faces at this year’s festival.

The photos were taken on a bog-standard Nikon D50 or an iPad.

PT

2.2 Graham Swift

Graham Swift

2.4 Ian Goldin

Ian Goldin

2.1 Ali Smith

Ali Smith

1.2 a wave of beards

A wave of beards swept through Charlotte Square. I think that’s author Philip Ardagh on the right.

2.2 Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter

Chris Close’s excellent photo-portraits of visiting writers etc. were on display again this year. The exhibition was better than ever – here are just a few faces, including Alexander McCall Smith, Gavin Francis, Joan Bakewell, Wilko Johnson, Ruby Wax, and Attila the Stockbroker. Thanks for letting me use these, Chris.

4.1 Alexander McCall Smith & Gavin Francis

4.2 Joan Bakewell & Wilko Johnson

4.3 Ruby Wax & Attila the Stockbroker

And back to my own pics…

1.4 Book Shop

1.5 posing

2.10 Michael Scott

Michael Scott

2.5 Thomas Clark

Thomas Clark

2.9 Zaffar Kunial

Zaffar Kunial

1.10 relaxation

Relaxation…

1.6 photo bunch

Photo call

2.11 Jackie Kay

Scots ‘Makar’ Jackie Kay

2.13 Roy Hattersley

Roy Hattersley

1.8 staff

2.3 Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernières

2.7 Gordon Brown

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown

2.8 Richard & Daniel Susskind

Richard Susskind & Daniel Susskind. In the background is journalist Lee Randall, who chaired their event.

2.12 Carol Ann Duffy

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy

2.6 Roger Mason

Roger Mason

1.9

1.7 Cloud

Late in the day we heard that actor Gene Wilder had left our world of pure imagination, maybe to watch from this cloud.


Can you twang? Can you pick a country blues guitar?

crumb-hurt-2

If you can, head over to our client Marie Marshall’s poetry blog and see if you can put a tune to some words she came up with one night.

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ClareTalking of twanging guitars, It’s festival time here in Scotland, and Paul is out-and-about. If you spot him at The Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park, Edinburgh, or at the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square, or at Edinburgh Fringe events such as Harry Venning’s ‘Release Your Inner Cartoonist’ (the Pleasance, Venue 33) rubing shoulders with ‘Clare’ (see opposite), say hello! The twanging of guitars was what was happening at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival, which took place over the last weekend in July. It is Scotland’s biggest celebration of Americana and regularly hosts musical acts from both sides of the Atlantic. Paul was visiting on behalf of the Scottish review site ‘The Mumble’, and managed to see, and in many cases meet, some really interesting musicians, along with other  festival-goers. There were performances from the likes of Martha Fields, aka ‘Texas Martha’, Black Diamond Express, Yola Carter, Imelda May, Dean Owens, Daniel Meade & the Flying Mules, Amythyst Kiah, Andy Fairweather-Low, and many more.

2016-07-28 09 Southern Fried

One exciting pre-festival event was a press and media briefing, and premier of American Epic, a four-part documentary series which will be shown this coming winter on BBC4 in the UK and PBS in the USA. The documentary, which took ten years research, uses hitherto undiscovered archive material, and documents not only the sudden flood of recordings of blues, bluegrass, and other grassroots music, but the technology that gave rise to it – along with the reason why so much of both the archive and the technology was lost during the Depression and World War 2. Co-writer and producer Allison McGourty was interviewed after the premier, and took part in a question-and-answer session.

2016-07-28 10 Allison McGourty

Allison McGourty interviewed in Perth Concert Hall.

Paul says, “I look forward to this festival every year, and every year it seems to go from strength to strength.” Amongst the highlights for him were “… meeting and talking to Yola Carter and Martha Fields, both of whom were utterly charming… getting to know Marc Marnie, the larger-than-life photographer, who has been photographing musicians since 1977… hearing Imelda May live… eating soul food… chatting to Lloyd Reid about Hofner arch-top guitars…” Some of Paul’s memories of the weekend are captured in the photos here.

2016-07-29 02 Pete Caban

Scottish bluesman Pete Caban

2016-07-29 05 Texas Martha

Texas Martha and the House of Twang

2016-07-29 17 Soul food

Some of the soul food on offer.

2016-07-30 01a Black Diamond Express#

Black Diamond Express.

2016-07-30 15 Yola Carter*

Yola Carter.

2016-07-30 21 Imelda May*

Imelda May.

2016-07-31 01 Yola Carter

It’s Yola’s birthday!

2016-07-31 15 Daniel Meade*

Daniel Meade & the Flying Mules.

2016-07-31 17 Daniel Meade (h)

The Flying Mules’ amazing guitarist, Lloyd Reid.

Images © Paul Thompson / Bookseeker Agency


Stanza 2016

StAnza header

Here are some visual memories of this year’s StAnza at St Andrews. As always, the main venues for this exciting poetry festival were the Byre Theatre and the Town Hall, each place having rooms enough for simultaneous presentations, readings, performances, and exhibitions.

2

Will Philip

I got the chance to meet and chat with several interesting people and to catch some of the excellent poetry sessions. I had a long chat with Scottish poet Will Philip, in which we explored everything from the concept of art, through the poetry as communication, to theology. My good friend and colleague Damo Bullen was there, and we had a chinwag – when he wasn’t checking the Burnley v. Blackburn score on his smartphone – and caught the performance by Jemima Foxtrot together.

Helena Nelson and I, along with another visitor to the HappenStance stall at the Poetry Market, had a long discussion about lip-reading as part of the reception/interpretation of spoken performances. Helena gave me a copy of her book How (Not) To Get Your Poetry Published – thank you Helena, that’ll come in very handy – and told me I should style myself a ‘literary secret agent’ because it sounded much more glamorous.

3

Helena Nelson

Yes, literary secret agent, I like that.

On top of that there were pieces of cake served on poem-bearing serviettes at the Poetry Market, macaroni pies and Schiehallion ale at the Studio Theatre, and blissful scones at the café in the Byre. StAnza is still in full swing as I write this, but alas my own visits are over until next year…

… when maybe the literary secret agent may even step into an open mic event. You never know.

Paul

 

4

Kirsten Luckins

5

Valerie Laws

 

6

Aase Berg

9

The Poetry Market

7

Jemima Foxtrot


Pitlochry, as the dread hour approaches…

theatre

Brightly lit though Pitlochry Festival Theatre might be at night, buzz though festival-goers might around such visiting celebrities as Ronnie Browne, Gregor Fisher, and Charlotte Green, there comes a time when a hush falls over the handful of brave ones who stay behind for the storytellers’ lock-in. Collars are turned up at the suggestion of icy fingers at the neck, and there are anxious glances over the shoulder at the hint of a presence walking through the River Room. Attention is then fixed on the storytellers – actors Dougal Lee and Helen Logan – as though to draw comfort from them. But there is no comfort there. They have us under their spell!

article2This is how it is at every ‘Fearie Tales’ event during Winter Words. Eight chilling tales are read to us in four late-evening sessions. The stories themselves are selected from submissions by contemporary writers from Scotland and beyond. On Friday 12th of February I was there myself. I spoke above of a lock-in, and indeed one of the stories told to us was set at a remote inn after drinking hours, where a stranger told the small company of the nightmares that had beset him since he was a child, as we feared for his mortal safety. The scene in the cold morning light, however, was a plot twist that stunned…

To an extent you never know what to expect at ‘Fearie Tales’. I was there in anticipation of hearing client Marie Marshall’s ‘The Ice House’ – was that you, Marie, lurking by the door of the River Room, flitting away when the applause came? Really you are too shy.

article1‘The Ice House’ was read by Helen, who put layers of character into her reading. The story itself was a tribute to M R James, arguably the greatest writer of ghost stories in the English language. James himself makes an appearance in the story, as an avuncular mentor to the narrator – a young, female, law student at the time of the action – and provides, though he doesn’t realise, the denouement in the form of a letter. The story takes us, via a discussion about humankind’s deepest terrors, a sense of dread in a lonely place, and the delirium of a fever, to the revelation of a brutal crime. The construction of the story is very Jamesian – a typical Marie Marshall emulation – and the sense of period and place is perfect. I do hope there will be some way in which this story can be read more widely, whether Marie places it on her web site, where she does showcase a handful of her stories, or in a collection.

I shall be back in the River Room at Pitlochry on Saturday 20th, when another client’s story is due to be performed. This time it will be by Lucy P Naylor, the Queen of Quirk, and the action will range from a Dundee ‘pletty’ to the city’s ancient Howff graveyard.

The canny short-story-writer knows to pen and submit something written with Dougal’s or Helen’s voice in their ear, to structure their story to suit reading aloud, and to consider each actor’s strength in characterisation. Nothing facile gets through the selection process at Winter Words, and you know that by the time each ‘Fearie Tales’ session comes, that you will hear what is probably la crème de la crème of the Macabre. The festival as a whole is worth a winter break here in the Scottish Highlands.