Bookseeker Literary Agency

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News in the New Year

Time for some news. This time of year is very often the doldrums for literary agency work and publishing in general, so it’s good to have snippets coming in.

Our client Marie Marshall always has several irons in the fire. Mainly she’s a poet and a poetry editor. Every four months she produces an e-zine called the zen space, which features haiku and other short forms of poetry. The Winter 2018 Showcase there has just been published, and is full of wordsmithery from all over the world.

The artwork for this particular Showcase has been provided by Canadian artist Millie Ho. You will remember that Millie did the cover artwork for Marie’s novels The Everywhen Angels and From My Cold Undead Hand. A click on the image below – a detail from one of Millie’s illustrations – will take you to the latest Showcase at the zen space.
Bunnyman

The previous update here gave news of the short movie Lose Like A Human, created by Luka Vukos and Fergus Doyle. Borrowfox – an innovative rental platform, stocked with state-of-the-art camera and film equipment from leading rental companies and private users, from which borrowers can use the best equipment for the lowest prices, while lenders can make money from unused kit – interviewed Luka and Fergus for their blog. The interview makes interesting reading, taking these two creators through the stages of making a movie on a shoestring. Click here to read it.

Borrowfox pic 2

Luka Vukos (right) on the set.

Our client Carmen Capuano is racking up five star reviews from readers for her novel Split Decision. Here’s one of the most recent:

Split Decision, essentially a coming-of-age novel, is both brilliant and brutal – brilliant in its execution and brutal in the sensitive subject matter it explores. The decision Natalie makes impacts on many and she is not the same person at the end of the story as she is at the beginning… It is the second book that I have read by the author Carmen Capuano, the first being Ascension, a dystopian thriller. Although the subject matter is completerly different, I found the story just as engaging and thought- provoking.

The plot begins in a shoe shop where best friends, teenagers Natalie and Stacey are shopping. The new pair of shoes which Natalie purchases – in a style which is way out of character for the sensible teenager, can be viewed as a metaphor for both her step into adulthood and what subsequently occurs. Natalie is soon called upon to make a split second choice and her decision heralds a chain of unexpected and shocking events.

The author does an excellent job of depicting the trials and tribulations of the teenage years and how they effect existing and new relationships: a time of burgeoning sexuality, when we strive to forge our own identity, sometimes putting us in conflict with our families who find it difficult to come to terms with their offspring entering adulthood. The balance between protecting their children whilst allowing them the freedom to grow is often a difficult one and I felt that the author touched on this in a sensitive fashion. I certainly identified with Stacey and Natalie from memories of my own teenage years and recognised how easily events could take the path they did.

The characters, the young people and the adults, were all very believable and the author is to be congratulated on using the events to illustrate their personal growth and changing family dynamics. The plot is cleverly and expertly written and certainly had me guessing and questioning my own preconceptions and prejudices. All in all a super read…

 Split

A belated Happy New Year to everyone – writers, readers, publishers, film-makers, colleagues, and friends – from Bookseeker Literary Agency.


‘The Solar Wind IV’ finds a place in the heart.

solar-wind-ivReviewer Colleen Chesebro recently had the following to say about the fourth in the Solar Wind series by Lyz Russo:

Volume Four brings the pirate assassin, Federi, and his wife, the lovely genetic engineer/musician, Paean, back together at long last. When these two are apart, the Solar Wind never rides smooth on the waves beneath its bow. Something is off, though, and Federi’s gypsy intuition is pushed into overdrive to figure out what is wrong.

Suddenly, a new threat surfaces when Dana, an alien from the planet New Dome, arrives aboard the ship with an agenda all her own. The hauntingly beautiful Dana disrupts the newfound relationship between the Captain and Perdita when it is revealed that she is Rushka’s mother. Perdita is stunned and watches, filled with fury, as the Captain succumbs once again to Dana’s evil charms. Meanwhile, Rushka, pregnant with her first child remembers the cruelty she suffered at the hands of her alien mother when she was a young child.

And, if that wasn’t enough drama, mutant creatures are menacing the crew, threatening their very lives. The beings can’t be destroyed, and they regenerate themselves from a single living cell. They multiply into the thousands with only one thing on their mind – to kill. When one of the creatures attacks Federi, the team battles for his and their lives looking for solutions to save the world from certain destruction.

lyz-russo

Lyz Russo

Perdita is the key to protecting humankind from Dana’s malevolence. If they can save Federi, there is still hope…

I have been reading the Solar Wind Series for some time now, and I must say, I enjoyed Book IV, Raider, the best! The characters have long ago found a place in my heart. Once again, it is the relationship between Paean and Federi that steer the crew into new adventures. The addition of space travel and the ability to beam to any location in an instant added another layer of mystique to the plot.

Lyz Russo has created a science fiction series that continues to entertain and invite the reader into the world of the Solar Wind, and its crew. This futuristic pirate fantasy is one of my favorites!

Read more about Solar Wind IV here.


“Snappy dialogue and excellent writing – worth trying!”

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A recent reader’s opinion of Carmen Capuano’s Split Decision:

Snappy dialogue and excellent writing – worth trying! Looking at this because I like Carmen’s The Owners series. Not sure whether it’ll appeal to male readers as much as female but she can write and her dialogue is spot on – she makes her conversations sound real…


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.

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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

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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.


Attention screenwriters!

You may recall that in January 2015 we called for a screenwriter to help turn the short story ‘Axe’, by our client Marie Marshall into a drama for TV, or even a movie script. The story, told in a mix of Glasgow and Caribbean-British registers, follows a girl who has just moved from London to Glasgow, and who joins a ‘girl-gang’. The story sees everything through her eyes, and is strung together in a kind of stream-of-consciousness narration.

Following that appeal, a screenwriter was found. He and Marie have been collaborating on developing the script – he preparing the actual script, she providing extra narrative material – and between them they have fleshed out the protagonist and the supporting characters. The story that, hopefully, will eventually appear on screen somewhere, has grown well beyond the original short story, and is becoming a gripping drama with strong female characters.

girlgang

image: Mercury Press Agency Ltd.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen personal circumstances, the screenwriter has had to be excused from the project, and it is unlikely that he will be able to return. Along with Marie Marshall, we are exploring the way forward, and one possibility is trying to find another screenwriter to take over. That writer would have to ‘hit the ground running’, as there is a lot of pre-exisiting material to work with.

Are you that screenwriter?

The project is a speculative one, by which we mean that no payment can be guaranteed unless and until the finished script is taken up by a production company. Marie herself has waived any income, settling for the exposure of having her name credited as the originator of the story and provider of additional narrative, so royalty payments etc. would accrue to the screenwriter(s). This agency would be responsible for approaching production companies and would take its standard commission.

If this project appeals to you, please get in touch with us.


A connection with the creator of Dracula…

cmt picThe agency is now representing Scottish-based writer Constance Tonge. Constance says she has been a writer by calling from an early age, having swapped her swing for a typewriter at the age of five! The daughter of an Isle of Man TT racer, and a descendant of Bram Stoker, she is a graduate of St Andrews University. After a career specialising in dementia, she did postgraduate study at Aberdeen, and is now pursuing her Doctorate at Newcastle University where her thesis will be on Phenomenology.

Constance’s debut novel, Wisp, is set in Scotland. She says of it:

At the heart of this novel is a topical issue in that Wisp is concerned with people suffering from microcephaly – the phenomenon which has recently been connected with the Zika virus in Brazil. It is a novel which will, additionally, appeal to a core audience of readers who appreciate character-led fiction as well as those interested in the workings of modern science. Set in the ancient University of St Andrews, it features the everyday subjects of personhood, consciousness, religion, ethics, genetic engineering, afternoon tea, mushrooms, and magic.

Her second novel, Men who Play with Lightning, is currently being prepared. It is the story of a conscientious objector in World War II who joins Bomb Disposal. The agency is very excited about having this excellent writer with us.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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Kirsten Luckins

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Valerie Laws

 

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Aase Berg

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The Poetry Market

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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.


Client’s book reviewed

fmcuhHard on the heels of news of our client Marie Marshall’s success at Winter Words comes a review from an enthusiastic reader of her YA vampire novel From My Cold, Undead Hand. Here’s an extract:

“… Marshall does a fantastic job with creating an alternate world for us, where the action happens at a breakneck pace. From using technology that isn’t developed yet, to using weapons not designed yet, to using language and phrases not spoken yet, she creates a universe that is strangely familiar to us, yet it’s a place where you have to watch your back or you’ll be dead. Vampires aren’t glamorous, it isn’t romantic to meet a vampire in the alley behind the school, and they most certainly don’t sparkle. Marshall also does a remarkable job of tying in the classic vampire novel, Dracula, but makes you believe that it’s all real. This is a book that will leave you breathless for more!

You can read more about it here.