Today at beautiful Swanwick I’ve been doing a day of one-to-one meetings with writers. Quite a mixed bag – both in subject matter and style. A very funny coming-of-age novel, a thriller about a stalker, a contemporary novel about an accident, a fantasy, a children’s book, a supernatural thriller, and a literary novel. It’s the agent equivalent of show-jumping or maybe dressage, and I can only hope I’ve been useful to all of them.
It’s always an interesting thing to do. First, it exercises the analytical muscles. Second, you don’t just get to test-drive the novel, you also get to lift the bonnet and look at the authorial engine underneath. Often all I’ve had to do is confirm that their creative choices are along the right lines, and to suggest tweaks for their strategy in approaching agents.
A couple of the writers have also had meetings with Alexa here, and – without wanting to colour each other’s judgement – it’s been nice to stroke our chins over the work and confer about what advice to give. What’s your diagnosis, doctor?