This is Sophie Gorell-Barnes, my wonderful agent from MBA. On Monday, I took the train into London just to see her and hear, face to face, her advice about the final touches to Hospital High. She’s been telling editors about it and it’s time to send it out to them.
Sophie may look sweet and lovely (and she is) but she can be tough, too. I’ve seen her in negotiations, and I’m glad she’s on my side.
We’ve had good and bad times. Giddy times of big sales (when we sold Wipe Out, we hugged each other and silently danced around in the publisher’s loo with joy) and frustrating times when nobody likes a book we’ve slaved over (her emails were even more angry about this than my own). You have to bear with each other, and get through things, you and your agent. It’s a bit like a marriage!
Some types of writers don’t really need agents. They’re the ones with the business heads, the ones who read Bookseller and Publisher’s Weekly and study publisher’s lists and network with editors. They live in London, and they’re on the canapé circuit and they know who’s who and what’s what.
I’m not that kind of a writer. I read widely in my areas, of course, and I have a feeling for what’s going on in my markets. But I need time to dream, to pretend to be a bear, to look for a long while at the colour of tree bark, to bob up and down inside a wetsuit in a cold sea. So, I walk by the river. Sophie eats the canapés and lunches and goes to the meetings. Sophie knows who’s who and what’s what.
I write the stories, but Sophie and I work together to make them into books – and then Sophie thinks about who will want to publish them…she will have been thinking about that even while we do the work of making them into books together.
I trust Sophie. And I’d find it very hard to do without her.