I started at Greene & Heaton as an agent in 2018, having worked at PFD from 2011 after studying Classics at Oxford. I have a broad list across different genres of fiction, alongside a smaller non-fiction and children’s book list, and I’m always looking for new and exciting projects.
I love working on literary fiction and upmarket commercial fiction, of all different kinds, and I’m always on the lookout for meditative or moving novels about modern life. I prefer warmth and heart to coldness or ennui, although I love novels with a bit of bite and sharpness to them. Recently I loved WE ALL WANT IMPOSSIBLE THINGS by Katherine Newman and SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE by Claire Keegan – both desperately sad stories, but with love and the importance of caring for each other shining through. I love stories about female friendships or conversely groups of women who don’t get on, such as the hugely fun BAD SUMMER PEOPLE by Emma Rosenblum. I am always looking for historical and period fiction, particularly early- or mid-twentieth century, which sheds light on untold stories, like the fantastic IN MEMORIAM by Alice Winn, or historical mysteries or ambitious cross-centuries narratives, like RED AT THE BONE by Jacqueline Woodson or NORTH WOODS by Daniel Mason, both brilliantly ambitious in scope and structure.
I’m also always on the lookout for a big tragic love story that will sweep me away and make me cry happy or sad tears – recently I have adored TALKING AT NIGHT by Claire Daverley, ROMANTIC COMEDY by Curtis Sittenfeld, and of course THE PAPER PALACE by Miranda Cowley Heller. At the more commercial end of fiction, I love funny novels with warmth and romantic comedies with a bit of depth – I think I’ve probably read every book by the masterful Marian Keyes.
I’m keen on darkness and a claustrophobic feel in novels, from gothic to horror to murder mysteries to ghost stories to psychological thrillers to speculative/magical realist fiction to novels that feel like true crime, or intense and emotional narratives about dark things, and I think being truly scared by a story is one of the most difficult things a writer can achieve. I love weird and wonderful stories with unexpected twists, I love witches and cults and magic and being amazed by an author’s imagination, but I also love brilliantly plotted conventional murder mysteries or procedurals, as long as there’s something fresh and exciting about it. Recent favourites with a dark bent include HOW TO KILL YOUR FAMILY by Bella Mackie, MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite, NOTES ON AN EXECUTION by Darya Kukafka, and everything by Catriona Ward and Tom Hindle.
Most of all I’m looking for novels I haven’t read before – something unusual structurally or thematically, something that shines a light on a subject the author is passionate about, something that’ll break my heart or raise my blood in an entirely new way. I don’t want protagonists in novels to hold a mirror up to my own life, I want them to show me an open door into theirs. I’m always looking to promote diverse voices from across the globe, and I’m particularly keen on LGBTQI+ stories.
Some of my other favourite novelists, the ones whose new books I’ve always got on pre-order, are Lauren Groff, Ned Beauman, Patrick deWitt, Sarah Winman, Sjon, Attica Locke, Elizabeth Strout, Megan Abbott, Leila Slimani, Rene Denfeld, Sarah Moss, and Colson Whitehead.
I also have a very small list of young adult and middle grade fiction, which I love working on. I’m looking for something that feels current and contemporary, with a real conversation at its core. I’m not currently looking for fantasy, or anything younger than middle grade.
On the non-fiction side, I love working on memoirs of extraordinary people, or narrative non-fiction about something the author feels passionately about. I’ve worked on many books about mental health, and I’m interested in untold stories across popular science, history and popular culture. I’d also really like to find a brilliant true crime book. Cookery, wellness and lifestyle would be a better fit for one of my brilliant colleagues.
You can follow me on twitter: @laurabirdland