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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bologna on the horizon

It’s a beautiful day here in lovely Virginia and the sun is pouring through the white plantation shutters of the Greenhouse.  The floor is occupied not only by piles of papers and manuscripts, plus accoutrements of my smart new Blackberry, but also by the resident Greenhouse dog - an elderly, snoring Golden Retriever named Hogan, comatose under my desk. But it’s also a scene of great activity! Apart from the fact that I’m reading the most dazzling manuscript (just revised by one of my wonderful debut authors), which is making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with excitement, I’m also in full throttle booking appointments for the upcoming Bologna book fair.  For those of you who don’t know, Bologna is not only a gorgeous, ancient Italian town - it’s also the scene of the annual international children’s book fair where all the children’s publishers of the world gather to network, do business, exchange tips on what’s hot and what’s not - and eat some glorious dinners.  For me, this Bologna will be one of the most exciting ever - my first time as an agent, and the first Bologna outing for the Greenhouse.  In three days of meetings - roughly every half-hour from 9am - 5pm (or later) I shall be seeing American and British publishers, film scouts and other industry movers and shakers.  It’s a glorious opportunity to talk about my authors and what excites me about their work.  Then it’s out for dinner and it all starts again, laced with some great food and wine, until one staggers ‘home’ somewhat late, all ready to be up bright (well, maybe not) and early for next day’s appointments. This is what makes children’s publishing so fantastic - friends and colleagues all over the world, all with a common passion for good writing, all looking for the very best books for their particular market.
So the schedule’s starting to fill up and my thoughts are turning to Italy . . . Roll on, March 30!  (Oh, and if you’d like to meet up with me in Bologna, do drop me a line!)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hello from the Greenhouse!

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Hi there! Welcome to the brand-new site of the Greenhouse - and to my blog. On the site’s pages you can read all about the agency and what we’re aiming to do over the coming months and years. By being in on it from the start, you can follow what has been and still is a truly epic personal and professional adventure. Am I exaggerating?  Well, let me tell you that when you decide to dive out of your comfort zone (in my case, a 13-year-stint with a major and very successful London publishing house, an apartment, my family and friends) and into a brave new world (marriage to an American, living in Virginia, and setting up a brand-new British and American literary agency) you will find yourself challenged in most areas of your heart and mind. It’s like sailing up the James River looking for a place to land, or heading West in a wagon train - you don’t know what lies ahead but it sure is exciting. For me, the Greenhouse is about everything I’ve achieved and assimilated over my entire career - how to work with authors, what constitutes a great book, what publishers are looking for - and how to walk time and time again into roomfuls of people you’ve never met before and convince them you have something to offer (other than a funny English accent).

I’m looking forward to making the journey with my authors (not least, the three who are already my co-pioneers), with all the fabulous publishers I know in New York and London - and with you, my blog-friends.

I guess you should know what I’m reading:  Just finished Sherman Alexie’s terrific ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN (editor - the lovely Jennifer Hunt at Little Brown) and Patricia Cornwell’s BOOK OF THE DEAD (I’ve been a huge Scarpetta fan for years; but what on earth will happen to Marino? OK, he’s an idiot but we still love him . . .) - not a vintage one. Just started on OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson - beautiful lyrical writing. Let me know what you’re reading and enjoying?

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