Booksellers, Publishers and Agents

This is a formative list – more names will follow as appearances are confirmed.


Matt Bates is the Fiction Buyer for WH Smith Travel. He has worked for the company since he was 16 as a Saturday boy on the News Department (but always to be found in the Book Department!). In 1998 he became Non Fiction Buyer for the WHS Travel business before moving to manage Fiction in 2004. He has been named as one of the 1000 most influential Londoners in the Evening Standard, and in 2006 was delighted to be a judge for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award.



Carole Blake has worked in publishing for 49 years. She started in a secretarial position and rose to become the first-ever Rights Manager for Michael Joseph. She was headhunted to start W H Allen’s first rights department, then approached to become Marketing Director of Sphere. After 14 years in publishing, she started her own literary agency which merged to become Blake Friedmann in 1983; Carole heads the book division. It was chosen as one of only twelve British agencies commended by the Society of Authors in their first survey of literary agents. Carole is a past President of the Association of Authors’ Agents, past Chairman of the Society of Bookmen, and she was Chairman of The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) for several years and is now President. She is a member of the advisory board for the post graduate publishing courses run by both City University and UCLA. Her book, From Pitch to Publication (Macmillan), is a bestseller now in its 12th UK printing. Carole’s clients include Elizabeth Chadwick, Anne de Courcy, Barbara Erskine, Ann Granger, Peter James, Beryl Matthews, Lawrence Norfolk, Joseph O’Connor, Sheila O’Flanagan, Tess Stimson, and Julian Stockwin.



Catherine Burke is Associate Publisher for fiction at Sphere, the commercial imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. Sphere publishes a number of bestselling and award-winning historical fiction authors including Elizabeth Chadwick, Susanna Gregory, Angus Donald and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Catherine is delighted to be part of the Historical Novel Society Conference and is actively looking to publish sensational new historical fiction authors on the Sphere list.



Half French, half American, Stephanie was educated in Europe and in the US where she majored in History at Harvard. Her agenting career began in London and spent nine years at the William Morris – London, the last five as Managing Director where she built a list of international bestselling and prize-winning authors. She moved back to the States in 2005, joined The Gernert Company, and is now selectively adding writers from a variety of genres, including commercial and literary fiction, latte lit, and non-fiction. She is especially interested in writers who tell original stories with strong narratives and create distinctive characters. She spends her weekends working on a family dairy farm with her husband and four children.



Jade Chandler is Commissioning Editor for Fiction at Sphere, the commercial imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. Sphere publishes a number of bestselling and award-winning historical fiction authors including Elizabeth Chadwick, Susanna Gregory, Angus Donald and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Jade is delighted to be part of the Historical Novel Society Conference and is actively looking for new historical fiction authors to add to the Sphere list, particularly those writing historical crime and thriller novels.



Shana Drehs is Editorial Manager for the Landmark (fiction) imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. She started her career at Crown/Random House, where she acquired/edited four New York Times bestsellers. At Sourcebooks, as a publisher of historical novelists as diverse as Elizabeth Chadwick, Georgette Heyer, Helen Hollick, Sarah Bower, and Amanda Grange, Shana is acquiring a broad range of historical fiction in addition to non-fiction. She’s looking for authors who are passionate about their career arcs and about writing and promoting their work, a hook that sells the book in 2-3 sentences and differentiates it from the competition, an intriguing time period the reader can escape to, a hero or heroine the reader can identify with, and a story that illuminates the past in a new and entertaining way.



Scott Eagan draws on his extensive background in education, writing and literature to assist the writers at Greyhaus Literary Agency. In 2003 he opened the agency with two goals in mind – to promote the romance and women’s fiction genres, and to see improvement of writing in general.  Located in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, the agency believes that remaining small and focused provides their writers with better assistance on the road to publishing and certainly long after that first book reaches the shelf. Scott has a BA in English/Literature, a MA in Creative Writing and a MA in Literacy. Scott is also a writer (done mostly as a hobby), is an active member of the Romance Writers of America, and continues to be active in community work including serving on the National Alumni Board for the University of Puget Sound.



Gillian Green is the Editorial Director for commercial fiction at Ebury Press, part of the Random House group. Ebury Press Fiction is a boutique fiction list which publishes around 20 titles a year across a range of genres including historical, women’s fiction, crime and thrillers and accessible literary fiction. 2012 sees a number of historical fiction debuts from Ebury, including The Midwife of Venice, by Roberta Rich, The Bone Thief, by historian V.M. Whitworth, and Mistress of the Sea, by Jenny Barden.


David Headley studied theology in London and Durham before co-founding Goldsboro Books, an independent bookseller based in central London. He has spent the last 14 years developing the company and building good relationships with the UK’s major publishing houses. He created the UK’s largest collectors’ book club and is influential in selling large quantities of hardback fiction in the UK. In 2008 David created D. H. H. Literary Agency which enables him to concentrate on discovering new talent in fiction writing. He is only looking to represent fiction writers currently. In his spare time he enjoys travelling. He likes material that is different, unconventional, and something that may challenge as well as a good commercial read.



Jane Judd was an editor with Hutchinson for 10 years before setting up her own agency in 1986. She has always had an eclectic list of non-fiction and fiction writers, from cookery, sports and film to literary and commercial fiction. Nowadays, the emphasis is on self-help, health, biography, popular history and narrative non-fiction, general and historical fiction and literary fiction. Jane regularly visits New York and the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs and has conducted one-to-ones at writers’ festivals such as York, Winchester and Frome.



Senior Editor, Heather Lazare, joined Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in 2011 after six years in publishing working at the Crown Publishing Group and prior to that, the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Heather has acquired and edited a range of historical fiction from award-winning, New York Times bestselling, and international bestselling authors including: Nancy Bilyeau, Kimberley Freeman, Julia Gregson, Karleen Koen, Michelle Moran, and Anne Easter Smith. Heather has also reissued many novels from the grande dame of historical fiction, Jean Plaidy. She loves to read about little-known historical women and while she does adore tales of the English royalty, she is particularly interested in stories set in the Middle East, China, Russia, Italy, and France, where she spent two years teaching English in Aix-en-Provence.



A love of the ancient world from an early age led to Laura reading Classics at university. She now works in the Fiction Editorial department at Hodder & Stoughton which has long been the home of bestselling historical fiction, from Anya Seton to Robyn Young. Laura is actively looking for high-quality historical fiction from any period.



Kate Allan is the pen name of Kate Nash who is a literary agent. She will consider historical fiction from any period and is particularly interested to see adventure fiction, military settings, historical women’s fiction and romance. She also works in publishing as a director at indie publisher Myrmidon Books, is festival director at the Writers Workshop Festival of Writing and chief romantic at the Festival of Romance. As Kate Allan she is the author of seven novels.



Jonathan Pegg established his eponymous literary agency in 2008, having previously been a senior agent at Curtis Brown. He represents literary fiction (e.g. Tom McCarthy, Mike Stocks), quality commercial fiction (e.g.Jenny Barden, Guy Saville) and narrative non-fiction (e.g. Alex Brummer, Nick Davies, Robert Lacey). Although his portfolio of clients contains many established names he also enjoys representing debut authors.



After ten years of bookselling at Waterstones, Cathy has recently become the Project Director at Galaxy Quick Reads and is excited to be finding new ways of spreading a joy in books and reading. She learnt to love historical fiction as a girl by taking Jean Plaidy books out of the library and feels on a continual mission to up the number of readers who acknowledge the sheer comic genius of Georgette Heyer. Some her favourite settings include Tudor and Stuart England and France, and she also has a fondness for time slip novels, as she is often to be found day dreaming about where she would most like to go if she could time travel. She loves enthusing about history and rather envies those people whose job it is to dress up as characters from history and talk to tourists about their lives.



Ian Skillicorn is an audio producer and digital publisher. He produces audiobooks and podcasts for writers and publishers, and audio stories for, which he founded in 2006. Among his most recent projects, Ian has produced an audiobook of stories by best-selling women’s fiction writers and a special series of programmes for broadcaster Sue Cook. In 2010, Ian founded National Short Story Week, which aims to get more people writing, reading and listening to short stories. Already a popular and established event in the literary calendar, National Short Story Week is celebrated by many hundreds of libraries and schools, as well as publishers, reading and writing organisations, and countless individual writers, readers and listeners around the UK.



Arabella Stein became a Literary Agent in 2002, when she joined Abner Stein.  Previously she was Paperback Publisher at Bloomsbury and Editorial Director at Fourth Estate and Macmillan.  As an agency, Abner Stein largely represents American and Australian authors on behalf of their principal agents and publishers and therefore the agency has been fortunate enough to represent the widest range of historical authors from Jean Plaidy to the latest Orange Prize winner Madeline Miller, Nancy Bilyeau and Gillian Bagwell.



Simon Taylor is an Editorial Director at Transworld Publishers, part of the Random House Group. Like so many others of his generation, his life-long passion for historical fiction began with the likes of Rosemary Sutcliff, Henry Treece and Geoffrey Trease, and he knows he is exceedingly lucky to be able to publish the sort of fiction he adores as a reader, namely novels by such fantastic storytellers as Giles Kristian, Steven Pressfield and James Wilde, to name but three. Not all his shirts are as garish as the one in this photograph.



Susan Watt was Publishing Director of Michael Joseph and for the last twelve years has been Publishing Director of HarperCollins. She enjoys publishing history in both fiction and non-fiction and among those she has published are Tracy Chevalier, Bernard Cornwell, Iain Gale, Amitav Ghosh, Conn Iggulden, Boris Johnson, George MacDonald Fraser, Adam Nicolson and Jeremy Paxman.




Ed Wilson has been an agent with Johnson & Alcock since 2007, and a director of the company since 2011. He looks for books with originality and style, a strong narrative voice and compelling premise. He has a diverse and developing list covering everything from established and prize-winning authors to debutants. It includes literary and commercial fiction, children’s books and YA, and the odd quirky non-fiction title. Graphic novels and poetry are not beyond the pale. Ed is especially interested in books that transcend genre, especially historical, crime and sci-fi. He’s drawn to powerful stories and imaginative settings; throughout, his list is defined by great writing in whatever form it comes. You can follow his ramblings on Twitter: @literarywhore.

One Responseso far.

  1. Helen Hawley says:

    A very interesting conference. Please notify me of follow-up comments and new posts by email. Many thanks.


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