Literary Agent

Hayley Steed

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What I'm Looking For

Commercial and book-club fiction across all genres including suspense and mystery; character-driven thrillers; upmarket women’s fiction; general character-led fiction; captivating love stories; high concept novels; emotional epics; complex characters and cross-genre books.

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What I'm Looking For

I’m looking for commercial and book-club fiction across all genres. I’m particularly drawn to a strong hook – a setting, scenario or a ‘what if’ that captures my attention immediately and leads the way into a gripping story. I love to find compelling and distinctive voices that draw me in but are matched with well-paced plots and commercial appeal.

The thrillers I’ve enjoyed most recently are The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, Girl A by Abigail Dean and The Push by Ashley Audrainbut I love anything that explores the dark and creepy, be that a tense relationship between a couple, siblings, or friends, or a locked-room mystery in a brilliant setting. I’m particularly drawn to complex female friendships – if you’ve written a novel like Yellowjackets, I absolutely want to see it. I’d also love to find a novel that keeps me on my toes and changes the way we expect stories to work like Janice Hallett’s The Appeal, or a light-hearted, female-led crime mystery in the vein of How To Kill Your Family and The Maid.  I’m also searching for an entertaining heist adventure as fun as it is smart. If you’ve written a book version of The Lost City or Miss Congeniality, I’m dying to read it. I’m open to horror – my ideal find would be a social commentary horror like Get Out – and I have a morbid obsession with any novel centered around a cult or similar.

I like stories with a dark edge and an unexpected twist, which may come in forms other than thrillers but always have an atmospheric tension. I love anything that feels unpredictable, or stories in any genre with intrigue that keep me turning the page. I’d love to find something ground-breaking with a new approach, either through the character or the plot, like Rosemary Hennigan’s The Truth Will Out or The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris.

In general and women’s fiction, I’m looking for something incredibly romantic that completely sweeps me up like The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary or anything by David Nicholls. I’d love to champion more writers of colour writing in this space, particularly on the commercial end. I love anything that feels epic too – something like The English Patient would be a dream-find – where a love story takes place against an interesting and original backdrop. I’m open to historical novels, but as a setting to a narrative that’s woven in rather than feeling like the focus, or that blends history with another genre, like Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall or The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey. I’m also interested in stories that explore family in all its forms, whether that’s family secrets, emotional women’s fiction or the family we make around us in our friends and communities. I’d love to find another book like The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley that captures that spirit, alongside a brilliant narrative.

I’m generally very interested in anything that reflects, examines, or satirizes the world we’re living in, that addresses wider culture within a genre and isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. This might appear as women’s fiction, thriller, dystopia, or a general fiction novel with a brilliant lead character. I love The List by Yomi Adegoke for that reason, which holds up a mirror to some very difficult but universal topics which we’re experiencing right now, and Henry Fry’s First Time for Everything which is both great fun yet heart-wrenching. I love novels with complex characters and nuance, which are happy to explore the grey areas.

Across all genres, I am particularly interested in female voices and showcasing underrepresented talent and experiences: writers of colour, LGBTQ+, class and disability whose voice is not being heard in the mainstream.

Some favourites

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

Station Eleven by Emily St. Mandel

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

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