Founder, director & literary agent

Madeleine Milburn

What I'm Looking For

Character-driven, propulsive storytelling. Fast-paced but emotionally grounded thrillers and mysteries. Ambitious narratives that take us to the darker edges of human nature, and raise the big moral questions. Thought-provoking, uplifting and emotionally immersive fiction that explores how we connect and love as partners, families and communities. Bold and innovative storytelling that plays with form, voice, perspective, or takes a classic genre – from crime to romcom – and subverts or refreshes it. Strong and original voices, quirky narratives, a surprising perspective that shines a different light.


I’m the Director of Madeleine Milburn Ltd and an Agent. I’m always on the lookout for new writers. Whether literary or upmarket commercial fiction, or narrative memoir, this is a voice-driven list. When I read a new submission I’m looking for a clarity of concept, a gripping and unforgettable voice and a compelling protagonist. I know I have a special book on my hands the moment I start reading. A narrator who pulls me in and doesn’t let go. Who leaves me a little bereft at the end, staying with me long after I’ve finished.

I’d love my list to be a home for more under-represented voices: to empower and celebrate writers of colour, disability, LGBTQ and from working class backgrounds. I want to represent brilliant writers and champion their stories, exploring diverse experiences, celebrating unique voices. To hit that sweet-spot where a distinctive point of view offers a completely new or fresh perspective, while also demanding empathy and connection.

The future feels more uncertain than ever – we’re all looking for ways to overcome or at least handle that uncertainty. Thrillers feel like a great space within which to explore our deepest fears and our resilience. Mental wellbeing is on everyone’s minds. I’d be interested in stories that subvert structure and point of view to explore mental health, or crisis, whether that’s fuelling a thriller, exploring the sadness, or finding hope and light. I’m looking for stories that explore connection, togetherness and how to find hope in difficult times. This could be escapist pleasure or a more probing, uncomfortable attempt to understand ourselves more deeply. What does an epic love-story or romcom look like post #MeToo? How do we reframe those narratives? I’d be excited to read manuscripts that play with form and different ways of storytelling, that reflect the endless evolution in the ways in which we are all connecting, absorbing culture, living our lives.

Ten of my favourite contemporary novels (excluding my authors!)

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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