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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.


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Tuesday 7 July 2009
The other day, a writer told me she’d never bothered with an agent, felt that she didn’t need one, what was the point of them and she would resent shelling out the commission. She’s bonkers, and I told her so. I’d be lost without mine. We were staying on the Isle of Mull. The hotel was grim, the other guests were so old they looked like the walking dead. Crutches and zimmer frames littered the place. ‘If one of this lot collapses, I’m not giving them the kiss of life,’ I said as I watched them sucking their soup through their green teeth. At this point the dining room door swung open and in strode a woman of such presence even the soup suckers stopped. Her hair was an artless tangle that only a good hairdresser accomplishes. Her black clothes were of a simplicity which shrieked expense. She had the arrogance of the truly beautiful which is instantly forgivable. And then this dark, infectious, joyous, smoke sodden laugh evolved and I knew, immediately, I would love her. And so I met my agent. Not that I wanted nor needed one. She thought otherwise. “When you write a book you will send it to me first, won’t you?” she said to my great amusement, as I explained that I would not be writing a book, didn’t want to, or knew how. “I think you will . . . one day.” That pause was perfect, showing the actress still within her, the actress she had wanted to be. Eighteen months later, financial problems mounting, I wrote a novel. And who to send it to? A pointless question there was only one person. Within twenty-four hours she was my agent. That was the fairy tale start to a career which was dusted with magic. Literary agents don’t happen that way. Literary agents are elusive creatures. Writers spend years trying to find one – and there was me, the accidental writer, with it all happening so easily. If it hadn’t been for her I’d have given up. She believed in me, you see. In four years I paid her the princely sum of £5 in commission for an article that never saw the light of day. She cajoled me, comforted me, taught me to get tough as the rejections poured in. And then one day the magic returned and a publisher wanted my book. Twenty seven years later with twenty three published novels we are still togehter. I feel sorry for that writer friend who didn’t see the point of an agent. It must be hard to do it on your own. She negotiates for me, gets angry for me, leant me money when I was skint. She’s dried my tears and got drunk with me. My career in the doldrums it is she who keeps me afloat. That writer didn’t know what the hell she was talking about!


  1. With you 100% on this. After a false start with another agent now with a lovely, brilliant one. Right now the fiver for an unpublished article sounds familiar but have high hopes :)

  2. Your agent sounds fabulous, as well as a great agent. I'm glad she encouraged you.

  3. I bet I know who that was! Ambivalent about it all at the moment after a false start (like Kate) will try again. Lucky enough to still have a contract, but need help to find festivals and peripheral stuff to spread the word. xxx