Catherine Cho: What I'm looking for

My list is mostly fiction; I am looking for reading book group fiction, high concept novels, page-turners, and literary fiction. I am particularly looking to work with debut writers. For me, it’s not about genre, it’s about the story, I want to find a novel that I can’t stop reading, the kind of book you immediately want to tell people about. I’m looking for a story that will transport me, a story that makes an emotional connection. I suppose I’m looking for a word spell.

I am looking for character-driven novels – an unforgettable character with a distinctive voice. I loved Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility, A History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

I am fascinated by novels about families and relationships. I adored Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half and Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. I would love to find a novel that follows multiple generations or a family drama set in a multi-cultural place like Hong Kong. I am always drawn in by a compelling voice, like If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha.

I do love novels that weave in strands of history or have a ‘high-concept’ link, such as A History of Love by Nicole Krauss and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is a dream novel for me.

I read everything by Elizabeth Strout, Anne Tyler, Chimamanda Adichie, and Ann Patchett. I admire the precision in their language, the way they’re able to capture such depth in their characters. I loved Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. Katherine Heiny is a favorite author of mine, I laugh out loud when I read her novels, I thought Early Morning Riser was perfect. My favorite re-read is Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, I love all of her books, she is incredible. I loved Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, it was so disarmingly funny, and so powerful in its exploration of mental illness. Other authors I admire include David Nicholls, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Maggie O’Farrell, and Celeste Ng.

I love reading high concept novels like Sea of Tranquility and Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. There’s something about being transported by a story, and I love that feeling of disappearing into someone else’s world. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is another favourite – love stories are so powerful, and themes I enjoy are concepts of time and loss. Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow shattered me, and I loved The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. I admire Claire North and Susanna Clarke (Piranesi and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell are two of my favorite novels), I adored Babel by RF Kuang. I do enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, but for my list, I’m looking for the ‘human element’, something that is character-led like Pierce Brown’s Red Rising or Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary. 

Some of my favourite novels are speculative fiction – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Oryx and Crake and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I am fascinated by mythology and magical realism, and I loved Madeline Miller’s Circe and The Song of Achilles. Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for Time Being is a book I’ll never forget.

I am also looking for some suspense and thriller, but for me, I would be looking for something that is character-led, has an unusual structure, or a distinctive place. I admire Liane Moriarty, Gillian Flynn, and Harriet Lane.

I am looking to take on some Young Adult fiction, in the crossover space and mostly fantasy – like Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas. I was a huge fan of Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley growing up, those are books that I will always remember.

In non-fiction, I am looking for narrative non-fiction. I’m fascinated by topics of science, history, psychology – issues that are challenging the world today. There’s something wonderful about learning about a different perspective to the world, and I’m looking for people who are great communicators, experts who can share their knowledge or inspire. I love listening to podcasts and learning about entrepreneurship and forgotten stories of history. My favourite writers in this space are Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Carlo Rovelli, and Yuval Harari.

I am looking to take on a select number of memoirs – personal stories that have a universality. Joan Didion is one of my favourite writers. I admire Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Lisa Taddeo. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi stunned me. I recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott to every writer, and I read everything Leslie Jamison writes.

Katie Greenstreet: What I'm looking for

I’m building a list of quality commercial and upmarket/book club fiction, with a select number of memoirs and non-fiction projects also in the mix.

Psychological suspense is my first love as both an agent and a reader, and I am desperate for a locked room mystery a la Lucy Foley or The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, with bonus points for glamorous or escapist settings. I also love a wicked protagonist you can’t help but root for, as in The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton, White Ivy by Susie Yang, andYou by Caroline Kepnes. On the lighter side of crime, I adored The Maid by Nita Prose and would love to find something with a cosy element that offers a fresh take on the genre.

I’m keen to sign more literary suspense as well, and some recent favourites in this space include Girl A by Abigail Dean, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews, Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin, and the forthcoming Deep Water by Emma Bamford.

I am also on the hunt for sweeping, weepy love stories – whether truly high concept like In Five Years by Rebecca Searle and The Time Traveller’s Wife, or somewhat more grounded like early Taylor Jenkins Reid. I would also love fresh takes on romance and romantic comedy in the same vein as the Crazy Rich Asians series and Emily Henry’s Beach Read, or a clever retelling of a classic story as in Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible.

Please also send me your lighthearted family novels – think Emma Straub, Katherine Heiny, or The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.

I’m also keen for historical fiction that brings a previously unheard perspective to the table, especially that which focuses on character and relationships and wears its research lightly. I’m a forever fan of all that Paula McClain writes, and would love to see novels that shine a spotlight on women overshadowed by larger than life partners, like The Paris Wife, Love and Ruin, or Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

On the non-fiction side, my focus is on memoir that pulls back the curtain on a world previously unknown to me, or that sends me somewhere new on a journey alongside the author. If you’ve written a Kitchen Confidential for your industry/passion/hobby, I would love to read it. Some other favourites include Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah.

As an American in London, I am always open to reading stories that take me ‘home.’ I’m partial to Southern settings, campus novels, and will drop everything to read a classic New York story. I’m still looking for the millennial answer to Jay McInerney.

*Please note that while I try not to be precious about genre, I am not the right agent for YA, children’s, or SFF submissions.