Catherine Cho: What I'm looking for

In fiction, I’m looking for upmarket / book group and literary fiction, particularly from debut novelists. I am looking for a story that will transport me. I suppose I’m looking for a word spell.

I am looking for character-driven novels – an unforgettable character who has made me feel like I’ve inhabited their world. Examples would be A History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Novels with a distinctive voice and a strong sense of place. I adored Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half and Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, and I would love to find a novel that follows multiple generations. I loved A History of Love by Nicole Krauss and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. My favourite authors include Chimamanda Adichie, Kate Atkinson.

I am fascinated by novels that explore families and relationships. I read everything by Elizabeth Strout, Anne Tyler and Ann Patchett. I loved Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. Other authors I admire include Katherine Heiny, David Nicholls, and Maggie O’Farrell, Celeste Ng.

I am also looking for psychological suspense, I enjoy suspense that is character led or have an unusual structure. My favourite authors in this area are Liane Moriarty, Gillian Flynn, Louise Doughty, and Harriet Lane.

I love reading high-concept novels like Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and 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. I admire Claire North and Susanna Clarke, and I am always fascinated by anything involving time travel.

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.

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, forgotten stories of history, and true crime. My favourite writers in this space are Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Yuval Harari. I recently loved reading Elinor Cleghorn’s Unwell Women.

I am also looking for 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.