Orion hires HQ's Mursell and Blake Friedmann agent Witcomb

Orion hires HQ's Mursell and Blake Friedmann agent Witcomb

Orion has hired HQ’s Charlotte Mursell as editorial director, with Blake Friedmann agent Tom Witcomb joining in a commissioning editor role.

Mursell, named a Bookseller Rising Star this year, is currently senior commissioning editor at HQ where she has launched titles including Vox by Christina Dalcher, The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo, and Kindle hit The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts. She also acquired non-fiction projects like Emma Barnett’s acclaimed Period and Girl by Kenya Hunt.

Joining Orion on 6th January, she will be tasked with acquiring the best women’s, bookclub and upmarket general fiction, leading the imprint’s publishing strategy in those areas and working alongside publisher Harriet Bourton on some authors. She will also have scope to make non-fiction acquisitions.

Mursell said: “I’m hugely proud to have been a part of HQ during its launch, publishing fantastic books amongst wonderful colleagues. I’ve loved my time at HarperCollins but I couldn’t be more excited to join the brilliant, innovative and energetic team at Orion Fiction in the new year. I’m so looking forward to bringing fresh talent to Orion’s exceptional list and to contribute to its future growth as an imprint – I can’t wait to get started.”

Witcomb has worked at Blake Friedmann for 10 years, building a list of genre fiction, crime, thriller and upmarket novels with clients including Paul Finch, Michael Wood, Alan Parks and Will Carver. He was also involved in managing the Carole Blake Open Doors programme, designed to champion diversity in publishing.

At Orion, Witcomb will work with publishing director Francesca Pathak and publisher Emad Akhtar to broaden the imprint’s crime and thriller list, also acquiring across genre fiction and historical fiction.

Witcomb, who arrives on 2nd January, said: “It's strange to be leaving Blake Friedmann a decade after what was supposed to be a three-week internship but I think that speaks volumes about the kind of place it has been to work. I'm sad to be leaving behind a list of clients I am intensely proud of, but rest easier knowing that they're being looked after by a great bunch of humans. But, of course, I'm also incredibly excited to be joining the team at Orion. They are a force to be reckoned with, and I admire the way they work as a cohesive unit - it's that sense of collaboration that really inspires me, as well as their dynamism and passion. It seems a match made in heaven and I'm hoping to bring more fresh energy and bold ideas to the table.”

Alongside the two new hires, Olivia Barber is being promoted to assistant editor and will start developing her own list.

Bourton said: “We are so thrilled to welcome Tom and Charlotte to Orion, who both exhibit the passion, creativity and strategic thinking that defines the ethos of our publishing, and to promote Olivia who has shown she is a skilful, inventive editor. We are excited to further strengthen Orion Fiction’s already stellar list, with the team ambitious about bringing in quality authors with the potential for true longevity, whilst continuing to achieve new successes for our existing stable of bestselling talent. I can’t wait to see the innovative, ambitious commercial successes that Tom and Charlotte will deliver over the coming years.’”