A new agency, Laxfield Literary Associates, headed by Cassava Republic's Emma Shercliff, is opening in Suffolk and launching a debut novel prize.
The agency, which is billed as Suffolk's first, opens its doors on 1st October. It was started by Shercliff in association with Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, which will handle translation and screen rights.
Shercliff was prompted to launch the agency partly as a response to the Common People report, led by Professor Katy Shaw of Northumbria University, which highlighted the lack of literary agents outside London.
She said: “There are no other literary agencies in Suffolk or Norfolk, despite the fact that Norwich is a UNESCO City of Literature and home to the National Centre for Writing and the prestigious creative writing MA course at the UEA. Both counties are full of great writers, from Anthony Horowitz to Melissa Harrison.
“Accessing an agent can be a huge challenge for an author. This challenge is exacerbated if one lives outside the UK, or even outside London. I really want to do things differently and for Laxfield Literary to be seen as open and accessible. I’m particularly keen to work with authors from under-represented backgrounds and those with caring responsibilities that may find it difficult to create the time and space to write.”
Shercliff has over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, including most recently as sales director for Cassava Republic Press UK, where she remains a non-executive director. She has worked for publishing houses including Macmillan and Hachette in Paris, Melbourne, London and Abuja and for the British Council in Nigeria and Iran.
Isobel Dixon, m.d. of Blake Friedmann, commented: “I’ve long admired Emma’s energy and initiative and when we began talking about her agency plans, there were so many shared principles and complementary possibilities that the idea of a link clicked into place. We look forward to working on selling rights to the Laxfield Literary list in the future.”
Laxfield is also launching the the New Anglia Manuscript Prize, sponsored by the National Centre for Writing in Norwich, looking for the best new writing from Suffolk and Norfolk in the form of a debut novel from an unpublished writer.
The agency is also interested in working with authors based further afield and is on the look-out for authors of adult fiction and non-fiction of all genres.
For further information about Laxfield Literary Associates or the prize visit the agency website.