Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen, 2017
I’ve been a secondary-school English teacher, bookseller, theatre usher and fish-and-chip server (not in that order) but finding and shaping stories is where I’ve settled and what I love.
I spent nine years commissioning and editing books for young people at a few of the major houses, and was most recently global publishing director for the Roald Dahl Story Company. I quickly realised that I’m much more interested in helping people tell new stories, so am now actively growing a list of writers in fiction and non-fiction, with a particular focus on children’s and YA.
I have a tendency towards both the darkly funny and the formally inventive – Shirley Jackson, Ottessa Moshfegh, Akwaeke Emezi, Angela Carter, Toni Morrison and Ocean Vuong are great examples of the kinds of adult writers I love. Tove Jansson, Benjamin Zephaniah, David Almond and Jason Reynolds are just some of my heroes in children’s.
Other books I’ve enjoyed recently are Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, Earthlings by Sayaka Murata and Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez. In YA, I loved Dean Atta’s Black Flamingo and Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X. I’ll never stop raving about Sharna Jackson’s High-Rise Mystery series for middle grade readers.
In all cases I want compelling voices, unpatronizing writing and vivid, complex characters. International settings and traditions, unconventional narratives, and progressive and/or radical social commentary will always get my attention. I’m particularly interested in writers from underrepresented backgrounds, especially if those stories are genre fiction, lifestyle or comic non-fiction, for both adults and children.
At the moment, I’m very much on the look-out for funny, commercial and high-concept middle-grade series. I’d love to see strong hooks and rich world-building, often with both humour and darkness.
I’m also looking for bold, voice-driven and emotionally engaging non-fiction across both adults’ and children’s.
Please note that I don’t currently represent picture books, except for existing clients, and take a very limited number of poetry collections.
Rachel’s submissions are currently closed.