Guest Speakers by Skype

Martha Ashby

Martha Ashby is editor of commercial women’s fiction at HarperCollins, and has worked in publishing for nearly a decade. She works with big brand authors including Cecelia Ahern, Mhairi McFarlane and Lindsey Kelk, as well as emerging talents such as Amanda Brooke and Beatriz Williams. She looks for originality of voice, above all, when looking for new talent, and is particularly keen on smart, modern love stories and psychological suspense. Martha is our special In-house guest from September 10-16, for our Nurture and Replenish Retreat. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our writers to chat informally with one of the UK’s most influential publishers.  

Deborah Grosvenor

Deborah-GrosvenorDeborah Grosvenor, of Grosvenor Literary Agency, USA, has enormous respect for her writers and the work they present to her. Her goals include nurturing her writers and placing their work in the right hands, as in, the right publishing house. Deborah’s main focus for her attendees will be about how to present the best possible manuscripts to agents. According to Deborah emerging writers come up with great plots. They have amazing imaginations, vision and storytelling abilities. Deborah’s talk will discuss how to inject realism and empathy into our characters. After more than twenty-five years in the book publishing business as an agent and editor, Deborah’s main emphasis is on nurturing our protagonists, with character building and development.

Julia Churchill

julia-churchillJulia Churchill joined A.M. Heath Literary Agency, London, UK in 2013 as Children’s Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children’s book side of the list. She represents some fabulous writers, but is always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent and considers the slushpile to be the greatest place on earth. She’s looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction.

Kimberly Young

Kimberley-YoungKimberley Young, Publishing Director of Harper Impulse, HarperCollins, is incredibly energetic in her approach to new writers. Actively looking for writers to contribute to Impulse, Kim will talk to The Art of Writing attendees about how NOW is the best time to be a writer. With the growth of digital imprints, publishing houses are looking for work dedicated to and for their e-book lists. Kimberley Young will walk us through the commercial and creative opportunities for new, emerging and established writers.

Leah Thaxton


An extremely approachable publisher, keen to discuss all aspects of the business, Leah Thaxton works for Faber and Faber in London. Leah cares for the children’s book list and is also on the main board of Faber. Because of her vast experience in the publishing world, Leah is happy to walk our writers through what to look for in their contracts. Faber has a rich heritage of classic and contemporary writers and writing. Leah is happy to be led by questions from our attendees about Faber’s vision for the future and what it means to writers today.

Allison Hunter

ALLISON HUNTER INKWELLAllison Hunter loves food and words. A literary agent with InkWell Management in Manhattan since 2010, Allison is actively acquiring literary and commercial fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, cultural studies and prescriptive titles, including cookbooks.  Her writers and clients include journalists, memoirists and essayists, novelists and several chefs and food writers, including Chicago Tribune food columnist Leah Eskin (SLICES OF LIFE, Running Press 2014); journalist Ina Yalof (FOOD AND THE CITY, Putnam 2015); wine/spirits editor Talia Baiocchi (SHERRY, Ten Speed Press 2014); food writer/chef Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune, New York, NY, BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER, Random House 2011 and PRUNE COOKBOOK, Random House 2014), and chefs Gabriel Rucker and Andrew Fortgang among many, many others.

James Wills

James looks after a dynamic and wide-ranging list of writers. He has a BA in English and Italian and an MA in 20th Century Literature from the University of Leeds and is passionate about reading and good writing. He is hugely enthusiastic about his authors’ work and is always searching for new, exciting material. He is looking for striking, quirky, character-driven, commercial and literary fiction that is thrilling, bold and beautifully written. His interests range from the decidedly off-beat to the unashamedly popular side of popular culture but he is always looking for writers with an edge who are experts in their fields. At present, he would particularly love to see strong, narrative non-fiction, including history, sport, science, popular music, comedy and website/blog-based material.

James was Secretary of the Association of Authors’ Agents from 2009-2011.

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