Name: Lauren Gardner
Agency: Bell Lomax Moreton
Genres represented: Children’s fiction and non-fiction (young fiction, MG, teen and YA), and adult non-fiction.

Authors you represent and recent deals: I’m lucky enough to be able to represent both children’s fiction/non-fiction and adult non-fiction at the agency. On the children’s side of things, I’m proud to represent authors including Katy Birchall (The It Girl and Hotel Royale series), Chloe Seager (Editing Emma series), Pooja Puri (The Jungle), Alesha Dixon (Lightning Girl series), Dan Walker (The Sky Thieves and Desert Thieves series) and James Tyler (O is for Old School).

Recent deals include a pre-emptive three book deal for Lucy Powrie’s debut YA contemporary series The Paper and Hearts Society by Hodder Children’s Books, and a third book for space journalist Sarah Cruddas with Dorling Kindersley. There are three other recent deals that I can’t talk about yet as they haven’t been formally announced, but I am very excited about them.

What’s on your wishlist #MSWL?
Soooo many things, but at the moment I’d really love to find a classic, ‘swoony’ YA or teen romance in the style of When Dimple Met Rishi or Meg Cabot’s Nicola and the Viscount. I’d also love to find a female Tom Gates and anything that can get me snorting/spitting tea with laughter – I have some wonderfully funny authors on my list and I’d love to have more.  Middle Grade is one of my favourite areas to read in, but I’d really like to see more contemporary set and high concept MG stories, and something with a supernatural or very spooky twist to it.  There’s a lot of magical fantasy in the MG space at the moment and whilst there’s always room for more, I’d just like to see something a bit different come through. As the proud human to my cocker spaniel puppy Arnie, I’d also be open to seeing some funny, heart-warming animal stories and anything with a furry, four-legged sidekick.

What is your working style with clients (e.g. how editorial are you)?
Editorial work with my authors is without a doubt one of the things I love most about agenting and I consider it to be a crucial part of my working relationship with an author. For me to be able to go out there and sell a MS to a publisher, I need to know the bones of it inside and out, hear the characters talk to me in the same way they do to my author, and have fallen in and out of love with it several times.  Usually we’ll go through two drafts and a final line edit, but it can be more or less – there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for this, it’s what works best for the MS and for the author. I’ve been called a Mini Eggs enabler by one author, a plot ninja by another, and one asked me if it would be ok in the future to track my edits in yellow because red made it look like their MS had suffered a bloody accident*…
*No manuscripts or authors were harmed during the course of this edit.

Do you choose books with head or heart?
Both in equal measure; it’s always heart that hooks me into a story first and if it can get me crying/laughing/breaking out in goose bumps, then I know this is a story I believe in and will want to fight for.  But I also have to be confident that I can sell a project, which is where my head comes into play as I ask myself the commercial questions that I know a publisher will ask and ensure I can answer them in a way that means they can’t say no to acquiring this book. 

Which book or character has stayed with you since childhood?
This is the hardest question as there are genuinely 1000s of different ways that I could answer it. It’s very closely linked to memory for me, and so I suppose that narrows it down to Dogger by Shirley Hughes which is the first book I remember being read to me. Then came Matilda which is one of the first books I remember reading on my own, after which I spent days trying to move things with my mind, just like she did. Jacqueline Wilson was and still is one of my heroes for everything she has ever written, but especially The Illustrated Mum and Girls in Love. She signed my copies when she visited our local library, along with every JW book I owned, much to the annoyance of the other kids in the queue behind me.  And finally, the incredible Louise Rennison, who so brilliantly plagiarised my teenage life in her Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging series. Georgia will forever be my favourite character of all time and I wish I knew what she was doing now – probably still wearing really big knickers, laughing like a loon on loon tablets and maybe working in publishing?

Which house would the sorting hat put you in?
I’ve been a member of the Ron Weasley fan club for a very long time, so hopefully it would take my thoughts into consideration and sort me into Gryffindor.

How to submit to you 
You can send a covering letter, first three chapters and a synopsis to

Submission tips 
Find out the name of the agent you want to submit to and address your submission to them, there’s nothing worse than receiving an email addressed to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, or ‘Laura’.  Take some time before you submit to look at my list of authors; how would you see yourself fitting amongst them, have you read any of their books and what did you think of them? Give me all the spoilers! I love to read a mysterious and tantalising pitch, but in your synopsis, I need to know where and why the big twists are happening and what the outcomes are. Finally, tell me something about yourself that gives me an insight into you as a person – do you have any pets, do you like eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon, what’s your party trick etc.

Any upcoming events you have:
I’ll be taking part in a panel event at the SCBWI Agent’s Party on 28 Sep 2018 and will also be giving a talk at the London Writers’ Club meeting in November.

Feature photo: Lauren Gardner. Photo by Dominic Evans AKA Dom & Ink

Kate Walker is a feature writer for Words & Pictures. She mainly writes MG fantasy as well as dabbling in picture books whenever a character grabs her imagination. Kate lives in Kent with her two children who are addicted to stories just as much as she is. 
Twitter: @KatakusM 

Carry de la Harpe is a features editor for Words & Pictures. 
Twitter: @Carry_delaHarpe

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