Lydia Silver 

Agency: The Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency 

Genres represented: Children’s and YA 

Authors you represent and recent deals: 
If it’s part of the world of children’s books, I’m happy to represent it! I look after a wide range of authors, from picture books to YA, in both fiction and non-fiction, and several of my clients write across genres. Rashmi Sirdeshpande’s brilliant, inventive fiction picture book Never Show a T Rex A Book is out in July, and she also writes non-fiction for younger readers (How to Be Extraordinary) and middle grade readers (Dosh publishes this summer). Rachel Morrisroe writes bonkers, rhyming stories, and her debut How to Grow a Unicorn will be out early next year. I love middle grade adventure and I’m excited by authors who want to take a risk here, like Dominic Beesley whose Pure Imagination is an audio exclusive. In terms of recent (unannounced) deals, I’ve just finalised a groundbreaking YA non-fiction project with Walker Books, a classic feeling middle grade story with Egmont and a three-book young fiction project with Hachette which never fails to make me smile! I also represent illustrators, such as Soofiya and Zanna Goldhawk, and I love an illustrator who also has ideas for their own stories. 

What’s on your wishlist #MSWL? 
This is always a hard question to answer. While there are some specific things that I’d love to find, the books that really grab me and make me want to work with the author are often things I would never have thought I wanted! That being said, in a more general way, there are a few areas that would immediately make me want to read more: 
- Genuinely scary/creepy/spooky middle grade 
- A swoony YA romance with a great hook 
- Non-fiction projects that actually explain some of those key skills we’re expected to just magically acquire, or things we feel we should know about, but don’t 
- Engaging, illustrated younger fiction with an unusual twist. 

I’m also actively trying to make my list more representative of our society, so I’d particularly welcome submissions from underrepresented writers. 

What is your working style with clients? 
Before becoming an agent, I worked in the fiction editorial team at Egmont, so I’m very hands-on. With most clients, we’ll do at least a couple of rounds of edits before anything gets sent out, and that even applies to proposals for non-fiction projects. I do want things to be in a relatively close to finished state before I take anyone on, but occasionally if I can see the spark of something brilliant but the idea needs a complete re-write, I’ll suggest the direction that might be and do a little work before the client signs with me, to get it into a position I’m really confident in. 

Do you choose books with head or heart? 
When I first open a covering letter, I’m thinking with my head. Is this something that I have space for on my list? Is this something that I think the market wants? Does the idea excite me? Is it doing something a bit different? And how would I pitch it? That dictates how excited I am by the project and whether it’s one I want to seriously consider. But then, once I’m reading, my final decision is more influenced by my heart. I’m looking for the books that I can’t put down, that I keep talking to everyone in the office (or currently, in my flat!) about. If I find myself exclaiming out loud how brilliant a book is, or how great the writer is, or how much I need to know what happens… that’s when I finally decide to take an author on. 

Which book or character has stayed with you since childhood? 
Every time I think about this, I always come back to Lyra Silvertongue. Wild, headstrong, a little bit strange, a little bit angry, she’s the first heroine I remember desperately wanting to be. But I also think that the oddest things have the strongest impressions – I was utterly obsessed with a book called Doctor Franklin’s Island when I was a teenager, which was about a mad scientist turning children into animals. When I was a bit younger, I was massively into the Animal Ark series (learning that Lucy Daniels isn’t a real person was a HUGE shock) and way back in the past, I was apparently in love with Peace at Last by Jill Murphy. I can still recite almost the whole thing from memory… 

Which house would the sorting hat put you in? 
I’m a proud Slytherin – there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, determined, and looking good in green. 

How to submit to you: All our submission guidelines are on our website. 

Submission tips: Please, please include some sort of blurb or pitch in your cover letter. While we read everything we’re sent, it’s so much harder to evaluate a book if we don’t have a really clear pitch beforehand. When you choose a book on the shelf, you’ve got all sorts of clues about the story, from the cover to where it’s shelved. We don’t have any of that, so the blurb is our only window into the world we’re about to enter. 

Upcoming events: I’ll be looking at manuscripts on a picture book course with WriteMentor, led by Clare Helen Walsh.

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

Suzanne Dore is a graphic designer, illustrator and writer. She has illustrated for the National Trust and the University of Oxford as well as many private commissions. 

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