Name: Rachel Hamilton 

Agency: The Ben Illis Agency 

Genres represented: MG and YA 

Authors you represent: 
We represent wonderful authors like Jasbinder Bilan, Beverley Birch, Mel Darbon, Matt Dickinson, Lu Hersey, Ian Johnstone, Jacqueline King, Paul Magrs, Claire McFall, Kimberly Pauley, and Sophie Plowden. 

What’s on your wishlist #MSWL? 
I love humour, especially with a dark edge, and I enjoy action-adventure tales with clever twists and turns. At the moment I’m in the mood for a spooky MG horror or a surprising YA romance. I’m always interested in hearing from diverse voices with a story to tell. 

What is your working style with clients? 
I’m in an unusual position as an author-editor-agent hybrid: I’ve had six books published (with Simon & Schuster, OUP, and Scholastic) and was a freelance editor before I became an agent (working with individual authors and organisations like Cornerstones and Writers & Artists). As a result, I’m heavily editorial, which is why I joined the Ben Illis Agency. Ben and I both I love getting stuck into clients’ stories and helping to bring them to life. Being a fellow author, I can empathise with the highs and lows of the journey to publication, so I’m good with the consoling cups of tea as well as the celebratory champagne and cake. 

Do you choose books with head or heart? 
Both. I’ve always valued my rational and emotional sides equally. I have a degree in Economics, but I also have one in English Literature and Language; my first job was in strategic planning but my second was in creative writing and, while I love the creativity of storytelling, I also respect the commercial side of publishing. So, when I read through submissions, I’m looking to fall in love with the story, but I’m also thinking about where (or indeed, if) it fits within the current marketplace. 

Which book or character has stayed with you since childhood? 
Ferdinand from ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ (1936). I love the idea that no matter how hard other people try to convince you to follow the crowd or provoke a fight, it’s fine to simply sit under a tree and smell the flowers. This is one of those stories that evokes different emotions at different points in your life. As a child, it reassured me that I wasn’t the only one who felt happiest alone with my own imagination. In my teens and twenties, when I became more political, I celebrated the fact that it was written just after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and was seen as a pacifist book. I liked that my favourite book had been banned in many countries, including Nazi Germany, where Hitler ordered it burned as "degenerate democratic propaganda." More recently, I’ve realised it offers great parenting advice, and I admire Mother Cow for recognising that Ferdinand is happy exactly as he is and resisting the pressure to parent him according to society’s expectations, by just letting him be himself. 

If you were a character in Philip Pullman's Dark Materials which daemon would you have and why? 

Easy. My daemon would SO be a walrus. They’re brilliantly big and, just like me, they’re clumsy and accident prone outside their natural environments – I love the thought of an awkward daemon that keeps knocking everything over and giving sheepish apologies. They’re also like me in that although they enjoy the thought of socialising, they tend to waddle off when things get too noisy, and they’re at their happiest lazing around, bellowing at the world. Plus, I’ve always wanted tusks! 

Submission tips: 
Get to know your intended market and ensure your writing is age appropriate. Show us your passion and convince us you are the perfect person to have written this book. 

How to submit: 
You can submit to us at The guidelines are clearly laid out on the page. 

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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