Tag Archives: Carolyn Jess-Cooke

1 day ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.

Writing tips from Carolyn Jess-Cooke and Marcia Moody


Carolyn Jess-Cooke

How to write while caring for young children

I should start with some context: I am a writer. I write novels and poetry, and occasionally I get published. Sometimes people give me awards, too, and I think about going out and celebrating, but then I remember that I have a 1 year old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old, and a 7 year old, and so I make do with inviting my brood to make chocolate cake which invariably gets plastered all over our cream sofa. The question I get asked most is also the question I most want to ask other women who write and also happen to have small people in their care: HOW DO YOU DO IT? Here are a few of my ideas.

One. Get used to writing anywhere, anytime, regardless of what is happening around you.

Two. Unless you suspend all paperwork from the ceiling, you will open your copy-edits one morning to find a beautiful scene of daisies and fairies drawn over many of the pages in yellow and pink felt-tip.

Three. Your daughter will do exactly what you used to do and rise every morning from the age of 7 years old to write. She will ask you when your publisher is going to publish her book, and pinch all your notebooks. And your laptop.

Four. You will find a strange link between doing the dishes and resolving plot issues.

Five. Ironing, too, will somehow become the means by which your characters are coaxed into being.

Six. You will accomplish far more in a single hour than you ever thought possible. What the child-free -you believed took weeks or months to write now takes you – pah! – a day.

Seven. You are more patient with your characters. You find the tendencies you had in the past – to force your characters to acquiesce to the plot you had in mind – fall away. You listen to them. You think about the way they were as toddlers, as young children, what made them who they are.

Eight. You are a ruthless reader. You don’t have time to read as much as you’d like, so if that book hasn’t seized you by the throat by page 10 – pfft. This in turn makes you much more critical of your own work – and mostly in a good way.

Nine. The best of it? You are too busy to have writer’s block. You will always experience periods of doubt, which cripples you and makes writing almost impossible. But for the most part, the words you find yourself saying to your little ones begin to sink in for you too: just a little bit more. Inch it forward. You can do it. Keep going. Don’t stop. I believe in you.

Ten. Don’t stress about the writing. It’s only writing. There are children to be loved and cared for. That’s the big stuff.

The Boy who could see Demons

THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS by Carolyn-Jess Cook, published by Piatkus, is out now.


Marcia Moody

Three steps to making it as a writer

When it comes to wise men, French hens and new episodes of Sherlock, three is indeed the magic number. Perhaps less well-known though, is this trio of tips about making it as a writer…

One. The most intimidating thing in the world is a blank screen, but you can start out by choosing to write on something a bit less scary. Carry a notebook with you so when you have a flash of inspiration you can jot down thoughts about characters or ideas. Napkins and old envelopes work too – but not the back of the hand of the stranger sat next to you.

Two. Take a writing course. Talent and knowledge is a powerful combination, so if you already have the flair for writing, then guidance on structure, self-editing and pitching can make you damn-near irresistible.

Three. Just live your life. A poem I wrote when I was 14 makes me cringe – not just because it includes the line, ‘Rain streaked from your eyes, as tears fell from above us’ – but because I had no idea what I was talking about. It’s important to have lived a little (or a lot) in order for what you’re writing about to connect with the reader. You don’t have to be surfing on tigers or playing Russian roulette with ill-prepared blowfish – it’s more about listening to people, experiencing emotions and noticing what’s going on around you, because what you’re living now could be what you’re writing about this time next year.

Harry by Marcia Moody

Marcia Moody‘s latest book HARRY, an unofficial biography of Prince Harry, is out in March 2014. Her biography of KATE is out now.


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New York Times review for Madeleine Milburn Agency author

The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-CookeCarolyn Jess-Cooke’s THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS has been reviewed alongside Louise Penny in The New York Times.

Random House / Delacorte Books published THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS in August this year with fantastic endorsements by a host of bestselling authors:

“Brilliant!  Rich with fully formed characters and stunning psychological drama, this heart-gripping novel will keep you riveted from first page to last.”

—Jeffery Deaver, author of XO

“Utterly captivating, this is a book I adored and savored from the first to the very last magical page.”

 —Tess Gerritsen, author of Ice Cold

“A psychologically complex thriller, told with compassion in a marvelously suspenseful narrative that keeps you engaged from the first page to the last.  This novel has it all: a dark and dangerous setting, characters full of depth, rich emotions, and a clever plot.  You’ll fall in love with Alex—and his demons.”

–Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Still Missing

“THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS is an absolute chiller.  Deep, moving, and utterly gripping, I was riveted from the unsettling beginning to the mindbender of an ending.   This is a stellar read that will stay with me a good long while.”  

–Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Lies



The Madeleine Milburn Agency is very excited by the US response, particularly given that the US edition has a completely different ending to the UK edition, published by Piatkus in 2012.  Carolyn Jess-Cooke is the prize-winning international bestselling author of THE GUARDIAN ANGEL’S JOURNAL, now translated into 22 languages.


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Shortlisted for the Brit Writers’ Awards 2012

Congratulations!  THE GUARDIAN ANGEL’S JOURNAL by Carolyn Jess-Cooke (Piatkus) has been shortlisted for the Published Writer of the Year for this year’s Brit Writers’ Awards 2012. The gala dinner and awards ceremony will take place on the evening of 1st December in London.

THE GUARDIAN ANGEL’S JOURNAL has now been translated into 21 different languages.   It asks one hugely poignant question, ‘if you could live your life again, what would you do differently?’  Author of SISTER, Rosamund Lupton, called it ‘richly imaginative, original and thought-provoking.’  We are thrilled that she’s on the shortlist.

Prizewinning author and poet, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Following a BA, MA, and PhD at Queen’s University, she took up a lectureship in Film Studies at the University of Sunderland. She is Poetry Advisor for Mslexia and a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Northumbria University.  Her latest book, THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS, was out in the UK earlier this year and is being published by Random House in America at the beginning of 2013.

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