Tag Archives: psychological suspense

MM Literary Agency: News & Reviews

Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis  IF YOU'RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte  The Accident by C.L. Taylor  MY HAMSTER IS A SPY by Dave Lowe

DON’T STAND SO CLOSE by Luana Lewis (out February 2014, Transworld) is Glamour magazine’s ‘Must Read’:

‘This is a wonderfully tense story, full of characters who may or may not be telling the truth … Compellingly creepy. Not one to read while home alone.’  Glamour Magazine

IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte (out February 2014, Mira Books)

‘Addictive, heartwarming yet funny, the novel explores the question that we all sometimes ask ourselves. Jennifer’s experience – her world of alternate lives with each of her ex partners –  was an engrossing tale that I found hard to put down. I had to find out what happened to each of her ‘other’ selves. A clever, wonderfully written novel that I’d definitely recommend.’  Chicklit Uncovered

THE ACCIDENT by C.L. Taylor (out April 2014, HarperCollins)

‘An ominous atmosphere, a tense tale of past and present colliding, and a narrator whom no-one believes: this book is a delight.’  Alex Marwood (author of ‘The Wicked Girls’ and ‘The Killer Next Door’) 

STINKY AND JINKS: MY HAMSTER IS A SPY by Dave Lowe (Out now, Templar)

‘With its use of plentiful humour, terrific characters (Stinky the grumpy hamster is utterly adorable), simple language and appealing illustrations, this series is perfect for emerging independent readers.’  Sunday Tasmanian


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17 days ’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.


Luana Lewis

Twenty-Six Weeks and Five Days:  Christmas at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, 2001

I heard him cry. A nurse showed me a flash of his face, smiled, then rushed away.

‘Congratulations,’ the consultant said.

I suppose there’s not much else he could have said, under the circumstances, but I thought it bizarre. I felt terror instead of joy. I didn’t want this tiny, sick baby.

But he had decided to live, to breathe, so that was that. I had no choice, I had a son.

After a few hours, I was in better physical shape and ready to see him. I was wheeled up to the special care baby unit.

He lay on his back, lobster red in the dim light, covered in bubble wrap, his face hidden by the brutal blue pipe of the ventilator taped across his cheeks. His head was the size of a peach. His eyes had not opened because the eyelids were still fused shut. The cartilage in his body had not yet formed and his ears rolled into themselves like seashells.

He weighed less than two pounds.

My son was supposed to have been born on 16 March 2002, but instead he arrived a little over three months early, on 13 December 2001. On the day of my three-month ultrasound scan, I had sat in a waiting room, in shock, watching planes crash into the Twin Towers. The doctor had reassured me everything was fine.

That first time I saw him, I leant over his incubator but I was too scared to touch him. The nurse said I had to pick him up, to hold him.

Most of all I hated the wires. They poked through the backs of his hands, into his little ankles and his legs and his miniature feet. I was scared when I lifted him up, that the wires would catch and pull and hurt him. For three months, the thing I wanted most was to hold him, without any wires, just a baby, skin to skin.

Every day they would stick more needles into the back of his hands, or his feet, to collect a few drops of blood. He still has the scars. He had too little energy to protest or even to cry.

After five days the blue pipe was removed and he breathed mostly on his own.

The parents of the baby in the next incubator were teenagers whose baby was born even earlier, at twenty-one weeks. ‘Hello my little princess,’ the father said each day.

Some babies around us were allowed home after a day or two, others were rushed to surgery, two died. We were long-stay residents.

I sat for hours on end, in the armchair next to his incubator, while he slept tucked inside my shirt, wires and all. Every day I hoped he would not have a brain bleed, or pick up an infection. In the evenings, I would leave the hospital and nobody could see there was a part of me missing, nobody knew I was a mother.

The nurses walked softly on white-soled shoes. They worked twelve-hour shifts. I remember a perfect Filipino nurse with her hair in a long, sleek ponytail that hung impeccably down her back. She was my favourite, young and precise and gentle. When she was on duty overnight, I went home and I slept. I also slept when Amanda from New Zealand was on duty. There were others, though, who were careless, who dressed him roughly and laughed harshly over him. There were times where we would wake up in the night and drive all the way back to the hospital to check on him.

My son slept and he grew, in his own quiet, determined way.

One of the other mothers called him a handsome brute.

Although his forehead began to bulge from the pressure on his still-soft skull, he did not get ill. He did not have a brain bleed. His eyes were not destroyed from the time he was on the ventilator.

I could feed him, through a tube at first, which passed from his nose down into his stomach. I pushed my milk down, using a small plastic syringe.

When he grew a little bigger, they dressed him in doll’s clothes. They have a cupboard full. I bought him a pair of newborn socks from The Gap but they came all the way up to his thigh.

This year he started secondary school.

During the three months we spent in neo-natal intensive care, there were many small acts of kindness that meant the world. On Christmas morning, the nurses put up decorations and placed a small, wrapped gift next to each of the babies.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who performs miracles at the Winnicott Baby Unit, and courage to all parents spending Christmas in special care baby units.


Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis

Luana Lewis‘s debut psychological suspense novel, DON’T STAND SO CLOSE, will be published by Transworld in February. 

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‘Thought-provoking and intelligent’

Soho 4AM by Nuala CaseyThought-provoking and intelligent, Nuala Casey’s début is one to savour.’  Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner

Enormous congratulations to Nuala Casey on the publication of her début novel, SOHO, 4AM.  Set over 24 hours, SOHO, 4AM is a psychological thriller about four ordinary people who walk a dangerous, twisted path in London’s greatest adult playground.  Come the morning of the 7th July, as jubilation turns to horror, will they have fallen into Soho’s poisoned embrace whilst the nation’s eyes are turned elsewhere?

In the early Noughties, Nuala Casey moved into a tiny, cramped studio flat in Soho with her then boyfriend, and set about forging a career as a singer-Nuala_Casey_03songwriter. Yet despite being in her early twenties and living in the heart of London’s jazz and entertainment scene, Nuala became disillusioned with the celebrity-obsessed world of the music industry and found her inspiration, instead, in the colourful characters of Soho; the ordinary men and women who lived and worked amid the partying and excess. Soon, her scribbled song lyrics developed into detailed stories which chronicled the real, hidden world that existed in the shadows of the noise and neon. These stories would go on to form the basis of her début novel.

Quercus publish today on 4th July and have secured fantastic promotions with retailers including WHSmith Travel, Waterstones and Asda.  Nuala is currently writing her second thriller under contract, THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER, where she returns to the characters seven years on.

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New York 2013

Flatiron building - home to publishers including Macmillan and Bloomsbury

Flatiron building – home to publishers including Macmillan and Bloomsbury

I spent last week in New York on business seeing over 50 editors from 11 major US publishing companies.  Each day tended to be ordered around two major publishers, with thirty minute back-to-back appointments at each.  Day 1 consisted of Little, Brown and HarperCollins; day 2: Simon & Schuster and Random House; day 3: Penguin and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; day 4: Bloomsbury, Macmillan’s imprints (all in my favourite building in NY, the Flatiron) and Egmont; day 5: Hyperion and Scholastic.

It felt wonderful cementing relationships and meeting new editors to work with as there has been so much movement over the last two years.  I am now busy following up my meetings and submitting new material by my clients to all the interested editors.

Further to the success of S.J. Watson’s BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, psychological suspense is still working really well. Everyone I spoke to had read, or was reading, the cracking psychological suspense novel GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. Even the children’s editors were discussing this book, reminding me of my last business trip in NY when the crime author Tana French was most talked about.  St Martin’s Press will be publishing Sophie McKenzie’s gripping first adult psychological suspense, CLOSE MY EYES, this summer, and I was very lucky to get a proof copy. Most of the editors were looking for new psychological suspense – even on the Young Adult side they were looking for this genre, particularly stories told by an unreliable narrator.

The other trend that was most talked about was New Adult, defined by an editor as realistic stories involving college age characters (with lots of sex), appealing to adult readers. It looks like popular sitcoms like GIRLS are now translating into books.

It was a super trip, and I’m already looking forward to my return.

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