Friday 8 February 2019

The Agent

by Gill James

cheap white wine

Maxwell Tigertail sipped his white wine. He detected a slight fizz in it. Probably because it was cheap and a bit off rather than because it was a real sparkling.  He doubted anybody involved in the writing business could afford anything that fancy, even if they were supping it in some very plush offices not far from the Thames.
“So, what brings you here?” said the young woman in the seat next to him.
“I’m a crime novelist, too,” said Maxwell.  “I’m trying to place my latest novel.”
The woman’s eyes lit up. She wasn’t really Maxwell’s type but now that something had interested her, she looked quite attractive.  She was shorter than him. Her head just reached his shoulder. That was the height he liked his women. She had long hair too. Even better. She stretched out her hand to him.
“Janet Lyons,” she said. “Literary agent.  Are you already published?”
“A few short stories. Some articles in magazines. But I want to spend my time on writing longer fiction.”
“Tell me about your novel, then.”
Was this going to be his break- through? They said you should network, didn’t they? Well, here he was, networking.  Tell her about his novel?  Was she kidding? She’d have a job to shut him up.  He was going to be a bigger seller than Agatha Christie, even.  Eat your heart out Conan Doyle. Broadchurch  and Mayday didn’t come close.  No, this time the one who did it was even more unlikely.  Page-turner or what? And how they did it.  Nobody else had ever thought of that, had they?
It suddenly went quiet and official-looking people were making their way towards the front of the room. The three authors nominated for the Silver Shotgun award were looking decidedly nervous.   
“Looks as if they’re about to begin,” she said. “Here’s my card.  Do send me some your first three chapters and a synopsis.” She smiled, her pupils wide open.
Maxwell just wanted to kiss her but thought maybe he’d better not. He’d pulled again. It could be useful.

It turned out to be a pleasant evening. A couple more glasses of the cheap white helped him to chat easily to Janet Lyons and one or two other useful people.  The author he would have picked won the award, confirming that his taste was good and that he really did belong to this world of books. He even came home with a couple of good reads, bought at a discount.    
There was a letter waiting for him on the mat when he got home. In a buff  DL envelop. His heart rate increased. What could it be? Another rejection? A letter asking for the rest of the manuscript? An offer of a three book deal?
What? The franking mark said Lyons and Scott.  That sounded familiar. He opened the envelop, took out the letter and started to read.
“Dear Mr Tigertail,
Thank for your submission.  We are afraid that your story isn’t really for us. We do wish you luck in placing it elsewhere. Thank you for considering us.
Janet Lyons.”
A standard reply. Why hadn’t he recognised the name earlier? Probably because he’d now sent his text to over fifty agents.
But why had she seemed so interested in his book earlier this evening?  Probably she hadn’t even seen it.  Some jumped up little intern had sent this.
Perhaps he should have kissed her after all. And maybe even got her into bed. Then she’d have taken on his book because he was so irresistible.
Ah well. He’d know better next time.  It was all about using whatever assets you had in this business.     

About the author

Gill James is published by, amongst others, Tabby Cat Press, The Red Telephone, Butterfly, The Professional and Higher Partnership and Continuum. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Salford University.
She has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing  
She also edits - including for CafeLit

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