Emma is a Literary Agent, actively building a list of fiction and non-fiction. Her publishing career started here at Janklow and Nesbit in 2019, having completed degrees in both Law and Psychology. She is editorially focused, representing new writers and keen to build and nurture international careers for them, working very closely with the New York office and Translation Rights team. Her clients include Chukwuebuka Ibeh, Olivia Petter, Rupert Dastur, and behalf of the US office, Erica Berry, Aisha Muharrar, and the late Katherine Min.
In fiction, my taste is ever-growing. Whether literary or commercial, I gravitate towards books that hold the perfect mix of compelling characters and clever plot. I’m looking for books that have an emotional core at the centre of their story and a distinct voice that immediately draws me in. I’m drawn to stories that are heart-breaking as well as heart-healing, ones I feel like I can figure out and piece together like a puzzle or that leave me speechless to the very end – books that stay with me stand as a corrective force to the world we live in.
On the literary end, I look for novels that are psychologically astute, absorbing, and true to the human condition, where I can root for the characters and their moral complexities. I recently loved TRESSPASSES by Louise Kennedy as I am a sucker for forbidden love stories (and/or unlikely romances!), especially when true events work into the emotional depth of the story. I never shy away from books that ask the all-too-real issues, yet can find the light and play in its chaos. Ruth Ozeki’s THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS is the perfect example of this, I thought it was masterful in its dialogue and wit. Another recent favourite of mine in this space was Claire Keegan's SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE. I would also like to find more books that celebrate the messiness of living, that are not afraid to be expressive and lyrical, like Caleb Azumah Nelson’s OPEN WATER or Akwaeke Emezi’s YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY. Coco Mellors’ CLEOPATRA AND FRANKENSTEIN is another favourite read of mine, so if you have anything as tender, witty, and stylish, please send it to me!
On the more commercial end, I am drawn to standout, original ideas that hold a mystery or suspense at their heart, with that clever commercial hook or one-liner that’s going to get me and my international colleagues sitting up. I love an unexpected twist, and a genuine, interesting protagonist that can carry me through to the last page. I’d like to find more smart psychological thrillers, such as Laura Dave’s THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME, or Jessamine Chan’s THE SCHOOL OF GOOD MOTHERS. I would also love to find a beautiful, epic romance such as Audrey Niffenegger’s THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE, or romances that make me assume one thing about a character or premise, to have it completely change as you read on – for example, I recently read Beth O’Leary’s THE NO SHOW and it completely took me by surprise!
In non-fiction, I focus on books that encourage readers to be kinder to themselves, to others, and the world they live in – leaving our hearts in a much better place and toward a better future; whether that we rethink the conventional way we approach life like in Oliver Burkeman’s FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS, or bring hope and action in a time of fear that we see in Rebecca Solnit’s HOPE IN THE DARK, or make some of us feel more understood like in Susan Cain’s QUIET. I would have loved to have represented Dr Julie Smith’s WHY HAS NOBODY TOLD ME THIS BEFORE, as I am in awe of her practical solutions and therapeutic wisdom for everyday life. I’m also keen to work with clients who have a media platform and can bring what they offer online and turn their core message into a book, drawing on expertise and observation, whether from others or themselves, to learn about a notable experience, for example, Natasha Lunn’s CONVERSATIONS ON LOVE, Candice Brathwaite’s SISTA SISTER, or Joe Wicks’s LEAN IN 15.
You can also follow Emma on Twitter @emmalleong where she re-tweets from time to time.