Dare To Do - like Sarah Outen

What a day it was for Sarah Outen. After five years looping the planet by pedal and paddle, 25,000 miles later she arrived back at Tower Bridge, London. Her mantra was 'smile and breathe'.

She cycled across Europe, Asia and North America; rowed and kayaked across the North Pacific and most of the North Atlantic. She was halfway across the North Atlantic, battling the bad weather that would leave her in deadly danger from a hurricane, when I relayed to her via her Iridium phone that we had two publishers bidding for the book she would write about the adventure.

A few days ago, she was able to meet her new publisher, Nicholas Brealey, for the first time while on her final leg of the journey. And after a short rest, she'll be starting to write her book, DARE TO DO, which will be published in June 2016. 

Her first book, A DIP IN THE OCEAN, about her record-breaking solo row across the Indian Ocean in her early twenties, was published by Summersdale just before she set off on her loop of the planet, and I had the opportunity to work with her on it. 

The new book will be a challenge in itself because she has so much to tell. Over the last five years she has met with devastating catastrophe, motivated people to do amazing things and encountered unbelievable beauty in the natural world. 

Sarah's an inspiration. As she writes, the story of her adventure and inner journey 'will also be a call to action, to redefine your own boundaries, to be courageous, and dare to do.'




BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06mtmsb

‘When I first met her, I knew that Sarah was a very special person with fire in her belly… She is honest, open, courageous and inspiring… and has a contagious love for life’ – Dame Ellen MacArthur
‘Sarah has self reliance and belief in quantities that I haven’t come across in anyone else... Until you experience the loneliness and awe inspiring scale and ferocity of the oceans, it’s hard to fathom the resilience that Sarah Outen has.’ – Mark Beaumont

‘There is only one Sarah Outen... She is off-the-wall, bombards everything with positive energy, and lives her life with a strong moral compass and a huge heart.’ – Ed Stafford 
‘Infectiously positive, brave across the board, a trailblazer, mood-setter and role model, she is the top female adventurer of the 21st century - nobody else comes close.’ – Dave Cornthwaite 
‘Sarah – you are obviously certifiably bonkers. Thank god.’ – Dawn French
‘Definitely mad. Definitely marvellous.’ – Sir Ranulph Fiennes

‘Like Wild – only Wilder.’ – BT Sport

Prunes for Breakfast - One Man's War

My last post here was about a mother's journey to come to terms with her son's death. This week I'm writing about a son's journey (of sorts) to connect with his father.

Many years after the deaths of my parents, my aunt handed me a box filled with letters that my father had written to my mother over the period from 1940 to 1945. This was the starting point of a journey for me to rediscover the father I had never really known...’

I was delighted to have the opportunity to work as editor with author John Searancke on this fascinating story in which we see World War Two through the eyes of an ordinary man from his calling up in 1940 to his release from a prisoner of war camp in Germany in 1945.
The book's curious title shows how we see the war through the minutiae of daily events - the details the man chose to write to his wife, often downplaying the harrowing experiences he actually lived through - such as the series of bloody skirmishes from the beaches of Normandy until he led his troops to face the formidable might of the SS Panzers, his battle coming to an abrupt end in an orchard surrounded by the enemy. 

John, who was born during these years - the early years of the war when his father was sent on one training course after another - and who makes an appearance through the letters, never really knew his father, so it was a feat of imagination to weave the letters into a fictional 'memoir' based on a vast amount of research. The book is a very good read, especially for anyone interested in that era.

John Searancke grew up in Ashby-de-la-Zouch and has been a hotel and restaurant owner, director and chairman of a marketing consortium, and a partner of a commercial legal services company. He now lives with his wife Sally in northern Tenerife, and is a restaurant reviewer for the Canary Islands newspaper Island Connections. His first book was Dog Days in the Fortunate Islands (Matador, 2014).

PRUNES FOR BREAKFAST: ONE MAN'S WAR will be published on 27 October 2015 by Matador (£9.99 paperback, £4.99 ebook) and is now available for pre-order.

John's website, which has a gallery page with images related to both his books, is: www.johnsearancke.com.

You can also meet the author at:

Junkie Buddha: a mother's journey - at DrugFAM

On 3 October, Diane Esguerra gave a speech at the Annual Bereaved by Addiction Conference held by DrugFAM, which aims to support families affected by drug and alcohol addiction.
Her book, JUNKIE BUDDHA, is about a journey of discovery when she went to scatter the ashes of her son, a year after he died of an accidental heroin overdose. Her talk was about attempting to create value through loss. 'As a Buddhist I believe that life is precious,' she writes, 'and that value can potentially be created through any suffering - however harrowing.'

Diane is a writer and a psychotherapist who lost her only child, Sacha, ten years ago. Sacha, like many addicts, was more than 'just a junkie', she writes. To his friends and family he was wise, gentle, creative, handsome and kind - a global and spiritual traveller, a lover of animals and nature. He had hiked the Inca Trail and said he'd love to return to watch the sun rise over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. Diane travelled there to scatter his ashes.
The journey wasn't an easy one - but it helped to reconnect her with life. On her return, she set up Greenlight Healing and Personal Development Consultancy. 'I believe that my journey with Sacha... has made me a better therapist and a more compassionate human being.'

Since its launch in September, the book has been featured in the Daily Mail and The Independent, and broadcaster Jeni Barnett said on BBC radio that not only could she not put it down but it 'is going to help millions'.


Rugby Players to Tread the Boards

A Surrey rugby club, Warlingham RFC, will swap the training pitch for the London theatre stage this September. Players from Warlingham and neighbouring clubs will stage an adaptation of Steven Gauge’s book My Life as a Hooker at the Museum of Comedy in Bloomsbury from 21 September as England hosts the Rugby World Cup finals. Warlingham RFC is the club where England Rugby captain Chris Robshaw played his rugby as a young boy.

The play tells Steven Gauge’s story of taking up rugby at the age of 35 as part of a mild mid-life crisis. He discovers a weird, wonderful and welcoming selection of players and wins himself a place in the front row of the Warlingham scrum. He is taught the laws of the game, in some cases rather painfully by opposition players, but he eventually rises to become captain of the Warlingham 4th XV.

Warlingham 4th XV turns out to be the third worst side in Surrey yet under Gauge’s leadership rises to be only the 4th worst. Audiences will be treated to the delights of a club tour to Bognor and share the camaraderie, comedy and sheer joy of grown men of all shapes and sizes chasing an oval ball around a muddy pitch.

The book My Life as a Hooker was shortlisted in the British Sports Book awards in 2013 and is published by Summersdale. Journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed said of the book, “Steven Gauge writes with charm, wit, intelligence and real insight.” Luke Benedict, rugby writer for the Daily Mail said, “If this is what a midlife crisis does for you, I want one.”

The book has been adapted for the stage by Steven Gauge who will play himself in the production, supported by a cast drawn from fellow rugby players from Warlingham and other local clubs. The play will run from Monday 21 September to Saturday 26 from 7pm. Tickets are on sale now from the Museum of Comedy website: www.museumofcomedy.com. The play is part of the Festival of Rugby 2015 and coincides with the opening week of the Rugby World Cup.

The Way a River Went - Thom Wheeler

Amongst other things Thoreau was a naturalist and a leading transcendentalist – believing in the inherent goodness of both nature and people… I thought this was a pretty good place to start from.
To follow the Volga from its birth and to watch her story unravelling in front of my eyes was a privilege. It was like passing through centuries of Russia’s gilded and varied history – the river is in so many ways representative of the country through which it travels. I passed through regions as rich in diverse cultures as they are in arresting scenery – Orthodox churches and hilltop kremlins share a stage with the concrete brutality of Stalin’s industrial vision – whilst all the time meeting Russians who lived their lives a very long way from the skyscrapers of Moscow.
The Russians speak of the river with a god-like reverence, and spending a prolonged period in its company I really got a sense of its place amongst the people; it truly is a thing of spiritual wealth and of hope, not to mention employment and food. The Volga River is the heart of the country at the heart of the country.

Travelling the length of the Volga in one trip had been something I’d harboured thoughts of doing for a while. For anyone with more than just a passing interest in the country and its history, it seemed so obvious – here was this great river that sliced through the heartland of Russia, a river that wasn’t particularly long (relative to other great rivers) and one that didn’t throw up too many physical challenges (again , relative)… a river that many Russians would cite as relevant to them for so many different reasons. Eventually the nudge – well, shove really – that I needed to get on and do it came when a friend of mine chose to get married in Astrakhan, a city located right at the end of the river. If that wasn’t a sign for me to get on with the journey, I don’t know what would have been. I went for it and will be forever grateful for being handed the excuse.
I made the journey by a variety of means. Having originally planned in a moment of fancy to row down the whole length, I eventually ditched the dinghy after about eighty kilometres, after travelling the gentlest stretch from the source to the provincial town of Tver. It was then local buses, train, passenger boat; I hitched the stretch from Yaroslavl to Nizhni Novgorod, eventually getting a lift from a trucker with a keen interest in thermodynamics, and I walked some of the more picturesque stretches of the lower Volga. I joined a freight carrier for the final leg from Volgograd down to Astrakhan as I thought it only appropriate to complete the journey on the water.
I like to find stories about the people of Russia that are essentially fun and uplifting (they do exist), away from the politics (as much as that is possible). This is a side of the country I see when I travel there. I see the warmth and generosity of spirit of the people, something we tend not to hear so much about in the West. It’s hard to choose a favourite experience, as so many stand out…
Perhaps the Mamaev Kurgan: nothing could have prepared me for this memorial to the Battle of Stalingrad, which was simply mind-blowing in size and statement. I was kindly taken by a man called Alexi who I’d met only hours earlier on a train. The 82-metre Mother Russia bearing down on present day Volgograd, sword aloft, is more than a little intimidating, and a fitting memorial to one of the most brutal battles of WW2. My enthusiastic guide Alexi then insisted that I stay with him and his wife in their apartment, which I duly did for the next four days…
… Or perhaps my favourite experience was in the boat along the early stretch from the source, through a Russia apparently untouched by modernity…
… No, the highlight has to be finishing the journey with friends at a wedding – Russian style! A double celebration that went on for several days…

Ever since a first visit to the then Soviet Union with Mr Gardiner’s A-level history class, I’ve been hooked. My first big trip through Russia was in Max the Campervan travelling from Tallinn in Estonia to Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, in the nineties, and I’ve been a long and short term visitor to Russia ever since. A Russian boss I once had joked that I was ‘just another Englishman coming to Russia in search of adventure!’ I guess I was then and still am perhaps; however, nowadays I have good friends in Russia so my motivation to return is less fanciful. I have lived and worked in St Petersburg over the years and consider the city something of a home from home – although I increasingly find myself avoiding the winters.

THOM'S WEBSITE: http://www.thomwheeler.net/

Coming soon...

Big books coming out in the next few months by my clients!



Back in the office, with lots of news!

It's been another exciting month for the agency, not least because I am settled again in my office in Megalo Horio, Tilos, after spending so much time travelling in the last year. It's very peaceful working here in the mornings, with the sound of birdsong and sheeps' bells. But the agency has been buzzing, and it's not just the bees...

As a result of discussions at London Book Fair, a deal has just been signed for Canadian author Brad Smith's new novel, tentatively entitled ROUGH JUSTICE, with Severn House. We're excited as it's the first time he's been published in the UK. We're also on the brink of signing a three-book deal for digital editions of his previous novels with another publisher. Stay tuned.

Steven Gauge appeared on Sky Sports with two members of his rugby team who feature in his book, and announced that tickets have gone on sale for the stage version of MY LIFE AS A HOOKER in September.

Ian Moore, after the success of A LA MOD and C'EST MODNIFIQUE, has been asked to speak at the France Show (held at London Olympia) next January. He is currently working on a debut crime novel set in France. I love his new website, too...

Samantha Verant's SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS has been sold in three new territories, Latvia, Hungary and Poland, thanks to her US publisher Sourcebooks. Now returned to France from a very successful book signing at Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica, she has reached the exciting stage of being almost ready with a new book proposal, in spite of having broken a finger...

Bradt Travel Guides have launched a new anthology, TO OLDLY GO, with stories from adventurous travellers aged 60-plus, and the competition for entries is open until mid-June. I'll be editing it as well as selling the rights - though I don't get to judge the entries! The book will be launched in September.

Jane Curry Publishing have announced they are re-branding to Ventura Press as they join forces with Simon & Schuster Australia to take the book sales to the next level.

And we have started working with co-agents Prava i Prevodi to promote the agency's books across Eastern Europe. 

Thanks, folks: authors, publishers, freelancers and readers! The office assistant isn't much help with checking contracts or reading manuscripts but she ensures I get out for a break regularly...

London Book Fair 2015

London Book Fair 2015 was exhausting and energising in equal parts, as always. Looking around and listening to what people have to say, all those thousands of people selling millions of books worldwide, is a healthy reminder that you need to be sharp and dedicated to stay in the game. That’s one reason it’s so important.
When you prepare for a book fair as an agent or rights person, you think you know what your ‘big books’ are. But often you’re taken by surprise. At this fair, people were interested in gift and parenting books for dads: DAD’S WISDOM and the SUPERDAD SPEEDBIBLE were requested over and over again.
There were great tips to be picked up from contacts in various countries. For example, it’s vital to have a good author photo. A particular project didn’t make it into a co-agent’s catalogue because the headshot was poor.
In the UK, independent publishers were upbeat and strong. They may be working harder than before, but their lists look vibrant and the quality is high. They’ve weathered the e-book storm, and now do well in both e- and paper formats.
Our wonderful new Spanish agents, Sandra Bruna Agencia Literaria, were full of good energy. They said too many publishers follow a bandwagon, take on ‘copycat books’ to follow a trend, then wonder why they don’t sell as well as the book that started the trend. Why not set the trend by doing something original? They love to present fresh ideas.
I was inspired by a fellow freelance writer and editor who had also given up a well-paid job to go it alone. She said the challenges, difficulties and continual learning of being a freelancer were something positive, and she was never bored these days.
On the other hand, at another meeting a gentleman from a European publishing company made it explicitly clear that the books I had to offer were not sufficiently best-selling for him even to look at them. Comments like that are the exception rather than the norm at book fairs. Book people are usually supportive people, which is why book fairs are also occasions to meet up with old friends. I was at least cheered when a woman stopped me to compliment me on my white linen dress and ask me where I got it.
For the first time, I found myself stopping to listen to some of the panel discussions for authors, since the venue was conveniently located halfway between the exhibition floor and the rights centre. Representatives from the Daily Mail and the Bookseller magazine as well as a book blog agreed that most self-published book jackets are ‘awful’, and that good covers and beautiful books matter. As reviewers, they spend a little more time with a book if the cover is great, because it’s more likely to end up being a success. They said that co-publishing offers a good opportunity for authors to work with a team who understand what covers and marketing work for the trade.
Another talk mentioned that to make a book successful you need commitment, passion, and a story that makes people jump for joy and want to tell all their friends.
On the evening after my second day at the fair, the lens fell out of my glasses – glasses I need for navigating my way around a big trade show and spotting familiar faces. So thanks most of all to the lovely woman at David Clulow opticians in Hammersmith, where I dashed in at one minute past nine on the second day of the fair, who fixed my glasses. It’s the little things that are sometimes the most important…

A great start to 2015 for the agency

Exciting things have been happening - it's been a great start to 2015 for the agency!

Midlife Manifesto : A toolkit to plan the rest of your life - Jane Mathews
Firstly, we have not one, not two, but three international deals for Jane Curry Publishing titles. MIDLIFE MANIFESTO: A Toolkit to Plan the Rest of Your Life by Jane Mathews has sold in the US and Korea, and parenting book TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE by Michael Hawton has sold in China.

Next up, we have found a very enthusiastic North American publisher for Ants Bolingbroke-Kent's book A SHORT RIDE IN THE JUNGLE, which this week reached the number one spot in Asia and motorcycles on Amazon in the UK.

And in the UK, Eye Books are preparing for publication of JUNKIE BUDDHA by Diane Esguerra, about the death of her son from a heroin overdose and her journey to scatter his ashes at Machu Picchu. Sandie Shaw, the singer, psychotherapist and Buddhist says it is 'an inspiring and uplifting book about finding infinite value in profound loss'. The book is due to be out in late summer.

What else? Samantha Verant's book SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS has now been sold by her US publisher Sourcebooks into Italy and Greece to add to the growing list of countries captivated by the love story, which has just been launched in Bulgarian with this beautiful cover...

Ian 'Mod' Moore will be performing at the Bradford Literature Festival. Author Tony Parsons says his latest book C'EST MODNIFIQUE is 'easily the best Englishman abroad memoir since Gerald Durrell was in short trousers'.

Finally, we've started working with a new co-agent in Spain, to add to our co-agents in Germany, Korea, Italy and China.

More information on all the above to be found here: