Posted by Amelia Kyazze on 16 May 2023, in Byte Connects, News
Byte The Book loves bringing people from all areas of the publishing world together so that they can learn from each other and collaborate, and we want to highlight some wonderful collaborations that have come about via Byte The Book. Here's Edwina de Charnace, an agent with MMB Creative, who met Emma Simpson and author, at a Byte the Book Agent Table event in July 2022.
We asked Edwina to tell us more:
How did you find Emma?
I met Emma through a Byte the Book ‘speed dating’ event between agents and authors. I was given a sample of Emma’s writing ahead of the event and asked for a one-on-one chat with her off the back of reading that extract.
What did you like about her work?
Emma’s writing felt instantly immersive and familiar to me. Reading about how the open water has healed her in more ways than she imagined when she first started wild swimming (she’s far braver than I am, but I have my tropical upbringing to blame), really resonated. Emma’s a natural storyteller with a voice that is uniquely distinctive (she’s as hilarious on the page as she is in person), while also being capacious enough to hold other people’s stories without diluting them. That’s probably what I liked most about her work in the first instance. I also appreciated the fact that reading her made me forget/not register our age difference. Not that I’m ageist or believe that age matters when it comes to professional collaboration, or any other forms of connection for that matter. It’s more that Emma’s writing confirmed to me that we’re all humans existing alongside each other, and water is one of the many ways we can experience this world together, each in our own way.
What's happened since Emma has signed with you?
I was very proud to include the pitch for Emma’s debut literary memoir, BREAKING WAVES (a celebration of women, storytelling and water-based practices from around the world), in our agency rights guide at LBF this year. Since then, the full manuscript has been requested by a range of editors across the big 4 and various indies. I can’t wait to see where it lands! It’s been a real privilege watching the book evolve and witnessing Emma grow into her writerly voice. Emma’s now working on her second book, which also centres oral histories, community, and communing, only this time it’s all around tea (fun fact: Emma is a certified ‘Tea Champion’).
What's your top tip for anyone looking for an agent?
Answering these questions has made me reflect on how well Emma and I have gotten to know each other over the past year. The author-agent relationship is so much more than contracts, admin and proof-reading! To me anyway, it’s a far cry from the purely transactional. It’s professional and it’s personal so ensuring you get along on a human level is VITAL. Where possible, meet in person as early as you can to gauge each other’s vibes and energies. If a call/video chat is your only option, don’t shy away from talking about your expectations as this will help establish useful boundaries from the start.
Edwina joined Mulcahy Sweeney Associates, the literary agency of MMB Creative in 2021 after completing her MA in East Asian Art History at SOAS.
Edwina is French-Korean and grew up in Tokyo and Hong Kong. She moved to the U.K to study English Language and Literature at Oxford University in 2016. Despite speaking several languages, English, her adoptive mother tongue, is the only one she actually enjoys for e-mail. She is fascinated by the relationship between language and group identity – are we what we say and how we sound? To try and answer such questions, she hops between her schooling in Dickens, Camus and the rest of the canonical lot, and contemporary writers interested in cross-cultural exchange and interaction.
She loves stories centring on relationships and group dynamics and will read anything promising answers to the question of belonging (a start will do). Her current authors write literary fiction, crossover genre fiction (the more hyphenated, the better), family sagas, narrative non-fiction and self-help. If you have a campus novel, you’ll grab her attention instantly.
Emma is a wild swimmer and life-long hobbyist writer specialising in narrative non-fiction. Having spent a couple of decades being distracted by a career as an air traffic controller and experiencing two life-wrenching events, she rediscovered her pen and her passion for storytelling at the same time as discovering how transformational cold-water swimming was for her health, wellbeing, and sense of connection with the world. Trained in coaching psychology, she combines her years as an observer of human behaviour in high stress environments with her love for listening to people’s tales around the shores of a lake, mug of steaming hot tea in hand. She holds these stories with great care and trust as she reflects on the great oral storytelling traditions of our past.
Her current book is an exploration into the primal powers of femininity and water; with stories gathered from around the world, they demonstrate the power of connection and humanity in an increasingly crazy society. Emma lives in the South of England with her firefighter husband and two incredible teenage daughters, who she learns from every day.
Is your writing ready to take the next step and get feedback from an agent? Join us at the the next Byte the Book Virtual Agent Tables on 21 June 2023.
I was privileged to have an early insight to Emma’s 1st 4 Chapters and it is brilliant! Cant wait for the published full story!!