2022: A round-up of the year at Greyhound from Charlie Campbell
Writing a round-up of the year on 20th December is a little like choosing the player of the match in football or rugby when there are minutes to play and the result is in the balance. Our industry is as Christmas-obsessed as a toddler and there are still trading days left. Millions of pounds will be spent in bookshops in the next few days and we won’t know until January just what has sold and for how much. Then the real planning starts.
In January this year we launched Greyhound Literary – the agency where I hope to end my career (in a good way). Sam Edenborough joined us as rights director and co-owner, after a lot of planning. He had sold our clients’ books in translation over the last eight years with his wonderful colleagues at ILA. Now with him in-house, we sat down to plan for our first book fair together at London. As well as our own authors, we are delighted to be handling translation rights for Nicci French (with whom Sam has worked for twenty years), the UK’s oldest independent publisher Duckworth Books and two of the finest US agencies, Regal Hoffmann and the Cheney Agency.
Sam and I were due to see over a hundred publishers from all around the world in back-to-back meetings in the Ivy Club and then the International Rights Centre at Olympia. This was the first in-person book fair in two years, after all. We had some terrific books to pitch – our agency highlights included AP Firdaus’s evocative novel about the Indian Partition, Remember Mr Sharma (Sceptre, 2023) and Ian Moore's hilarious, bestselling crime series that begins with Death & Croissants (on behalf of Farrago/Duckworth). Then we had a recent submission – a family memoir by a Ukrainian journalist and translator, in which she investigated the disappearance of her great uncle in the 1930s, as the Russian army invaded the Crimea in 2014.
Victoria Belim’s The Rooster House was one of the sensations of the London Book Fair, with UK & Commonwealth rights being acquired by Virago in a seven-way auction and North American rights sold to Abrams Press. Sam has sold it in sixteen languages to date. Virago will publish this moving and important book in May next year and it has been a career highlight. We are incredibly proud to be its agents.
Over the summer, we saw paperback success for Michael Holding’s landmark and prizewinning look at racism in sport, Why We Kneel, How We Rise (Simon & Schuster), and Bella Mackie’s debut novel How to Kill Your Family (The Borough Press), which reached number one in the Sunday Times list. (We no longer represent the author but are proud of the book and its deserved success – it has just been named the UK's fifth bestselling title of 2022).
Our children’s books highlights include the second title in Beach’s brilliantly funny picture book series, The Knight with the Blazing Bottom; Fiona Longmuir’s gripping middle grade debut The Museum of Emily; and Carnegie-winning Anthony McGowan’s The Dogs of the Deadlands (Rock The Boat/Oneworld), which was hailed by broadsheet reviewers as a modern classic.
There has been plenty of activity on the book-to-screen front, with numerous books being optioned – thanks to the peerless Emily Hayward-Whitlock and her colleagues at the Artists Partnership. And in September filming began on Berlin Nobody, the adaptation of Nicholas Hogg’s Tokyo Nobody (Swift Press, 2023). Scott Free Productions relocated the action to Berlin in an otherwise faithful rendering of this thriller, with Jordan Scott writing and directing and Eric Bana and Sadie Sink taking the title roles.
Autumn saw the release of Alan Rickman’s diaries, Madly, Deeply. Canongate put on an extraordinary and moving launch event at the BFI in which his friends and fellow actors reminisced, while clips of his greatest screen moments were shown. The diaries shot into the bestsellers list on both sides of the Atlantic and numerous translation deals followed at a very successful Frankfurt book fair. After Frankfurt we headed to Crossing Border festival in The Hague where we saw Bez and Lias Saoudi perform – both represented by our colleague Natalie Galustian and published by White Rabbit. There we heard Dutch author Philip Huff read from his powerful new novel Wat je van bloed weet (What You Know of Blood) and we are thrilled that we will be representing it in translation, including the English language, on behalf of his publisher Prometheus.
Back in the UK, we celebrated the launch of SJ Bennett’s Murder Most Royal (Bonnier Zaffre). This is the third in Sophia’s crime series in which the late Queen solves crime with her aide Rozie Oshodi. It is the best yet and its warmth, humour and affectionate portrayal of the monarch have delighted readers all around the world. UK sales of the series passed the 200,000 mark and Sam struck yet more translation deals, taking us to 21 languages in total.
Our colleagues Charlotte Atyeo, Natalie Galustian and Julia Silk have been wonderful to work with, as always. We are delighted that PR supremo Dotti Irving joined the agency in the autumn as a literary agent and we are very excited to see what she will do. We remain incredibly grateful to our authors who entrust their work to us. One of the highlights of 2022 was doing new deals for the first and second clients I ever took on.
We look forward to 2023, which brings publication of a raft of exciting new books by our authors including Marchelle Farrell’s nature memoir, Uprooting (Canongate), Edward Brooke-Hitching’s Love: A Curious History in 50 Objects (Simon & Schuster), and Jennifer Lane's debut YA novel, The Black Air (UCLan).
The best advice we received when launching Greyhound was to ‘have fun’. We will.