The agent is young, warm and friendly. She met me at Paddington, then we claimed a corner of a Brasserie, ordered high tea, and spent two hours talking about my book. I explained Borrowed Time wasn't a project I had really had confidence in, and she said, 'that's OK because I have confidence in it'. She knew the characters, told me what she liked and where I could improve it, and with a few simple strokes, laid out how I should develop it. She loved all the historical strand (which I have had criticisms about) and wants me to put more emotion into the rather hastily sketched ending. She was pleased that I had another project in hand and interested in the next book in a series involving the characters in Borrowed Time. There is one other thing she was quite certain of. I can't call it Borrowed Time.
As I went home, I started to think about what to call it, exactly, because I liked the name. I have always envisaged one of my characters, Pierce, looking like Phil Davis, the actor. He has just played a character in a film called - guess what? Borrowed Time. Well, I got the character looking right, anyway! New name, coming up. Everything else she said is also spot on, I've already made some of the same changes she suggested.
She asked about my life, and I found myself chattering away, swapping kid stories and house stories, and even talked about other clients and their books. I came away with an agent, a warm hug, a feeling that we were going in the right direction and very positive messages about publication. I haven't written a genre novel at all, I was told, but an intelligent read for reading groups.
It was all easy, because as many clever people have said, she already liked the book. Those manuscripts of the Mslexia shortlisted books got mulled over and read by a lot of experienced publishing people, editors as well and agents. After everything I've read about how hard it is to get an agent (and it is) I had a great experience. I will now settle down to getting the book ready for my agent to pitch my book at the London Book Fair. Wow.