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Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

Today we're delighted to welcome Assistant Publisher Kay Farrell to the blog. We're open to unsolicited fiction submissions until June 30th 2021, so we asked Kay for further information on what she's looking for.

As a reader and editor both, my first love is speculative fiction – a term I’m often asked to define as it can seem ‘fuzzy’. What I mean by it is any work with literary merit set in an imagined world, be that the future or an alternative reality such as in The Man in the High Castle. This submission round, I’m extremely keen to see speculative fiction with strong writing. Give me your alternate histories, your imagined futures, your hint of the supernatural.

Much as I love speculative fiction, in any fiction I read I’m keen to be taken somewhere new – to me, at least. That can be a real place, such as the amazing depiction of Oman in Jokha Alharthi’s spectacular Celestial Bodies, or an imagined place such as the future Paul Braddon creates in The Actuality. It can even be a completely fresh perspective on an otherwise familiar setting – something that challenges the way I think about something I thought I knew is always a delight. Own voices stories are particularly welcome.

Couple imagination and world building with strong, believable characters and you’re well on your way to having a winner. As a writer, understand that the kiss of death is a reader saying, I just don’t care what happens to these people. That’s not to say you have to have likeable characters: one of the best characters ever written, in my opinion, is Becky Sharp who is hard to like but extremely compelling – far more so than the more loveable Amelia with whom she shares a book. If that suggests that I’m looking for well-written female characters, good. I am.

Intriguing and well-developed settings. Strong characters. And a plot which keeps me turning those pages. If your book has all of these things, I can’t wait to read it.

If you're planning to submit your work to us this June, please familiarise yourself with the books we publish to check that your work is suitable for us, and read The Red Pen, Publishing Director Moira Forsyth's self-editing series on our blog, to ensure that your text is in the best shape possible. Visit our submissions page for full details.