How to write an original, prize winning book

Our November speaker is Jessica Leeke, editor at Simon & Schuster. We were delighted to be able to speak to her this week and ask her the following quick questions:

1/Please could you give us a quick biog.

After a spell in a New York ad agency, I started publishing at Bloomsbury in 2005 before moving to Simon & Schuster in 2008 where I am currently Senior Commission Editor. I publish literary fiction, historical fiction, and fiction with reading group potential. Myauthors include current Richard & Judy author Lisa Genova, Sophie Hardach (Waterstone’s 11) Lloyd Shepherd, Benjamin Wood, Catherine Jones, Wendy Wallace, Enid Shomer and Lydia Netzer. I also work with Philippa Gregory, Tom Rob Smith and Alice Hoffman. I was shortlisted for the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize in 2011.

2/What is your job description at Simon & Schuster?

As Senior Commissioning Editor my job is to help develop and shape our fiction list, with a particular emphasis on literary fiction with book club and prize potential plus commercial appeal, and spearhead the publishing of stunning new talent.

3/What are you working on at the moment?

Some incredible debuts: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood, and The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace. I’m currently editing Lloyd Shepherd’s second novel The Poisoned Island.

4/What are you looking for at the moment?

Something new. Something that will make me drop everything, take the afternoon off, and read it in one gulp. Something that I can’tcompare to other bestselling authors because it’s completely original.

5/What book/author do you wish you’d published?

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

6/Which author would you invite round for tea?

Nicholson Baker, or Harper Lee, or Joyce Lankester Brisley, this is too hard, I could go on forever…

7/What top tip would you give to an unpublished author?

Think about joining a writing group. You’ll receive more frequent feedback,  get used to constructive criticism, and in critiquing other writers you’ll get more familiar with spotting your own mistakes.

Join us for our November event and learn exactly what makes a book ‘original’ and ‘new’. And how your book can have ‘prize potential’.

Date: Tuesday, November 22nd

Time: 7.00pm-9.00pm (speaker on at 7.30pm with q and a following ’til 8.30pm, then a chance to mingle and ask some one-to-one questions)

Clerkenwell House 23-27 Hatton Wall. EC1N 8JJ

Price: Advance tickets are £10, tickets on the door are £15.

Click here to buy your advance ticket

* Members are entitled to free entry and you can also introduce a friend to the club with their first club night free – just let us know.

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