Hellie Ogden

Literary Agent

Hellie represents fiction, children’s books and non-fiction and enjoys novels with bold storytelling, moving prose and vivid, thought-provoking characters. In non-fiction she is looking for unique personal stories, campaigners, memoir and nature writing, cookery, lifestyle, and work that has a social following with cross-media potential. As an editorially focused agent, she has a keen interest in helping to develop and nurture debut writers. Follow her on Twitter @hellieogden.

Hellie featured in the Bookseller Rising Stars List and was shortlisted for the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize. She represents a number of Sunday Times bestsellers and award winning writers across genres. She often speaks at writing conferences and mentors debut writers.

I’m incredibly hands on editorially, and I love to help shape a piece of work from the very rough idea through to a polished, original manuscript. So I’m looking for a few special, standout books every year that I can pump my energy into, I keep my list small, and I’m happy to receive manuscripts even when just at a rough stage – that really excites me. I work extremely closely with our New York office and translation rights team in building international careers for my clients.

The books on my list often tackle big themes with a strong, fresh voice – novels that make you really feel something. Favourite authors include Maggie O’Farrell, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Graham Greene, Liane Moriarty, Isabel Allende, Sarah Waters and Philip Ridley. I’m on the lookout for warm, quirky love stories as well as a new crime series with a protagonist that you want to come back to again and again and psychological or high-concept thrillers with big ideas and daring twists. With historical and literary fiction I’m always open to original, courageous ideas and love seeing a time/place/person in a new light. I’m proud to represent a list that is conversation-starting, diverse and eclectic.

I love those books that hit the reading group sweet spot – upmarket, but with a clever commercial hook so something like WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? which has real flair and heart. Or QUEENIE for its pure joy and painful honesty. I thought WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING was extraordinarily good and I’m often drawn to family stories, and writing that is sharp, witty and warm. I read broadly, literary through to commercial, and in a bookshop I will hunt for moral complexities, unusual twists and prose that will floor me emotionally and challenge me too. I always want to be transported out of my comfort zone and to feel genuine emotional depth in the pages I read. I never tire of the mother/daughter dynamic, and now raising two young girls myself, that feels particularly acute. I’ll forever enjoy work that celebrates women.

On the YA-side it’s stories with a big heart and voice that tackle the often messy side of growing up. Books like THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS and HEART-SHAPED BRUISE. When it comes to middle-grade I’m open to all sorts, but I have a real love of adventure mixed with magic, and I read on repeat Eva Ibbotson, or something eccentric and mad and outrageously fun. I will always hunt out books that make me cry like THE BOY AT THE BACK OF THE CLASS.

I also focus on finding standout cookery/lifestyle writers and moving narrative non-fiction projects. I was in awe of Dolly Alderton and her debut EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT LOVE, Emilie Pine’s NOTES TO SELF and the extraordinary Candice Brathwaite’s I AM NOT YOUR BABY MOTHER. We of course have excellent contacts across different media platforms.