Conference 2011 - A perfect match
Report published 23 September 2011
Elizabeth Chadwick & Carole Blake: ‘A Perfect Match’ or ‘Longer than most marriages…’
It’s the happy-ever-after story we all long for – Elizabeth Chadwick was plucked from top literary agent Carole Blake’s slush pile in 1989 and the two have worked successfully together ever since. In a highly entertaining double act, Carole explained how Elizabeth’s submission impressed her so much she broke all her own rules, including sending out The Wild Hunt to potential publishers before she’d even met the author. Elizabeth described the whirlwind events that swept her from working in a supermarket to receiving a literary award from HRH Prince Charles.
Of course, it’s never quite that straightforward.
The Wild Hunt wasn’t the first novel Elizabeth had written but her eighth: ‘I saw the rejections as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks’. Robert Maxwell died at an inconvenient time and complicated things in the already shifting landscape of the publishing industry, while at another point historical fiction hit the doldrums. The writing career that Carole helped Elizabeth to develop was one of ‘slow build’. Shrewd business sense – ‘Never sell world rights to one publisher’ – tactful negotiations – ‘It’s about managing expectations’ – and a united agent–author front ‘Talk to each other before the publisher so you’re both on the same page’ – have all contributed to Elizabeth becoming a bestselling author of 21 books.
However the underlying message is that like all enduring marriages, a lot of hard work and good communication – ‘a two-way dialogue all the time’ – has been key to the success of the relationship. And – the essential ingredient – having a great deal of fun along the way.
Written by Josephine Warrior