The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
I love this book so much. It’s about turning the ordinary of every day life into the extraordinary, and universally meaningful. Rachel Joyce really understands humanity and has got to the heart of human relationships and that need for fulfillment. (I might actually start crying as I write thinking about it again). It’s about the small moments in life that we all experience, which change the course of our existence. I remember sitting down to read it, it took me five hours and I didn’t move from the moment I started to the moment I finished.
I’d love to see books like this in my submission pile. Stories about ordinary people where the emotion of the story and the shared human experience elevate the story into something beautiful.
Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
This took me a whole weekend to read but for a 900 page book that’s quite quick. Ken Follett has this skill of telling an amazing story without making you feel like you’re reading a long book. I’d go as far as to say that this is like reading a thriller but it’s a sweeping historical novel. Again, it’s about very small people who make a very big difference. It’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever read and I can see why it’s become a national treasure.
Like Pillars of Earth I’d love to find a book that brings that contemporary thriller feel to an historical story and gives a great sense of the motivations and internal realities of the people.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Paul Torday
This is another book I read in one sitting (there’s a theme here…). It’s about belief and wanting to make things happen (which ties into Pillars of the Earth now I think about it). This is a love story between a man and his country and it’s about the lengths people will go to achieve the impossible and the power of collective belief in something. As the reader you’re invested in the characters’ motivations and justifications for what they want to do and you’re right there with them, rooting for them to succeed. It’s absolutely brilliant storytelling.
I’d love to see something that absorbs me in a character’s quest as wholeheartedly as this did. I want to feel like I’m there, believing they can achieve it against the odds and celebrating with them when they do. I want to be completely transported to the world of your characters.
Before I Go To Sleep – SJ Watson
On the 3rd September 2010 I sat down to read a bound manuscript for a book which was to become one of the biggest selling psychological thrillers of recent times. I remember the exact date because I remember exactly where I was, and again, I read it in one sitting. The voice is incredibly compelling and I needed to know what was going to happen to this woman who couldn’t remember who she was, where she was, where she was from or where she was going. The story was exciting – there’s no better word for it. The reading experience was thrilling.
Psychological thrillers are big news right now, they may not continue to be as big as they are but they’re one of those perennial genres which are always published and always popular so I don’t think they’re going away completely. But, to succeed the story has to do something new and surprising and the writer has to be able to conjure a unique and engaging voice. That’s what I want to see.
If you think your book would appeal based on what I have written I’d love to hear from you. Please do follow my submission guidelines and I look forward to reading your work.
Submit to David: Submission@dhhliteraryagency.com
Follow David on twitter: @Davidhheadley