Assistant to James Wills
Helena does not accept submissions.
After a very short career as an actor, I began working in the world of publishing at a book subscription company in 2021, and soon learnt that working with books and stories is what I love. I joined the Watson, Little team in 2022 as the assistant to MD James Wills and work very closely with him on his list. Although I am not accepting submissions, I am reading James’ daily, and am always on the lookout for new talent. A clear, one-line pitch will always catch my attention when reading submission emails (as well as a killer hook or unforgettable characters).
At present, I am very keen to find some zesty debut female authors within the crime and thriller space. I’m looking for writing that is intentional, vivid and compelling. I love domestic suspense and complex characters – think The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell and Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. I’m also a huge fan of authors who blend genres in a tactful way to create something a little different – think Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater, Yellowface by R.F Kuang, and How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie.
I also love reading female focused and upmarket book club fiction. Books that start conversations and draw out a reaction in me (laughter, tears, tearing hair out), or have a distinctive and unpretentious voice will speak to me. Narratives with high stakes, that take you on a surprising journey through relationships we all relate to – friendships, families, first loves, power dynamics. Novels that I can’t get out of my head include The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld, and Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood.
In terms of non-fiction, I love to read memoirs that teach me about a moment in history. A recent favourite is Free by Lea Ypi where we learn about Communist rule in Albania through the eyes of a small girl who lived through it. I will always want to read about food, and I love writers who draw on food as a pathway into memories – Laurie Colwin, Jay Rayner and Nigel Slater.