Saturday, April 14, 2018

Westwood Creative Artists, Canada's largest literary agency

Westwood Creative Artists
The Chelsea Shop
386 Huron Street
Toronto, Ontario

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Westwood is Canada’s largest literary agency. It’s also one of the oldest and most respected. Clients include Mark Sakamoto, Justin Trudeau, Thomas King, Alan Doyle, Rosemary Sullivan, Kyo Maclear, Karma Brown, and Hannah Mary McKinnon (who many Quick Brown Fox readers will know from classes and workshops over the years).  There are six agents on the team, all immensely experienced: Carolyn Forde, Jackie Kaiser, Michael A. Levine, Hilary McMahon, John Pearce, and Bruce Westwood.

Carolyn Forde, Literary Agent and International Rights Director
Carolyn Forde has been at Westwood since 2005 and has been a shareholder since 2010.  Carolyn has a B.A. Hons in English Literature and History from Trent University (year abroad at Liverpool Hope University), earned a Postgraduate Certificate in Publishing Sciences from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, and completed the Simon Fraser University Publishing Intensive course in Vancouver. She has lived and worked in Japan, Mexico and the Czech Republic and is a dual citizen of Canada and the UK.
When she’s not reading submissions referred to her by her authors or digging in the slush pile for a gem, she’s usually cuddled up with her cat or exploring Toronto and beyond with her husband.
Carolyn says, “I am looking for books that I can’t put down. In fiction I’m either so absorbed with the world and the story or so affected by the language and characters that I’ll stay up past my bedtime. I like books that feel like treats, not work. I know I’m onto something when I want to press a book into the hands of my friends saying, ‘You must read this,’ because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will love it.”
Carolyn loves literary fiction and fiction with a commercial bent, psychological thrillers, women’s fiction, literary horror, crime, and whimsical almost-fantasy books. “I’d love to find some indigenous authors too, as I don’t think we hear their voices enough,” she says. She is not looking for military or CIA inspired fiction, climate thrillers, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, romance, erotica, poetry or humour.
In nonfiction, says Carolyn, “I like an unusual tale in memoir, a book that I can learn from, also something from an expert in a field on a current issue, and narrative nonfiction that expands the reader’s world. I’m not looking for memoirs about illness (not because they aren’t valid but because I don’t like to read them). The writing and the story are both paramount.”
Carolyn is particularly interested in books with an international appeal.
Query Carolyn at:
Include the word “query” in the subject line. See Westwood’s full submission guidelines here.

Jackie Kaiser, President and COO
Jackie says that while she’s not taking on many new clients these days, she’s always open to being wowed. She’s also more likely to be interested in nonfiction. But Jackie also represents “a small carefully curated roster of children’s authors and illustrators and would love to make room for another exceptional author-illustrator.”
Query Jackie at:
Include the word “query” in the subject line. See Westwood’s full submission guidelines here.

Michael Levine, Chairman
At Westwood, Michael’s talents are focussed not only on book deals, but also on the sale of rights for TV, film, and other media.
“My passions, taste and expertise are largely focused on nonfiction,” says Michael, “including history, politics, ideas books, memoirs. I have also been privileged to do work in the fiction area with such authors as the late Mordecai Richler.”
Query Michael at:
Include the word “query” in the subject line. See Westwood’s full submission guidelines here.

Hilary McMahon, Executive Vice President
“Now that I have a robust client list I’m very selective about taking on authors, “says Hilary, “but I still love the thrill of discovering a new voice. I’m particularly proud of the authors I’ve nurtured since the beginning of their careers, such as Susan Juby, Susin Nielsen and Carrie Snyder. I love narrative nonfiction that makes me look at the past and the present in a new way; that engages my curiosity and provokes contemplation and discussion. Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnston, The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray and Empire of Deception by Dean Jobb are recent highlights.”
In fiction, Hilary is drawn to compelling and unique voices and fresh stories that provoke a strong emotional reaction, whether it’s laughter or tears. She’s always hunting for those crossover literary/upmarket fiction titles that are perfect for word of mouth success, such as The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake.
She’s also open to realistic, accomplished, middle-grade and YA.
In nonfiction, Hilary wants the singular project that only that author has the authority, skill and perspective to deliver, whether it’s a memoir like Juliet’s Answer, an expose like Jacques Poitras’ Irving vs Irving, or a cookbook like Lucy Waverman’s Flavour Principles.
Query Hilary at:
Include the word “query” in the subject line. See Westwood’s full submission guidelines here.

John Pearce, Literary Agent
John is taking on only a handful of new clients, but he’s always on the lookout for that special new discovery.
In both fiction and nonfiction, John looks for a distinctive voice, vivid story-telling, insightful characterization and scintillating prose. If the book has the potential to win awards or attract film deals, all the better.
“I love working with journalists; historians; biographers; I also love memoir, popular science, humour, travel and Big Ideas,” says John. “What I respond to is the combination of the author’s passion for the subject and their ability to write about it engagingly.”
In fiction he leans towards novels that are literary but narrative-driven; also to high-quality mysteries, thrillers/suspense, historical fiction and young-adult novels. No romance, SF or fantasy. No short-story collections. No children’s books. And in nonfiction, no books of practical advice.
Query John at:
Include the word “query” in the subject line. See Westwood’s full submission guidelines here.

Bruce Westwood, Founder, Managing Director, and CEO
Bruce Westwood has been in the business for 22 years. He’s still always on the lookout for literary fiction, commercial fiction, narrative nonfiction, “and,” he says, what one might call current events (business, politics, industry, government, etc. Really any sociological nonfiction. My tastes are extremely broad (except when it comes to rosé, garlic, and roasted lamb).
“While I represent a very limited number of children’s authors, the rest of my clients are pretty evenly split between writers of fiction and nonfiction – and some that cross that divide with aplomb.
Query Bruce at:
Include the word “query” in the subject line. See Westwood’s full submission guidelines here.

Literary agent Paige Sisley
If you’re interested in getting published, soon or somewhere down the road, don’t miss the How to Get Published workshop with literary agent Paige Sisley, Saturday, August, 18, in Collingwood (see here).

And if you’re interested in Writing for Children or for Young Adults, you’ll want to sign up for the mini-workshop on Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Waterloo with Simon & Schuster children’s editor Patricia Ocampo, literary agent Barabara Berson (who specializes in YA) and Young Adult author Tanaz Bhathena (see here). 
On Sept 22, Brian Henry will lead another mini-conference in Oakville with Yasemin Uçar, Senior Editor at Kids Can Press, and also a Kid Lit workshop in Sudbury sometime in the fall – details of these events still to come.  

For updated listings of Writing for Children & for Young adult workshops and for weekly Kid lit classes, see here (and scroll down).

Yasemin Uçar, senior editor,
Kids Can Press 
And don't miss: Writing With Style, Sunday, April 29, in Brampton (see here).  Writing Your Life on Saturday, May 5, in Burlington (see here), and Saturday, June 23, in Mississauga (see here) and  Writing and Revising, Saturday, May 26, in Oakville (see here).

For the spring, there are still spaces available in the Welcome to Creative Writing course Wednesday, afternoons, April 18 – June 13, in Burlington (see here). Other weekly spring classes are all underway, but watch for postings about summer courses soon.

To reserve a spot in any workshop, retreat, or weekly course, email

Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Navigation tips: Always check out the labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. Also, if you're searching for a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post.

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