This month we ask John Wordsworth from the Zeno Agency to share what is on his submission wishlist.


Hello, I'm John Wordsworth. As a commissioning editor I ran a science fiction, fantasy and horror list and, before that, a crime one. In the spring of 2014 I joined the Zeno Agency as a literary agent.

Alongside our numerous bestselling and award-winning authors, Zeno works with respected and established literary agencies all over the world, representing their clients in the UK and Commonwealth. We are best known for our high-end commercial genre fiction. Our clients include Ben Aaronovitch, Brandon Sanderson, Aliette de Bodard, Peter V. Brett, Ian McDonald, and William Gibson.

Personally, I have a particular interest in the areas of speculative fiction that overlap with the mainstream. I wouldn't rule any high-concept novel in that area, so long as the narrative is the star of the show. As for more core titles of science fiction and fantasy, I'm especially interested in epic and heroic fantasy, space opera which is easy on the tech, and science fiction with a clean 'what if' premise. Again, the narrative is key for me. While I of course appreciate interesting worlds and complex characters, without a story they are but dust in the wind, dude. (Sorry.)

As a teenager I read an unhealthy amount of horror and I'm pleased to see that this genre seems to be making a comeback. I'd like to see more of it, especially if plays on real, human fears and doesn't rely solely on gore.

If it helps, my favourite genre authors include Stephen King, Joe Haldeman, Iain (M.) Banks, Kurt Vonnegut, Octavia Butler and Richard Matheson. Some of the recent titles I've enjoyed, off the top of my head and excluding any authors I've worked with, are Ready Player One, The Heroes, Bird Box and The Girl with All the Gifts.

Find out how to submit to John here: