After a degree in French I ran a business for several years, providing a range of copy writing and editing services. My love of books and an interest in writing led me to freelance for a number of literary agents, including one of the most commercial agencies in London as well as a specialist children’s agent.

Submissions are the life blood of publishing but many need further work and development. I really enjoy the editorial side of agenting and am endlessly fascinated by writing – what works and why.

I met Caroline while working as a reader and in-house editor for Christopher Little. When the opportunity arose to set up Hardman & Swainson it was too good to miss.

Growing up I read an unhealthy number of Agatha Christies and hard-boiled detective novels and I love crime fiction from both sides of the Atlantic. After school, while travelling through France and Spain and living in a tent, I read all the novels of Charles Dickens. So I guess I’ve always been a bookworm.

What I’m looking for:
I read widely and aim to reflect that in the authors I represent. In fiction, I’m looking for complex, larger-than-life characters. Dolores Price in She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb, is so brilliantly portrayed I sometimes forget I’ve never actually met her. Amy in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl – like her or loathe her, she’ll stay with me forever.

Some of my favourite recent reads are Melissa Harrison’s At Hawthorn Time, Ali Smith’s How To Be Both, Lissa Evans’ Crooked Heart and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven (didn’t want it to end!) Kate Atkinson never fails to entertain me. It’s a lot to do with humour and heartbreak.

I love crime and thrillers at both ends of the commercial / literary spectrum. I’ve recently been enjoying C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series and I’m always on the look out for a hero like Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole. I found Caroline Kepnes’ You addictive; other recent crime thrillers that stood out for me were Susie Steiner’s Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown.

I also love a good ghost story and accessible speculative fiction, as well as a bit of horror.

Whatever the genre, whether literary or commercial, for adults or children, historical or contemporary, thriller or crime, I’m looking for originality and distinctive voices. I especially like fiction threaded with humour – not necessarily of the laugh out loud kind, it’s often much subtler than that, but you can’t have too many arresting observations and insights.

On the non-fiction front, I enjoy narrative non-fiction, especially popular history and science. I’m very partial to a memoir. I also enjoy nature writing.

While it’s all very well drawing up a wish list, ultimately I’m a fisherman. So send me what you’ve got. Take me by surprise, and keep on surprising me. I’ll know what I’m looking for when I see it.

NB: Please do not send submissions to Joanna’s email, but send to, marking it for Joanna’s attention. Thank you.