Lucas Alexander Whitley Ltd (usually abbreviated to LAW) was founded in 1996 by literary agents Mark Lucas, Julian Alexander and Araminta Whitley. In 2001 Philippa Milnes-Smith joined the agency from Penguin Children’s Books to create a children's and young adult books department.
Our agents are proud to have represented a substantial number of clients for many years and bring together a broad and highly complementary range of passions and expertise. We are a full member of the AAA (Association of Authors’ Agents). We can offer bespoke consultancy services and our agents are regularly invited to speak at conferences and other events.
I like big stories both in fiction and non-fiction and I love books with real heart. I like smart ideas and elegant writing – especially when they combine to form a book you can describe in one sentence. I have an eclectic list that includes fiction and nonfiction and I also handle publishing deals for IP owners of all kinds.
We asked Mark Lucas, founder, agent and chairman, to introduce the agents and the rest of the LAW team.
Rather than leaving Mark to introduce himself, this is what others have to say about him:
‘Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, sport, history, autobiography, Mark is an exceptional agent, someone who is both a brilliant negotiator - brokering the right deal for both author and publisher (so both think they've got the best of the bargain!) and a principled, clever editor, with a meticulous eye and an ability to coax the best out of his authors until a script is as near perfect as it can be. He works hard - too hard - and, at the same time, makes the process enjoyable. What is even more remarkable is that ML is as enthusiastic about writers and publishing now as when I first met him back in the dizzy days of the 1980s. There's no one with whom I'd rather work - and know all his clients feel the same! Viva LAW!’
Kate Mosse, Author
‘I’ve known Mark for more than half my lifetime. The awful truth is he’s an ace agent, someone who can turn base metal into gold by a combination of a sharp editorial eye and a remarkable ability to talk up a book project.’
Patrick Janson-Smith, Publisher, Blue Door, HarperCollins
Araminta has a keen critical and commercial eye across a broad range of genres, and combines editorial acuity with a level of energy and discipline that borders on the terrifying. She’s smart at spotting great business stories and finding brilliant, sweeping historical epics as well as building top talent in women’s fiction – and getting her books to Number 1 in China. She loves a challenge and has a natural flair for brand development and marketing. Both a tough negotiator and a sparkling hostess, she’s a vital weapon in the LAW armoury.
Managing Director and Children's and Young Adults
Philippa’s passion for children’s books began, perhaps unsurprisingly, in childhood. Reading then was a rich blend of fantasy, adventure, and ghost stories. She’s still looking for exciting writing for all ages, both commercial and literary, particularly work that translates well into film, television and other media.
Her best job before heading up LAW was running Penguin Children’s Books; her worst was cleaning industrial deep-fat fryers in a motorway service station. She won’t say which prepared her most effectively for agenting, but will admit to owning a paperweight emblazoned with the words: Diplomacy – the art of letting someone have it your way. Printable adjectives her authors have used to describe her range from ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘exciting’ to ‘outwardly respectable.’ She’s a past president of the Association of Author’s Agents.
I joined The Soho Agency earlier this year after 17 years in the industry – 15 of those in agencies. My taste is wide ranging – I read and represent everything from the most commercial women’s fiction and domestic suspense to accessible literary novels and moving, inspiring memoirs. Whatever I am reading I want to be swept up, desperate to return to the world of that book and its memorable, convincing characters.
I love women’s fiction in all its guises – from contemporary romance and romantic comedy to tightly plotted crime novels featuring strong female leads and compelling reading group fiction. I love it when a novel hits on a nubby moral or emotional issue (for me it’s all about throwing up conflict for the key protagonist in a way that resonates with a wide readership) or explores a period of history I know little about (particularly if the story centres around family drama and/or female characters). I like stories that are epically romantic, ultimately uplifting or outrageously funny. I enjoy reading an unreliable narrator and/or a first person story with lots of foreshadowing. Any stories featuring single or solo parenthood and non-traditional families will be right up my street too.
Books I have recently enjoyed include Susie Steiner’s latest Manon novel, After the End by Clare Mackintosh, Expectation by Anna Hope, Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams, Those People by Louise Candlish, Run Away by Harlan Coben, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming, Notes to Self by Emilie Pine and With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix.
When I am not reading I can be found in the kitchen, running (slowly) in the countryside, tending my new veg plot and trying – often failing - to find time for the cinema, theatre and all things cultural. All with a toddler in tow.
As of July 2018 Alice is not accepting any new submissions, her list will re-open again next year.
Alice has an insatiable appetite for storytelling old and new. Her tastes are eclectic, her championship unstinting. She’s a fan of strong, passionate voices, dry, witty retorts, and – a particular treat in this digital age – retains a telephone manner that borders on the hypnotic. She’s always on the lookout for any excuse to spend more time with anyone and anything food related, explore new ideas and celebrate innovation, to work with those who push the envelope in any field, to lose herself in epic narrative of all kinds – and to find new ways of sharing works of genius with the world.
Ben is an agent at LAW and also works with Julian Alexander. His tastes range from the agricultural (he once worked on a farm where he had to do ‘some horrible things involving sheep’) to the culinary (he has eaten a lot of things, including sea urchins, out of politeness). Ben loves smart non-fiction of all kinds. His tastes are varied but is particularly interested in the areas of philosophy, history, memoir, technology, science, business, nature writing and developing IP. He gets excited when a writer comes at an idea from a bizarre and unexpected angle. He’s also a wizard with contracts.
Niamh works with Alice Saunders and Mark Lucas. She is drawn to books with heart and humour; thought-provoking writing and distinctive, compelling voices. Books she has loved recently include the Aisling series by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, Constellations by Sinead Gleeson, Educated by Tara Westover and everything ever written by Marian Keyes. She knows all (most) of the words to a high percentage of 90s and 00s RnB songs and tends to become very emotionally invested in whatever TV series she is currently watching, be that Spiral, Lovesick or Love Island.
Jamie came to LAW from bookselling and works with Philippa Milnes-Smith on both the children’s and YA part of the LAW list and helping with the efficient running of the office. His favourite genres include sci-fi, dystopia, fantasy (or any combination of these) and, whenever he feels brave enough, horror. His non-fiction interests are modern history, philosophy in small doses, and anything and everything to do with cookery. His other hobbies are baking, gaming, comic books, carpentry, and classic films. When not in the office, Jamie tries to train his dog to stop stealing shoes.