Jon Curzon (pictured with gorge) has been working at Artellus Ltd. since 2016. He is a graduate of English Literature and alongside his role at Artellus works as a freelance editor. As agent for Artellus Ltd. he represents authors of both fiction and non-fiction, handling domestic and international rights. Jon also works with Artellus co-founder Gabriele Pantucci reviewing English literary releases for the Italian press. We spoke to Jon about his work and literary tastes.
Jon, how did you get into publishing and end up working with us here at Artellus Ltd.?
After university I applied for around 50(!) publishing internships over months and months. I finally got one with an agency, where I read submissions mostly. That agency had a connection with a literary consultancy, which I then got involved with, going on to build a portfolio as a freelance editor/literary consultant. Then I just saw the Artellus Ltd job advertised – on Indeed… It wasn’t exactly to do with the agency side explicitly, more of an admin role. But with some hard work, perseverance, and support from Leslie and Darryl I’ve managed to build my own list over the years.
Over lockdown, what have you been reading? Any good escapist recommendations?
I don’t know if I’ve done that much escaping, to be honest! We’ve been working from home pretty much as normal – perhaps even more so. Mostly I’ve been escaping through the submissions. I haven’t stopped reading for pleasure entirely; if I had to pick a top 3 it’d be ‘Dinner with Edward’ by Isabel Vincent (a charming, true story of a neighbour befriending an elderly widower), ‘Blue Ticket’ by Sophie Mackintosh (I loved ‘The Water Cure’) and – a real discovery – ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole, which quickly became one of my favourite ever books.
When it comes to classic literature, which books have you got no time for?
I never finished ‘Jude the Obscure’. And when I say ‘never finished’ I mean didn’t get beyond the first chapter. But I don’t read many classics really – I was quite bad at school (and uni too, being honest) and used Sparknotes a fair bit.
Which books or authors do you wish you could have represented?
I would have liked to have represented someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald, just to have exchanged cool letters that would one day be part of an archive… I guess that’s emails now though, right? Or maybe a controversial book for its time, like ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’.
And when it comes to your work now, what are you looking for in the submissions pile?
In submissions, I’m looking for literary fiction; I’m a big believer in first lines. Usually the voice and style of writing within that space says if I’ll like something. Then non-fiction from big ideas to monographs to memoirs to history – anything really that catches the eye and is well-written!
And so to conclude: a favourite novel opening?
I’d say my favourite is Sylvia Plath’s opening of The Bell Jar…
‘It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.’
Jon Curzon is an agent for Artellus Ltd. and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For this post he spoke with colleague Angus MacDonald.