Carole Blake and I

alison-morton-with-carole-blakeI can reveal a secret. Carole Blake often told a story of the pitching pest anonymously. The day after it happened I wrote a post called Pitching at Parties. Yes, dear reader, “Sensible and Savvy Agent” was Carole and “Sensible and Friendly Author” was me. Wild horses tearing me apart in the arena will not make me reveal the identity of “Desperate and Determined Author”,  but she is a real person.

I first saw agent Carole Blake ‘across a crowded room’ at a Romantic Novelists Association party two years before. Of course, she was one of the great and the good of the publishing world with the accompanying glamour. Like every newbie, my dream was to be represented by her agency, Blake Friedmann, but there wasn’t a hope in hell of that happening. At the next party, I managed to exchange a few words with her – just general chat. I remember her being very gracious.

At the Festival of Writing in York (I think it was 2011) Jo Cannon and I were in the bar and found ourselves invited to join Carole’s group who were in a corner full of cushions and chatting over a drink. I had my first lengthy conversation with her; we talked history, Romans, manners and writing. I was flattered to receive her full attention while she talked to me; this was one of gifts.

As I met her at events, we talked more and between times Tweeted and Facebooked. I did submit my writing to her, but as she was taking on very, very few new clients, I was perfectly (nearly perfectly) reconciled that my work was not for her. And once that submitting tension was over, our friendship grew. When the Roma Nova books first appeared, she complimented me on the jewel-like covers (produced by SilverWood Books) and said she was following my career in self-publishing with great interest.



At the 2014 Historical Novel Society, we went swanning off on a boat down the Thames – it was a terrific trip and although it threatened to, it didn’t rain.


Later, round the Museum of London. I did pity the young guide who wasn’t used to an erudite bunch like Carole, Elizabeth  Chadwick, Diana Gabaldon, et al. Elizabeth as an unofficial guide round the medieval exhibits was the best you could have. I chipped in a bit about the Roman stuff…

img_3407Collectively, our group of around fifteen historical fiction writers probably knew more history than he would ever learn.

Immersed in the publishing industry, Carole was a keen watcher of trends. As indie publishing was becoming stronger, I (the keen indie author) invited her on to my blog in 2014 to tell us why authors needed agents. And she did!

When I needed some advice, Carole and I met at Browns for a drink before going to David Headley’s History in the Court last September. After some very convivial chatting, I asked her what I should do next in a certain situation, and she said, “Well, we’d better handle it for you”. I said “Okay” and that was it. Blake Friedmann would take on handling my foreign, audio and other ancillary rights. It was going to be an experiment for Blake Friedmann representing an indie author; she said she relished it.

This wasn’t the culmination of some long winded strategy or game plan; this was two friends agreeing to work together. Oh, and she said she *loved* INCEPTIO and had bought all the others in the series. I would have given her copies, but she insisted on buying them and playing fair. And that just about summed her up.

Pub_collab_panelHearing her speak was always an education; anecdotes, common sense, advice and jokes. When I found myself on the same publishing panel as her at the Romantic Novelists Association this summer, I was not only flattered, but knew I had arrived.

I mourn her. There will be no more Facebook posts, tweets, emails or calls, no more convivial drinks, nor words of kindness and hard common sense, no more trenchant but clever guidance and no more jokes. She believed in me; that was a huge gift and one which I will always treasure.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO and AURELIA. The fifth in the series, INSURRECTIO, was published in April 2016.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines…

18 comments to Carole Blake and I

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.