Zeno Agency Ltd is a London-based literary agency specialising in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. We are also expanding into other genres, such as crime and thrillers, women’s fiction and young adult fiction. Authors seeking representation should refer to our submission guidelines. We represent a top-drawer range of authors, both as primary agent and in association with a number of well-known agencies abroad. Our list comprises major brand-names, high profile award winners, talented debut authors and prestigious literary estates.
Founded in 2008, the company is solely run by John Berlyne. 2016 saw Louise Buckley join the company and she is currently an Associate Agent. Zeno is a member of the Association of Author’s Agents and an affiliate member of SFWA. In late 2019, we welcomed Kristina Perez as an Associate Agent.
For Rights and Permissions, please refer to the individual client pages or contact us directly through the usual channels.
John is currently CLOSED for submissions.
Essentially I’m a sucker for a good old plot-driven narrative. To break this down further, I like books in which things happen to people (or monsters, or aliens or whatever) – in which a character is faced with a problem and in which the meat of the novel is about them solving that problem. For me, good fiction is about forward momentum and the plot is the engine that should drive a story onwards. There are infinite variations and riffs on this classic approach and seeing them reinvented time and again is one of the great pleasures of reading.
I’ll happily consider all kinds of fantasy and SF – but anodyne Tolkien derivatives will be given short shrift and I can spot ‘em a mile off! I like cool monsters and heavy magic and I like books in which magic seeps into contemporary life. Neil Gaiman does this kind of thing beautifully but please don’t send me Gaiman derivatives either – be inspired by brilliant writers, but don’t try to replicate their work.
I’ll read Urban Fantasy, but note that I’m not the ideal target demographic for this kind of stuff so I’m only looking for the highest quality material. Given the level of competition, anything less than exceptional will be bounced back to you. I’ll gladly read YA stuff – if you can ignite my sense of wonder, lost so long ago, buried beneath a black mountain of cynicism, then I’ll get the drinks in! And I’ll read space opera, horror, and thrillers and crime and historical fiction and combinations of all of the above – surprise me! And if it helps you further to target your submission, don’t send me political treatise disguised as fiction, or anything too whimsical or stuff that purports to be funny but isn’t. And read our submission guidelines!+
Louise is currently CLOSED for Submissions.
I have been an agent since 2016, but prior to this I was an editor at Pan Macmillan and Dorling Kindersley. I am actively building my list of authors and read across most genres, but I am particularly keen to see submissions in the following areas:
Women’s fiction – I enjoy anything that asks important questions, tugs on my heartstrings or transports me to exotic locations. I am notlooking for erotica or overly sentimental romance.
Crime fiction – I love a good whodunnit or even a whydunnit. I am especially keen to see well-written crime fiction with a strong sense of place, for example something like The Dry by Jane Harper.
Thrillers and psychological suspense (though I am less keen on the male-oriented action adventure stories). Recently enjoyed reads in this category include Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney and Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.
Literary fiction – I like books that pose bold questions and big themes yet have characters you care about. I also love authors that question what it means to be human.
Historical fiction – I love stories that focus on a little-known but fascinating person’s life, e.g. something like Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. My favourite periods of history represented in fiction are the Tudor/Elizabethan periods, the Victorian period and the first half of the Twentieth Century.
Science fiction – particularly dystopian fiction/anything with time-travel/high-concept twists/SF in a real-world setting. Recently enjoyed SF reads include The Giver by Lois Lowry, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
Fantasy – I enjoy fantasy in a real-world setting and books that have a hint of magic. For example, books like The Nightcircus by Erin Morgenstern or The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I also enjoy reading YA fantasy authors such as Sarah J. Maas.
I am also curating a small, bespoke non-fiction list. I am particularly keen to see authors writing in the following areas: cookery and food; health & lifestyle; popular history – particularly social history; popular psychology and sociology; biography/memoir; nature writing; true crime; parenthood.+
Kristina is currently CLOSED for Submissions, but will open in early 2020.
I was born and raised in the Big Apple by an Argentine dad and a Norwegian mom, speaking three languages at home. My love of languages and travel led me to move to Paris when I was seventeen with my grandmother’s cat – and I’ve barely stopped moving since. My other great love is all things Arthurian and I completed my PhD in Medieval Literature at the University of Cambridge before switching gears and heading to China to work as a journalist. I have held positions at the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong, and in recent years have published several YA novels (the Sweet Black Waves trilogy and The Tesla Legacy) as well as nonfiction (The Myth of Morgan la Fey). I am currently based in London where I am engaged in a constant battle with my neighborhood foxes.
With my diverse background, my tastes in books are equally eclectic. As an author myself, I am an editorial agent and enjoy polishing manuscripts until they shine like the top of the Chrysler Building! I am actively building my list in the following categories and particularly encourage submissions from BAME and marginalised writers.
YA – I love retellings with a twist, whether it be contemporary or fantasy, especially LGBTQIA+ and those that draw on non-Western folklore and mythology. Pitch me light sci-fi in the vein of Illuminae and Once & Future. I’m an unabashed musical theatre geek so send me all of your contemporary YAs that feature backstage drama, RomComs that make me laugh like Kasie West or Nisha Sharma, and lyrical coming-of-age stories like Katie Cotugno’s How to Love. I have a real penchant for novels-in-verse. I’m also a fan of chilling ghost stories and, dare I say it, vampires. If you write historical fiction like Stacey Lee or Elizabeth Wein, then send it my way. Basically, I’m open to all genres within YA so surprise me!
In addition to fiction, I will consider YA nonfiction proposals in all subject areas.
MG – Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series is what made me fall in love with reading as a kid and I’m eager to find fantasy for younger readers. Other all time favorite middle grade reads are the historical novels, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I would like to see a MG novel-in-verse like The Moon Within by Aida Salazar. Other recent favorites include The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko, and The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes.
Fantasy – I love lush historical or secondary world fantasy like Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. Feminist retellings like Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker will steal my heart. I am open to excellent Urban Fantasy with complex female characters. Show me a magic system that I haven’t seen before. My Argentine side loves magical realism in all forms from Practical Magic to Like Water for Chocolate. And witches, always witches.
Romance – I absolutely adore well-researched historical romance in any time period and I prefer spicy to sweet, especially with a feminist bent. I would love to rep a F/F historical romance. Recent favorite reads include The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite, and Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore. For the moment, I’m not looking for contemporary but I will consider paranormal.
Science Fiction – A great dystopian will keep me glued to my seat but there needs to be something new and unique about the world. I’m a huge Battlestar Galactica nerd and have a soft spot for light space opera. I’m not the right agent for hard/military SF.
Nonfiction – I am primarily looking for current affairs, cultural history, and popular science. If you’re an academic who can write like a journalist, I want to hear from you. Think Latinx by Ed Morales.
Having lived in China/SE Asia for almost a decade, I am particularly interested in history/contemporary politics books on those regions. I want this decade’s version of China Pop by Jianying Zha or Asian Godfathers by Joe Studwell.
I am also always looking for feminist criticism like Susan J. Douglas’s Where the Girls Are. I studied Art History at university and love biographies of female artists or models, such as Strapless by Deborah Davis.
I’d like cultural history projects along the lines of Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster by Dana Thomas or Alpha Beta by John Man. A biography on a lesser known female historical figure such as Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo will pop my cork!
Recent popular science I’ve enjoyed include: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, Inferior by Angela Saini, and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.+