Early in 2012, Literary Agent Jodie Marsh at United Agents took on Rebecca King’s young adult novel, The First Dance and the Last. TLC is particularly delighted about Rebecca King’s new status as she was selected by New Writing North for her high quality writing and granted an assessment via The Literary Consultancy under the Arts Council Free Reads Scheme.
The novel, set in 1914-15, it tells the story of sixteen-year old Lucy, in love with her sister’s fiancé, whose parents are keen for her to become a débutante with the aim of having her married off. After seeing the world-famous company of the day, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Lucy dreams of carrying on her schoolgirl ‘fancy dancing’ lessons and becoming a ballet dancer. She begins to put these dreams into practice, secretly discarding her ballroom lessons for ballet lessons – and finding herself in a new, fascinating, seedy world. More and more, this bohemian world jars with her comfortable middle-class existence, and Lucy must choose between them. Amongst all of this, Lucy enters a relationship with an unusual concert pianist – as Britain enters war with Germany and is not only Lucy’s own world which is thrown into turmoil.
Rebecca had the TLC assessment with Jane Purcell in December 2011 and found representation by an agent already in early 2012, but the book is the product of many years. She writes, “I had begun writing the book whilst at university, and after having put it aside during my Honours years, resumed writing after graduation and was very lucky to be offered a TLC Free Read through New Writing North. My reader was Jane Purcell – whose work I had heard on the radio! – and her feedback was encouraging, sensitive and perceptive. She understood completely the kind of book I was writing, and none of her advice went against the grain. Her comments really made me look at the book afresh and I actually found that I became ruthless even beyond the tweaks she had suggested. I found an agent three months after receiving my TLC report and the feedback certainly helped me to acknowledge the stronger and weaker parts of my novel and to be confident that the re-draft I then offered to my agent was strong, marketable work.”
We wish Rebecca all the best with her book with United Agents.