Pat Kavanagh (Jan. 31, 1940. – Oct. 20, 2008) 2

This Ben Leto blogged ’tribute’ to the recently deceased literary agent Pat Kavanagh says a great deal more about the woman’s character than many of those that were written by those whom she represented.

Right to the very end, and at a time when she probably she had had a starry enough band of literary giants to take care of, she, if Leto’s blog is to be believed, was taking an active interest in newcomers, doling out advice with the no-nonsense generosity she’d been showing to writers for the last thirty of so years.

Pat Kavanagh, the noted UK literary agent, has died aged 68 from a brain tumour.

There are a great number of authors currently paying tribute to her no-nonsense, informal and direct manner. I encountered this first hand when I submitted my novel to her earlier this year, kindly referred by my university tutor who she had represented for several years. She responded within a matter of weeks, praising the submission having evidently actually read it, and though she did not take it on, explained quite clearly why and recommended in a not at all general way how I could proceed.

For a first time author trying to get published I can’t tell you how surprising it was to encounter a prospective agent who had not only demonstrably read at least most of what you’d sent them, but congratulated you on it as well, taking the time to write to you personally. Her advice and encouraging tone, in only a brief letter, gave me a huge confidence boost for something I was increasingly losing all hope and interest in. It was enough to carry on, refreshingly different from the usual nameless template rejection letters, exactly three months since submitting each and every time, my manuscript always returned as pristine as I had sent it without so much as a dogeared page.

I find it an uncomfortable thought that at the time she replied to me, she was entirely unaware of the condition that would take her life in only six months time. It’s very sad to think that there is one less individual in the world of that character, and particularly in an ‘industry’ more and more orientated towards its ‘market’ and less towards the individual people that make that market up.

Stuff no longer posted to the Pete Atkin Web Forum.

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