I made a very brief appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year. I was selling rights, a first for me: I fear that I have a great deal more to learn before I am properly initiated into this particular black art. Agents seem to me mainly to be inscrutable ladies of a certain age who have an elliptical view of the world accompanied by an unerring sense of authority. Publishers and authors alike are subjected to the same beady headmistress scrutiny. Intriguing.
One of them told me that she thought that authors should always avoid introducing minor characters into the first chapter of a novel. It’s not something I’d really thought about before, but my shoot-from-the hip (although polite) response to her was that I do not believe that all novels should be constructed in the same way or follow a standard set of rules. Any views?