Cover Stories: Edinburgh Book Festival; Hodder strengthens fiction list; Random House recruits

The Literator
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The Independent Culture

With the Edinburgh International Book Festival in full swing, this week has brought the good news that Maggie McKernan - founding publisher of Weidenfeld's Phoenix House imprint, midwife to much Celtic talent, and to Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy - has set up as a literary agent. Having announced her intentions, the shy McKernan headed off with her children to the South of France. McKernan left her job this summer, bowing to the clash of professional demands and family needs in the wake of the tragic death of her husband, the agent Giles Gordon (above), who worked from their home in Edinburgh. McKernan is "delighted to be doing what I do best, working closely with writers and representing their interests with passion".

Suzie Dooré, the respected fiction buyer for Waterstone's, has been poached by Hodder to strengthen its fiction list. Her move follows that of two other senior bookselling figures into publishing. Jenny Heller, non-fiction buyer for Waterstone's, joined Collins; Borders' Mel Yarker joined the sales team at Ebury.

Random House CEO Gail Rebuck's summer idyll will have been marred by news that Victoria Barnsley, her opposite number at HarperCollins, has poached two of her staff in a reorganisation after the departures of Caroline Michel and Michael Fishwick. John Bond, the MD of HarperPress, has appointed Clare Smith to head its fiction list. He has also poached Paul Baggaley to be publisher of the paperback list, HarperPerennial. Rebuck now has two posts to fill at a time when everyone agrees that there's a talent vacuum, so it's handbags at dawn.