Philippa MILNES-SMITH (The Soho Agency – UK)

MG, YA and adult

Son of the Circus, September 2019, Scholastic (Historical Victorian BAME MG)

Amber Undercover July 2020, Oxford University Press (light-hearted adventure about a teen girl spy)

Emma has a BA (Hons) in Film and an MA in Screenwriting and her short stories for adults have been placed in various competitions (first place Reflex Flash fiction, Rhys Davis Award, West Sussex Writers), anthologies (NFFD, Reflex Press), as well as shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Award and longlisted for the S1 Leeds Literary Prize. She has also written five short books for reluctant readers, (Badger publishing).

Her first book was out September 2019, a historical MG commission, part of the Voices series by Scholastic. In 2020 she has three MG books coming out, with more news to be announced.

I’ve been writing for a very long time, and it’s taken me a while to get to where I am now. I started off writing short stories, but challenged myself to write a novel in a year. It took me over three years to get the YA MS agent ready before I submitted. I received two offers. Ultimately, although I received positive feedback, unfortunately it didn’t sell. However, several publishers liked my writing style and in September 2019, Scholastic asked me to be part of a series exploring BAME in historical MG. Both were new genres for me!

I’m spending 2020 working on another MG as well as looking at an adult psychological thriller.

Years ago I worked in publishing as an editorial assistant. I’ve judged Flash fiction competitions. I’ve been a very active member of both in person groups as part of my Screenwriting MA and also an online critique group called Scribophile. Two people I’ve closely beta read and provided feedback for (on multiple drafts) both now have agent representation. One MG debut comes out next year.

I love working with other writers! I love giving feedback and helping authors realise their own vision by asking questions that probe deeply and hopefully have them examine their work in a new way.

I have a particular interest in writers who might like to explore difficult issues and topics and a fondness for complex (even ‘unlikeable’!) characters, but in a realistic contemporary setting, ideally. I love history too though!

Middle Grade

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Historical
  • #ownvoices*

I just like to be surprised!


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)

I don’t pull any punches. I am a huge cheerleader, but my UK style and directness may not be for everyone…!

Someone who is ready to roll their sleeves up and appreciates just how much work might be involved in getting an MS ‘ready’, or as good as it can be. Someone who is happy to dig deep and maybe make cuts. Flexible. Passionate. Curious. Open. Thick-skinned.

Really voice-driven, and character-led MG. I’d love to LAUGH if that’s you – funny MG would rock and isn’t seen enough… Lots of publishers are desperate for this. But, I’m deeply interested in contemporary issues, I don’t shy away from ‘dark’, although an element of hope is always welcomed when writing for children. I prefer the upper end of MG too (if MG covers the age range of 7-12, then more towards 10+-14 is my jam) – friendships, parental issues, first loves/crushes – anything and everything!

I’m not really the mentor to sub anything fantasy or magical to, not because I’m anti any genre, but more because I’m unfamiliar with the genre expectations or what’s current and out there. With a film and Screenwriting background, my areas of strength are character, emotional resonance and dialogue, long world building descriptions can make me glaze over!

I have many different tastes in all sorts of areas. Love classics like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, but Stephen King was my go-to read as a teen. Raymond Carver and JCO probably all time faves.

Current faves: Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith.

Films: Varied, but I’d always watch these again if they were on TV: Taxi Driver, Thelma and Louise, Reservoir Dogs, The Goonies, Stand by Me, Lawn Dogs, Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Coen brothers, American Beauty, The Remains of the Day, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, West Side Story, 12 Angry Men, Heathers

TV shows: LOST, Breaking Bad, Party of Five, Mad Men, Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, The Wire, Sherlock, and Dracula that the BBC did this Christmas really impressed me.

I don’t write sci-fi myself, but adore watching and reading it