InkWell is one of the world’s leading literary agencies, proudly representing major literary prize winners as well as many of the world’s bestselling and best-loved authors. We enjoy a considerable international reputation as a significant and innovative player in the industry.
In addition to its full-time agents and their assistants, the InkWell team includes a tireless foreign rights department and a meticulous contracts manager. We also join forces with leading literary agencies in every foreign market and have agents based in Australia, Boston, and Dallas. We continue to be excited by—and on the lookout for—original ideas, riveting stories and great writing.
Michael V. Carlisle began his career as a secretary in the literary department at William Morris Agency. Eighteen years later he left as a vice-president to start Carlisle & Company. Born in Paris, of Russian heritage, he graduated with honors from Yale College and holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School. The son of two writers, he brings a background of international law to his career. His best-selling authors have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pulitzer Prizes, The Man Booker Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award (fiction and non-fiction), the British Book Award, LA Times Book Awards, the PEN Award for first non-fiction, and the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; one even has an asteroid named for her. A former director of the AAR, a not-for-profit organization of independent literary and dramatic agents, and a member of PEN, and the Council on Foreign Relations, Michael heads the non-fiction program at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and serves on its Board of Directors. He also serves on the US Advisory Board of The London Book Fair.
Photo Credit: Miriam Berkley
I have spent my entire career representing authors who inspire me, helping them build wide, loyal readerships that are as inspired by their work as I am. My clients include a diverse group of novelists, journalists, and subject-specific experts whose ideas and narratives challenge, thrill and enrich readers’ lives and minds, including Andrew Weil, Susan Orlean, Erin Morgenstern, Arianna Huffington, Andre Agassi, Katherine Dunn, Susan Isaacs, Martin Seligman, Christopher Reich, Susan Cain and Donald Ray Pollock. I grew up on Long Island, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and now live with my family in Westchester County, where I spend ample time walking our dogs in the woods, thinking about books and the people who write them.
Kimberly Witherspoon, at age 26, founded her own literary agency, which quickly became one of the most prestigious and successful agencies in Manhattan, with clients who are frequently published around the world. Over the past 15 years, she has represented critically acclaimed and bestselling authors of both fiction and nonfiction, including: Kate Atkinson, Anthony Bourdain, Carol Cassella, David Chang, Susan Cheever, Cindy Crawford, Lena Dunham, Gabrielle Hamilton, Eloisa James, Lloyd Jones, Neil Jordan, Sophie Kinsella, Richard Marcinko, Peter Meehan, Julie Orringer, Arundhati Roy, Lionel Shriver, Lalita Tademy, and David Vann. She graduated from Brown University in 1984 with a BA in International Relations. She is a founding board member of The Bronx Academy of Letters, a member of the Authors Guild and the editor of two anthologies, including: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: Culinary Catastrophes From the World’s Greatest Chefs.
Stephen Barbara began his publishing career as an editorial assistant at a big-five publishing house, and later as the contracts director of a boutique agency. Since 2006 he’s been a full-time literary agent, and he joined InkWell Management in January of 2015. Over the past twelve years Stephen has worked with a number of distinguished authors, including New York Times and international bestseller Lauren Oliver, USA Today bestseller and World Fantasy Award nominee Paul Tremblay, Newbery Medal winner and New York Times bestseller Laura Amy Schlitz, National Book Award nominee Lisa Graff, Printz Honor awardee Susann Cokal, acclaimed children’s author Minh Lê, bestselling nonfiction authors Aja Raden, Eleanor Herman, and Tom Venuto, and (through Glasstown Entertainment) actress Krysten Ritter, activist Dylan Farrow, and New York Times bestselling fantasy author Sara Holland, among others. Stephen is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he studied English language and literature, and he was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. He is drawn to bold, fresh concepts, distinctive prose, and engaging storytelling, across all categories.
Lyndsey Blessing started her career in publishing in 1995 as an intern in the subsidiary rights department of Grove/Atlantic. She has since worked at the literary scouting agency Maria B. Campbell Associates, rising to Senior Scout and Deputy Director, a position she held for four years. There she worked closely with publishers from around the world, recommending American books for translation. She also lived in Europe for a number of years, working freelance in publishing in Paris and Berlin and teaching English for three years at Berlitz in Berlin. Lyndsey is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a BA in English and American Studies. She joined InkWell Management in 2009 as Co-Director of Foreign Rights.
William is agent and editor at InkWell Management. He represents writers from a range of disciplines and backgrounds.
Claire Draper studied Queer Diversity in Children’s Literature at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. While a student, she interned at Rare Bird Lit, InkWell Management, and the Children’s Book Council. Originally from Southern California, she misses the beach and In-n’-Out more than possibly imaginable. She's put down roots in Brooklyn and enjoys heading to the park to read queer young adult fiction, graphic novels, body positive memoirs, and the latest collection of feminist essays.
Catherine Drayton graduated from the University of Sydney with a BA in English Literature and a Bachelor of Laws. After graduating from the University of NSW with a Master of Laws she worked as a litigation lawyer specializing in copyright and libel law at a major international law firm. But novels, not legal precedents, were always top of her reading pile so in 1998, after a brief stint as a literary scout, she joined Arthur Pine Associates which subsequently became InkWell. She represents a wide range of fiction from around the world for both adults and children as well as some non-fiction on subjects that intrigue her. Her bestselling and award-winning clients include Markus Zusak, Beth Hoffman, John Flanagan, Becca Fitzpatrick, Gavriel Savit, Cath Crowley and Karen Foxlee. Many of her clients are published in multiple territories and sold for film. She particularly loves working with debut authors and is looking for writing that is memorable and enduring. Catherine is InkWell’s Sydney affiliate and when she isn’t reading, she can be found swimming, surfing, hiking and cooking for family and friends.
David Forrer began his career in publishing in 1997 after receiving a Masters in Creative Writing (fiction) from Boston University. He has been an agent with InkWell Management since it was created in 2004. His areas of interest and representation range from literary, commercial, historical and crime fiction to suspense/thriller, humorous non-fiction and popular history.
Claire Friedman joined InkWell in 2016. Originally from Salt Lake City, Claire spent three years working for her local indie bookstore, The King’s English, before moving to New York to attend Columbia University. Claire graduated with degrees in English and History, and continues to have stress dreams about the core curriculum. Prior to joining InkWell, Claire interned at Don Congdon Associates. She enjoys reading literary fiction, young adult and children’s books, and narrative non-fiction.
A native Michigander, Emma Gougeon moved to New York in 2016 to begin her career in publishing at Georges Borchardt, Inc. She joined InkWell as the Foreign Rights Associate in 2018. Emma has her BFA in English and French from Kalamazoo College, as well as graduating from the Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford University. A fluent French speaker, she also spent a semester studying at the École Supérieure de Commerce in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Her tastes run across the board, so long as it pulls at her heart strings (although she has a particular fondness for French authors).
Alexis Hurley started her career in 1998 and has been at InkWell since its inception in 2004. Alexis works in the dual capacity of Co-Director of Foreign Rights and agent of domestic works in the areas of literary and commercial fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction and more. She is a native of the Berkshires and a graduate of Dickinson College where she received her BA in English and Art History and a minor in Italian.
Nathaniel Jacks joined InkWell Management after graduating from Columbia University with a BA in literature. Among the books he represents are The Birth of Cool by New Yorker contributor Nicola Twilley, The Heavenly Table by Guggenheim Fellow Donald Ray Pollock, American Hookup by sociologist Lisa Wade, Ph.D., The Code of Trust by behavioral expert Robin Dreeke, and Broad Influence by TIME Washington correspondent Jay Newton-Small. He is excited to work with ambitious authors whose books enlighten everyday life, demystify systems, explore the mind, question the status quo, and empower self-improvement. He also oversees contracts at InkWell.
George Lucas co-represents authors in North America on behalf of a number of London literary agencies and publishers, including Profile Books. He turned to agenting in 2003 having spent over a decade as an editor, part of a seventeen-year transatlantic publishing career that had taken him from packing books in a rural English warehouse to nurturing thriller writers for towering New York conglomerates. Among many others, he represents New York Times bestselling authors Lynne Truss, Kate Mosse and Simon Garfield, Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, as well as the Literary Estate of P G Wodehouse.
Michael Mungiello graduated from Georgetown University, where he studied Government and English. In the intern years, he worked for Lippincott Massie McQuilkin and Dzanc Books. He also spent a semester working in his college’s English Department as a teaching assistant for a course on Jewish American Literature. His tastes run toward intellectual histories, psychologically-minded social studies, and stylistically innovative literary fiction. His interests include jazz, classical music, Abstract Expressionism, and many, many other interesting things.
Jessica began her career interning everywhere from Writers House to Open Road Media and joined InkWell Management in 2017 after working in foreign rights at Janklow and Nesbit for two years. She has a BA in English: Creative Writing from Binghamton University and a MS in Publishing degree from Pace University. Her interests include but are not limited to: women’s fiction, cookbooks, crafting and do-it-yourself books, multicultural and LGBTQIA+, children’s and young adult fiction.
Jacqueline Murphy has been engaged in acquiring and shaping important ideas defining the global business culture for nearly two decades. Most recently as Editorial Director at Harvard Business Press, Jacque collaborated with leading experts and heads of industry including Chuck Knight, Charlene Li, Howard Gardner, Cathleen Benko and Tom Davenport. Prior to Harvard Business Press, she held senior-level editorial positions at Perseus Books, Bloomberg Press and John Wiley & Sons. Her interest and expertise is in developing breakthrough concepts for wide impact and broad appeal. She’s acquired and edited bestsellers such as The Cluetrain Manifesto by Christopher Locke, et al., Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, and Iconoclast by Gregory Berns. Jacque is InkWell’s Boston affiliate.
Kelly Oden graduated from Butler University, where she studied English Literature and Ballet. Prior to joining InkWell, she worked in foreign rights and contracts at ICM Partners and shelved books at Strand Bookstore. Kelly is interested in literary and speculative fiction that is timely, psychologically acute, and/or darkly funny. She would love to get her hands on a provocative feminist dystopia, an empathetic family saga, or an introspective exploration of life in a digital age. Her general interests include the American Dream, figuring out how to survive a social media apocalypse, and cooking elaborate meals.
Charlie Olsen started his publishing career at InkWell in 2007 and has been building his client list since. He is interested in fiction, children’s books, graphic novels and illustrated works, and compelling narrative non-fiction. Prior to Inkwell, Charlie studied print journalism at Rider University, covered a beat at a newswire in the District of Columbia, and wrote for two newspapers in New Jersey. He works with award-winning graphic novelists, including New York Times bestseller Matt Kindt, New York Times bestseller Jeff Lemire, and National Book Award finalist Noelle Stevenson; distinguished children’s book authors including New York Times bestseller Andrea Cremer, Amy Ewing, and Gus Gordon; and also represents non-fiction—both illustrated and traditional prose—like Whisk(e)y Distilled by Heather Greene (Viking, 2014); a book about the seven would-be assassins of Queen Victoria called Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy (Pegasus,2012); and The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assassination by Dan Mishkin, Ernie Cólon, and Jerzy Drozd (Abrams, 2014).
Prior to joining InkWell, Eliza Rothstein worked for The Susan Golomb Literary Agency. Her interests include literary and commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction, memoir, popular science, and food writing. Eliza studied Comparative Literature and Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course. She is also a founding member of City Readers, a nonprofit organization committed to providing books for public and charter schools in New York City.
David Hale Smith is looking for mind-blowing commercial fiction and compelling nonfiction. Prior to joining InkWell in 2011, he operated his eponymous literary agency in Texas, which he started just a few years after graduating from Kenyon College. His fiction list includes thriller phenom Matthew FitzSimmons, and The New York Times Bestselling novelists Greg Rucka and Blake Crouch, author of the smash genre-bending hit Dark Matter and the multi-million selling Wayward Pines trilogy (adapted into the FOX television show of the same name, with Crouch is Executive Producing). In nonfiction, Smith represents acclaimed culinary authors Jordan Mackay, Daniel Vaughn and Robert Sietsema; Top Chef stars John Tesar and Isaac Toups; and New York Times Bestsellers Skip Hollandsworth and barbecue superstar Aaron Franklin. Smith enjoys developing projects from concept to finished book, and is active in selling film and television rights for his clients, making numerous annual trips to the West Coast to pitch projects to managers, agents and producers. He lives in Dallas, Texas and commutes to New York.
Jessie Thorsted joined InkWell Management in 2017 as the Royalty and Accounting Assistant. She earned her BA in English Literature from Arizona State University and her MA in English from Northern Arizona University. Before coming to InkWell, Jessie interned at Liza Dawson Associates and worked for Strand Book Store. She enjoys reading young adult literature.
Kristin van Ogtrop, the former editor-in-chief of Real Simple, has joined InkWell Management as a literary agent. Under her stewardship, Real Simple became the #1 American women’s lifestyle magazine brand with a print and digital reach of 25 million and was nominated for 15 National Magazine Awards. Kristin’s blog, “Adventures in Chaos,” was nominated for a Media Industry Newsletter “Best of the Web” award, and in 2014, she was named by Fortune magazine as one of the “55 Most Influential Women on Twitter.” She is a contributor to the New York Times bestseller, The Bitch in the House and the author of Just Let Me Lie Down, published by Little, Brown. As an agent, she will represent memoir, commercial women’s fiction, humor, lifestyle and big idea books driven by counterintuitive thinking.
Maria graduated from University College Dublin with a BA in English and Drama then obtained her Masters in Modern Literature from the University of Edinburgh. With bright-eyes, she moved from Dublin to New York in the hopes of pursuing a career in publishing. Before joining InkWell, she worked as a Foreign Rights Assistant at Janklow & Nesbit and interned at Akashic Books. Maria enjoys literary fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, as well as non-fiction, revolving around peculiar or overlooked facets of society.
Jenny Witherell, Business Manager, is a graduate of Simmons College in Boston where she received a B.A. in English and Economics. She received her M.B.A. from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Before joining InkWell, she worked in investment research. She has also coached collegiate rowing.