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, 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.
A literary agent since 2006, Stephen Barbara represents high-quality books for young readers as well as select adult fiction and nonfiction. His list of award-winning and bestselling authors includes Lauren Oliver, Laura Amy Schlitz, Lisa Graff, Lexa Hillyer, Paul Tremblay, Todd Strasser, Lynne Jonell, Leila Sales, Jack Ferraiolo, Aja Raden, Eleanor Herman, Ricardo Cortés, and Sam Munson, as well as the companies Paper Lantern Lit and The Story Pirates, among others. Stephen grew up in New Haven, Connecticut and graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in English and literary criticism in 2002. After working briefly as a freelance writer and reviewer, he spent three years as Contracts Director of the Donald Maass Agency, and six at Foundry Literary + Media, as agent. In January of 2015 he joined InkWell Management, where he is always on the look-out for great projects, especially distinctive speculative fiction.
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 Callahan is agent and editor at InkWell Management. He is from Iowa.
Claire Draper studied 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, and the Children’s Book Council. Originally from Southern California, she misses the beach and In-n’-Out more than possibly imaginable. She is a recent transplant to Crown Heights, Brooklyn and enjoys heading to the park to read literary fiction, young adult sci-fi/paranormal and young adult fiction.
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.
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 graduated from Columbia University with a BA in literature. He represents a variety of writers and is also InkWell’s contracts manager. He welcomes submissions in many categories including memoir, narrative nonfiction, social sciences, health, current affairs, business,religion, and popular history, as well as fiction (literary and commercial,women’s, young adult, historical, short story, among others).
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.
Rebecca Nicolasa Mbanugo is the Foreign Rights Assistant at InkWell Management. Having long been in love with books and interested in different cultures, she is ecstatic to now serve in a role that perfectly unites the two. Originally from Los Angeles, she earned her BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2013 and moved to New York a year later to study publishing in the M.S. in Publishing program at Pace University. She has worked in enrollment services and both worked and interned at museums in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Before joining InkWell, she completed an editorial internship at Writers House. She enjoys reading literary fiction, science fiction, and poetry and is particularly drawn to works in translation and stories that cross genres and explore the experiences of migration and exile in compelling new ways.
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.
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 Cartoonist’s Studio Prize-winner Noelle Stevenson; distinguished children’s book authors including New York Times bestseller Andrea Cremer, Amy Ewing, Zoë Ferraris, 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).
Liz Parker joined the publishing industry in 2007 as an editorial assistant at Viking Penguin before moving over to the scouting firm, Maria B. Campbell Associates. A Connecticut native, the west coast bug hit her hard enough to move to San Francisco, and Liz enjoyed a three year stint as Counterpoint/Soft Skull’s publishing director before admitting that she missed New York City. Now back and happily nestled in Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her girlfriend and two dogs, Liz is thrilled to join Inkwell’s ranks, and is looking for commercial and upmarket women’s fiction and narrative, practical, and platform-driven non-fiction. While Liz reads everything under the sun, she finds herself ever drawn to the beach read.
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.
Emma Schlee studied German Literature at Oxford. From there she went on to do a series of publishing internships in London before moving to New York and joining the InkWell team. She is interested in contemporary German fiction writers whose work would translate well for an American audience. In English, she is interested in literary fiction and non-fiction in the areas of travel and adventure, the environment, cultural criticism, and philosophy.
David Hale Smith is looking for mind-blowing commercial fiction and compelling nonfiction across a wide area of interest. Prior to joining InkWell in 2011, he operated his eponymous literary agency in Texas, starting just a few years after graduating from Kenyon College. His fiction list includes New York Times Bestselling novelists Michael Koryta and Greg Rucka; Edgar Award-winner Theresa Schwegel; and internationally bestselling genre-bender, Blake Crouch. Smith is very active in selling film and television rights for his clients. In nonfiction, he represents such authors as acclaimed culinary writers Daniel Vaughn and Robert Sietsema; barbecue superstar Aaron Franklin; photographer Tadd Myers and award-winning Texas journalist Skip Hollandsworth. An Eagle Scout, he was the co-chairman of the 2014 John Wayne Film Festival and served on the board of directors of arts and education-focused nonprofits Educational First Steps and The Dallas International Film Festival. Smith lives in Dallas with his wife and two daughters.
Lauren Smythe joined InkWell in 2010 and became an agent in 2013. She represents, and is actively seeking, narrative nonfiction (narrative journalism, modern history, biography, cultural criticism, personal essay), practical nonfiction (cookbooks, fashion and style), and literary fiction. She is drawn to great sentences, smart humor, outsider perspectives, and arguments that are passionate and precise. (Submissions should include a sample chapter, please.) A graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School, she grew up in Indiana and now lives, predictably, in Brooklyn.
Before moving to New York, Corinne Sullivan studied English with a Creative Writing Concentration at Boston College, where she graduated in 2014. She then received her MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College, graduating in 2016. During that time, she interned with Weinstein Books and Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency before coming to work at InkWell Management. Corinne lives with her boyfriend in Long Island City, where she spends her free time reading voraciously and writing her own fiction.
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.
Monika Woods began her publishing career working for Ellen Levine at Trident Media Group after graduating from the Columbia Publishing Course. Her interests include literary and commercial fiction, and compelling non-fiction in food, popular culture, science, and current affairs. Some of her dream projects include historical fiction about feminists, the Roma, and Maxim Lieber, darkly suspenseful stories (both true and made-up) with unreliable narrators, anything about Poland and its history, nonfiction that is creatively critical, and above all, novels written in a singular voice. Monika lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and two cats and can be found writing about the book she just finished at www.booksijustread.com or @booksijustread.
Raised by writers, Lena Yarbrough grew up devouring books and writing her own fiction. Prior to joining InkWell, she worked at Janklow & Nesbit Associates. Though her literary tastes are broad, she is primarily interested in literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, history, investigative journalism, and cultural criticism. Originally from California, she has also lived in Tennessee, Poland, and Boston, but is happiest calling Greenpoint, Brooklyn home.