‘A life-affirming story that is nostalgic, charming and utterly unique’

Helen’s story began with a truly original, marketable idea in a credible yet creative setting

Helen Cullen, right, with her publisher Jessica Leeke

Helen Cullen, right, with her publisher Jessica Leeke

If the charmingly diffident William Woolf presents as a most unlikely fictional hero, his creator Helen Cullen is his opposite in every way. Helen’s impressive reputation reached us at Penguin before a single line of her prose. “Her idea for book two is even better,” said one of the eight agents seeking to represent her. “She works for Google,” was a detail that bounced off her CV and into the conversation – in “strategic marketing”. And so the buzz began before the novel even landed in my inbox.

We are used to reading between the lines of our industry’s enthusiasm for the new and shiny, and for an editor, the quiet acquisition of a seemingly overlooked talent can be as exciting as winning that seven-publisher auction. At Penguin we’re passionate in the belief that a story can start anywhere, and it’s vital that writers of any background and professional experience know our door is open to them.

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