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Changes for Transatlantic as Haywood becomes president, new agents hired, and speakers’ division announced

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Samantha Haywood

Samantha Haywood

Transatlantic Agency co-founder and president David Bennett has sold his controlling interest in the business to agency partner Samantha Haywood.

Haywood, who joined the agency in 2004, has been a Transatlantic partner since 2013, and  was promoted to vice-president last April. Bennett will serve as chairman emeritus, with Lynn Bennett, the agency’s other co-founder, remaining as treasurer.

Transatlantic also announced an expansion of its roster, with the hiring of two new agents, Rob Firing and Marilyn Biderman.

Firing, who has spent the past decade negotiating speaking engagements around the world, will launch a new Transatlantic speakers’ division, representing both children’s and adult markets. The service – the only one of its kind headed by a Canadian literary agency – will negotiate speaking engagements for both TA authors as well as unsigned talent. Firing – the former senior director of publicity, communications and speakers’ bureau at HarperCollins Canada – has already signed Paulette Bourgeois (Franklin the Turtle) and HCC authors Karen Le Billon (French Kids Eat Everything) and Zarqa Nawaz (Little Mosque on the Prairie) to the agency. In addition to his role in the speakers’ division, Firing will also serve as a literary agent.

Firing’s hire is the result of longheld discussions around expanding Transatlantic’s speakers’ services, says Haywood. “It’s a natural fit for a big literary agency, because so many of our existing clients want to have more representation on the speakers side, as it naturally helps promote their books and their careers,” she says. “It’s a new growth area for us, with Rob Firing signing on a raft of dynamic new Transatlantic Speakers clients for straight speaking. And if some of those new clients are unrepresented on the book side, Rob is all set up to represent them for book deals as well.”

Biderman joins Transatlantic as a senior literary agent. She will close her own firm, bringing her current roster of authors, including Katherena Vermette (The Break), to Transatlantic. Marilyn Biderman Literary Management was established in 2010, following Biderman’s tenure as vice-president, rights and contracts, at McClelland & Stewart. While at M&S, Biderman sold internationally the works of authors such as Leonard Cohen, Alistair MacLeod, Anne Michaels, and Madeleine Thien.

According to a spokesperson at HarperCollins, its speakers’ bureau will continue to negotiate fees for Canadian authors out of its New York City headquarters. Publicity director Colleen Simpson will take over Firing’s other duties.