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WRITER: Excuse me, are you Ptolemy Trewlove, the famous agent?

AGENT: Yes. But I’m EXCEEDINGLY busy. I don’t know why Alicia let you into my office.

WRITER: She was at the same boarding school as me. (DUMPS PETER JONES’ PLASTIC BAG ON HIS DESK) Look, I’ve got this manuscript. You’ll love it. Mummy laughed so much when she read it that she spilled her G&T all over the labrador.

AGENT: It’s a comedy? Humour doesn’t sell at the moment. Unless it’s by Miranda Hart. Everybody loves her. (PAUSE) You’re not Miranda Hart, are you?

WRITER: No.

AGENT: Pity. I could sell a guide to the public lavatories in Tunbridge Wells, if it was by her. In fact (SCRIBBLES ON POST-IT PAD), I might suggest that to her agent.

WRITER: It’s not really a comedy. It’s about a nut case who can’t make up his mind.

AGENT: Mental health issues are in the news. But those kind of books don’t sell either.

WRITER: He’s more mixed up than crazy.

AGENT: Existential angst? Oh dear. Even harder to shift. Unless of course it’s by Stephen Hawking.

WRITER: There is a murder.

AGENT: That’s more promising. Crime’s a hugely popular genre.

WRITER: Actually there are bodies everywhere by the end. Poisonings. Stabbings.

AGENT: Tell me more. What about your setting? Crime fans demand atmosphere.

WRITER: It’s deeply sinister. Much of it takes place at night. There’s even a ghost.

AGENT: A ghost? Not bad. Though a really fit vampire would be better.

WRITER: No vampires, I’m afraid. But the love interest drowns herself. She’s a Danish girl. A hugely tragic figure.

AGENT: Nordic noir has flown off the shelves since the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I don’t suppose there are any divorced, reformed alcoholic detectives in it?

WRITER: Afraid not. Though there is a gravedigger. And a skull.

AGENT: That sounds vaguely familiar. (STUDIES SOME OF THE PAGES)

WRITER: (MIFFED) I hope you’re not suggesting it’s not my own work.

AGENT: (WITH SCORN) I’m afraid that not only are you guilty of plagiarism, but this writing is the most utter and complete tosh I’ve ever had the misfortune to read, Miss…

WRITER: The Honourable Lucinda Cholmondeley-Coutts, actually. Though in a few months I’ll be changing my name. I’ll be a royal then, what with marrying a prince and everything.

AGENT: Marrying a…? You don’t mean…?

WRITER: Oh, golly-gosh. Daddy will be SO cross. It’s supposed to be such a secret. The press will go insane if they find out. Promise me you’ll be discreet. PLEASE.

AGENT: Of course I promise. (RUBBING HANDS TOGETHER) So much stuff is derivative these days. Writers can’t avoid it. And it isn’t as if this is written in the form of a play. (PRODUCES SHEET OF PAPER) Just sign on this dotted line. And then tell me how much of an advance you need…

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