1/Please give us a brief biog. of your publishing career?
I started with a Masters degree in Children’s literature and no earthly idea of how to actually get into publishing! So I basically took temp jobs for any publisher that would have me. I then got my first full time job working as the Editor of a children’s magazine. It was great fun – I even got to interview Gordon the Gopher! Part of that job involved writing stories for the magazine and that led on to my first role in book publishing – with Working Partners. Working Partners is a wonderful company that create books (a little like an author does) and sells them in to the major publishers. I thought up concepts, ideas and storylines for WP and worked with writers to turn those ideas into books. It was very creative and I loved it. During my time at Working Partners I got to know the lovely people at Random House Children’s Books and ended up going to work with them for some years before joining Orion Children’s Books as Editorial Director in the spring of this year.
2/What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on an exciting new adventure series for 8-12 year olds, called Adventure Island. I’m also just putting to bed the first in a fabulous new series called The Western Mysteries which is set in America’s Wild West and written by the author of the Roman Mysteries, Caroline Lawrence. And I’m in the middle of editing the first in a deeply sinister and super-glamorous new YA trilogy that is guaranteed to have everybody on the edges of their seats when it comes out next year. It’s called Soul Beach and I can’t reveal anything more at this stage!
3/What book would you have loved to have published?
Twilight (does everyone say that? J). Jonathan Stroud’s amazing Bartimaeus trilogy. Also, anything by the fantastic Diana Wynne Jones – particularly Fire and Hemlock.
4/Are there any trends in children’s books at the moment?
Always! At the moment it’s dystopian futuristic YA novels, and supernatural realism – i.e. vampires, fallen angels, werewolves, etc. but within a ‘real world’ setting.
5/What inspires you in a writer?
An original twist in a plotline or a really clever new idea. Beautiful writing (what editor wouldn’t say that?) where you don’t see the same word used again within a few paragraphs (a pet hate of mine). And a sense of enthusiasm and a willingness to discuss and throw ideas around.
6/What can a writer do to get your attention (other than submitting their ms. to you)?
Thoroughly research the market so that whatever they send is appropriate (e.g. in tone, content and length) to the readership they’re targeting.
7/Excluding EBooks, how do you see the industry changing over the next 5 years?
I think we’ll see an explosion in the YA market, more genre publishing for the children’s market (i.e. sci-fi and fantasy), and perhaps we’ll start to see more collaboration between publishers and computer games companies.
8/What three top tips could you give LWC members?
- Thoroughly research the market: What else is out there for the age group you’re targeting? How long are those books? Which ones are selling well?
- Love what you’re writing – you may have to work with it for years to come!
- Always be open to discussion and feedback even if it’s sometimes painful. You don’t have to take it all on board, and not all of it will be right or helpful, but if you keep an open mind your book will only benefit.