Q and A with publisher, Alison Hennessey


Our speaker on March 29 is publisher and digital media executive of Vintage/Random House, Alison Hennessey. we caught up with her this week to ask her a few quickfire questions:


1/Please could you give us a brief biog?


I studied English at Sussex University and I’ve worked in publishing since graduating. My first job was in foreign rights at a tiny company in Sussex, and then I got my break in editorial working on the Penguin Classics list. I’ve been working at Random House for the past five and a half years, and I’m currently the editor at Vintage, and the Digital Media Executive (a job title they kindly let me make up for myself) for my division as a whole.


2/What are you working on at the moment?


Because I work on the paperbacks for titles originally published by four different imprints at Random House – Jonathan Cape, Chatto & Windus, Harvill Secker and The Bodley Head – I tend to be working on lots of different titles, both fiction and non-fiction, simultaneously. At the moment my crime authors, particularly Jo Nesbo, are keeping me very busy, while on the digital side of my job, I’m working on the launch campaign for The Night Circus, an utterly amazing debut novel Harvill Secker are publishing in the autumn.


3/What book would you have loved to have published?


Too many to count!


4/Who are your favourite authors?


Audrey Niffenegger, Charles Dickens, Angela Carter, David Mitchell, Donna Tartt and Sarah Waters are all favourites. My tastes shade slightly towards the gothic door-stoppers.


5/Which author would you have round for tea and cake?


Any who would be prepared to make the long journey on the Northern Line down to the wilds of South London.


6/What inspires you in an author?


An original idea, a distinctive voice, enthusiasm and ambition. I much prefer to publish an author, rather than a single book, so I love to see authors who are thinking about what they want to do next.


7/What three top tips would you give to an aspiring author?


If something isn’t going well, don’t give up on it. Put it to the side, write or read something else, and then come back to it.


Don’t just focus on being published. First and foremost, write because you have a story you want to tell.


Join a writing group, for support and suggestions.


 Follow Alison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vintagebooks

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