Q and A with February’s speaker, Emma Smith, commissioning editor of Orion

We caught up with our second February speaker, commissioning editor, Emma Smith, of Orion.


Please could you give us a brief biog. I joined Orion in 2013 and am an editor, focusing on commercial non-fiction. That means I work across a broad range of genres, from cookery and celebrity autobiographies to gift humour, pop science and inspirational memoir. 

What have you bought recently.  I bought a brilliant, funny, sad, moving and beautiful book by a young illustrator, documenting life with mental health issues. It’ll be out in November and I can’t wait for more people to discover her work. 

What are you looking for?  Sharp new talent and people with interesting stories to tell. I am always looking for original, entertaining and well-executed ideas; books that make readers laugh, cry, learn and keep turning pages – whether this is in the form of a quirky gift book, a true crime thriller or intelligent wellbeing. I love books like Information is Beautiful, The Moth, Letters of Note and Emer O’Toole’s Girls Will Be Girls, as well as the hilarious Motivational Quotes to Help You Be More Positive by our very own Chris (simpsons artist). 

Which three writers would you invite around for tea and cake? Sue Perkins for her quippery (and hopefully good taste in cakes), D.H. Lawrence to reminisce about gritty northern towns and romance, and Edith Wharton to talk about American high society in days gone by. (I would also add Shakespeare but everyone says that!)

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