I am the Agency Editor.
If during the course of a party (or other non-publishing-related social event) I happen to be asked what it is that I actually do for a living I tend to respond with something along the lines of: ‘I sit in a chair all day and read books’.
To be specific I read all women’s, children’s, young adult and general fiction submissions that come in to the agency and look out for anything particularly exciting. I also provide personal feedback and editorial support to new writers at the agency to make sure that their work is in tip-top condition when we take it to publishers.
But yes, basically, I sit in a chair all day and read books.
Which book changed your life?
Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile. Let me explain.
One day when I was about seven my very clever friend, Fiona, who was also about seven at the time sat down next to me in the reading corner of our classroom on one of those large animal shaped cushions that seem to frequent reading corners in most primary schools and she read The Enormous Crocodile to me.
Fiona was an honourable member of the blue table (a position of the highest esteem that only seated four) and I, who had never yet been introduced to Mr Dahl, was not. To be honest, I was having a spot of bother with this whole reading malarkey that all the grownups seemed so keen to get me interested in.
On this day, however, I remember being stunned by this wonderfully weird book. It talked so graphically about ingesting small children while still managing to be friendly and it provided such brilliant potential for funny voices.
And what’s more it was not being read to me by one of those impossibly tall and shouty grownup creatures, this was one of my peers. This was my friend Fiona, who I was actually a little bit taller than at the time.
What a revolutionary idea. We didn’t need the grownups. No waiting for story time or bedtime or any of the other timeframes that the tall ones forced upon us daily. We could take the stories for our own.
I’m sure my love of reading came from other places too and I’m pretty certain that all the hard work my parents put in before and after this moment should take some credit. Not to mention my mother’s insistence that I see an optician shortly after this time. An optician who informed us that one of my eyes wasn’t pulling its weight and placed a strange contraption he called glasses on my face to help me clearly see the words on the page. I think that probably helped too.
But, in my heartlessly self-centred seven-year-old’s mind, that moment was cemented as the important one for me. If Roald Dahl had never given us this book I might never have learnt to love reading and my life would have been so much less bright.
What book are you waiting for?
Any book with story and character. Get a good idea, write a gripping story around it and tell it with engaging and exciting characters. That’s the most important thing. Tell a good story with good characters and submit it to us. We’ll be in touch the moment we’ve finished jumping up and down and yelling ‘we’ve found it! We’ve found the one!’
You are stranded on a desert island. You can choose one luxury item to take with you, one celebrity guest to join you and you will be granted one wish (which you cannot use to wish yourself off the island). What and who do you pick?
My luxury item would be the shipwreck that they have at their disposal in The Swiss Family Robinson film so I can build that awesome tree house (water system, pipe organ, removable roof and all). I think I could survive happily anywhere if I had that tree house.
My celebrity guest of the moment would definitely be Jason Segel. I always liked him in How I Met Your Mother but then he made the latest Muppets movie happen and I fell in love. I’m sure we would be perfectly contented singing Rainbow Connection together in the tropical sunshine all day long.
And of course I’m wishing for magic powers because I strongly believe in the logic of wishing for more wishes. To be specific (as you always should be when it comes to wishing) I want those magic powers to include teleportation, telekinesis, invisibility, finding out knowledge that I don’t already know when I need to the know it (a sort of Google of the mind), the ability to fly and it would probably be useful to be able to make fire and light. Magic powers might also help me build that tree house.
Share your favourite quotation:
‘The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms’ Muriel Rukeyser