Tag Archives: publishing world

Flexible working: Does it work for employee and employer?

We had a fantastic response to our blog competition and we do aim to answer all of your brilliant questions!

The team decided that ‘Flexible working: Does it work for employee and employer?’ should be the first question we address as it’s very much a hot topic and the question of flexible working is often raised by our candidates when considering a role.

We have researched this topic by asking our clients their company’s stance on flexible working, what policies they have or what is in their pipeline for the future.

Types of flexible working you might consider:

  • Part-time
  • Term-time
  • Job-sharing
  • Flexitime
  • Compressed hours
  • Working from home on a regular basis

Our clients have noticed a shift from flexible working being more focused on hours e.g. flexible starts and finishes to now moving onto location.

Does it work for employee?

We all dread that rush hour commute and we all wish we could have been home for that boiler repair, right? The opportunity to avoid commuting (even once a month!) and make that all important appointment is a huge stress reliever.

Flexible working and the trust that comes with it from our employers gives employees a positive feeling and a sense of autonomy, encouraging a positive attitude towards their work.

An office atmosphere is great! However, if a member of staff has a lot on and needs to focus, this atmosphere can sometimes be a distraction. Allowing an employee the option of working from home can be beneficial as they can work without distractions.

Some employees don’t enjoy working from home, instead they miss that social interaction and that is fair enough!

It goes without saying that for employees with children or family commitments, flexible working is extremely beneficial.

Does it work for employer?

Our clients recognise that allowing employees to work from home, is a trust exercise and employees have reacted positively to this. In particular millennials are expecting a more flexible work environment and companies need to respond to a changing workforce.

For expanding or small companies, flexible working is also a positive because it allows for a better working environment in terms of space. Small offices can be quite cramped and stuffy, by employees taking it in turn with their flexible working allows for a much more comfortable working environment in the office.

A concern our clients acknowledged was centred on creativity. People often work best when they can bounce off each other and discuss ideas and their concerns in person. So there is a need for people to be present for meetings and to maintain communication between teams.

However, with most people having access to good wifi, it’s possible to have meetings from remote locations using Skype / Google hangout etc – once everyone gets the hang of it this works fine!

Does it work for employee and employer? YES!

The response from our clients was overall positive and flexible working has become part of company consciousness and improving working standards.

For some clients their flexible working policies are already in place with employees working one day a week from home (with successful completion of probation period in mind) for others the policies have started with some improvements to go.

If flexible working does not have a negative effect on the working standards then why not!

Further Reading:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/factsheet (You can register and get full details)

https://www.rec.uk.com/news-and-policy/policy-and-campaigns/ongoing-campaigns?a=154804

https://www.publishers.org.uk/activities/inclusivity/inclusivity-action-plan/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/16/flexible-work-parents-child-free-control

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Marketing in book publishing

BytetheBook hosted a particularly good event called ‘How Do you Market Authors and their Books?’

Introduced by Justine Solomons and chaired by Hermione Ireland (Marketing Director at Little Brown Book Group @hermioneireland) the evening covered a really good range of questions for both authors and those working in marketing in publishing.

They had a range of experts including Julia Silk (Literary Agent at Kingsford and Campbell @juliasreading), Truda Spruyt (Director of PR agency Colman Getty @TrudaSpruyt) and Kit Caless (Author and Publisher at Influx Press @KitCaless) to ensure we heard all sides of the story!

Take aways

  • It’s important to market yourself (or your author) not just your product. You need to creative and authentic.
  • It’s vital to be resilient (perhaps more in publicity) where you get lots of no’s before you get yes’s.
  • There was a split on the importance of social media with Kit saying it depends if the author is confident to do. Similarly events can work well if the author is behind it and has connections.
  • Partnerships also work well if the author has a strong back story and connections.
  • Everyone agreed it’s vital to get a marketing plan together at a very early stage – 3-6 months ahead of publication date and you either need time to do marketing yourself or money to pay someone to do it for you!
  • Publishers should put together a detailed marketing plan for you with a budget that generally reflects the size of the advance.
  • For self-published authors, be creative (Kit sends 2-300 advance copies with a hand-written note out to all the indie booksellers which generates strong advance orders).
  • Metadata is vital to get right. There are various codes and key words that can be used and manipulated to gain visibility. In big publishers there are tech people doing this but you can put your book in several niche sub categories to reach a wider audience. You might be number 1 in a niche!
  • Facebook advertising can be used effectively especially for genre publishing. And try Facebook Live which is free.
  • Authors should think about their readers/audience as the book will need to go through a long selling chain if published by a publisher (Agent – Editor – Sales – Marketing etc) and they’ll all be asking – who will be interested in buying this book?

Thanks to the panel and Justine, founder of @BytetheBook and look forward to the next event!

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Sales and Customer Service

I joined Atwood Tate in February 2018 and specialise in recruiting for Sales, Production, Production Editorial, Rights, Contracts, Project Management, Design, Distribution & Operations roles.  In this blog, I will be explaining jobs in Sales and Customer Service sectors within publishing.

Sales

What is a sales role in publishing?

Sales roles are diverse – from Sales Assistant, Sales Executive, Sales Representation roles which bring in new business to an Account Manager role looking after a designated group of client/company products, i.e an Account Manager for children titles in the US market for an international leading trade book publisher.  For sales roles, it is also usually divided into a specific list of titles and accounts: normal accounts (bookshops/direct customers) and special sales (supermarkets/retail stores/ wholesalers). 

What does a sales role involve?

Your job is to understand the front list titles, prepare new titles presentation, build and maintain relationships with customers/clients, represent your publisher and persuade your target audience to sell your titles or products.

What skills do you need to succeed in a sales role?

Communication and presentation skills. You need to be results and target driven and have a good head for numbers. Excellent negotiating skills are a must.  You will also need to keep up with latest market trends, observe the market, feed it back to your publisher and make strategic plans to keep the business going. 

Is there good progression in sales?

Sales roles are very diverse so they are always full of opportunity and progression.  You can make a lateral move or you move upwards and onwards.  The contacts and relationships you will build up throughout the years will also become one of you biggest assets when you look for a new opportunity – so make sure you stay in touch with everybody!

Customer Service

What is a customer service role?

Customer service is fundamentally a role to support the operations of a sales department.  You will update metadata on the company database, websites or other online platforms.  You will also handle queries from booksellers/clients/direct customers, issue invoice and follow up on the finances.  Other responsibilities may include logistics management, stock queries, and resolving problems.

What skills do you need in a customer service role?

As for the nature of the role, you will be a tech-savvy person.  Preparing sales materials for your colleagues, updating the database and processing orders will be your main duties so a good eye for detail, good communications skills and a high ability to solve problems will be essential.  

How do you progress in a sales/customer service role?

You can start as a Sales Coordinator and then move towards managing accounts and eventually overseeing a sales operations team.  Keep up with the latest technology and software, be an expert in what you do.  If you eventually wanted to have a fresh challenge, you could look into operations or project management roles.

If you have any questions about Sales or Customer Services roles in publishing, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Clare Chan, Senior Publishing Recruitment Consultant

Tel:        0203 574 4428 Email: clarechan@atwoodtate.co.uk

Specialist areas: Sales, Production, Production Editorial, Rights, Contracts, Project Management, Design, Distribution & Operations roles.

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Commissioning in Book Publishing – How to build a successful list outside the 6-figure zone?

It was a lovely evening in the beautiful Century Club at the Bookmachine Talking Editorial! Truly enlightening to hear from 3 publishing professionals about how they build their very different lists. Valerie Brandes from Jacaranda Books, Keshini Naidoo from recently founded Hera books and Zara Anvari from White Lion (Quarto Group) were on the panel which was chaired by the brilliant Abbie Headon.

Valerie explained how Jacaranda books was founded in 2012 as a direct result of the lack of diversity discussion in the industry. There was a need for what they were doing and submissions came flowing. At the beginning no budget and no connection, however opportunity was always there because nobody was doing what they were doing. She says that you constantly have to reimagine your list and identify gaps in books published. For instance, they did notice that very few black British authors were published and in 2018 they decided that in 2020 they will publish 20 books written by black British authors.

Keshini is the co-founder of hera, a female-led, independent commercial fiction digital-first publisher (and now also publishing paperbacks). Their audience is the reader who cannot put a book down for 3 days. They publish books across genres such as romantic comedy or psychological thrillers. The story comes first and the commercial aspect is priority, although quality is necessary. The books they publish she admits might not make the Booker Prize list but will make many people happy! For Keshini, to commission you have to love what you commission and be able to push the title/the list.

Zara recently joined White Lion, an imprint of the Quarto Group publishing non-fiction books across pop culture and lifestyle. Business strategy is key for them: you have to have a direction and be profitable. Zara’s job differs from Valerie’s and Keshini’s as she comes up with concepts for books which she then has to sell to her colleagues and managers before finding the right authors for them. It a very collaborative environment and people have to buy into your idea. If you do not believe in it, nobody will. So you need to know what you want and go for it. As the imprint is quite new, they still consider what are their successes, what they do well, and this is a guiding principle across the whole.

How do they find their authors?

Valerie from Jacaranda looks at things she liked. She attends events, talks to agents and publishers, reads articles and blogs. Her advice: you just have to ask! Sometimes just asking if the rights of a book are available will work! For things that were not being published, she really focuses on what she likes, and obviously reads a lot and exposes herself to a lot of different influences.

Keshini from hera finds her authors through lots of different ways. It could be through submissions through their website or from authors and agents (ratio is 50/50 between the two). She was pleasantly surprised by the support she and her business partner received from agents from the start. She also mentioned something interesting about social media and Twitter in particular. Twitter is a way to commission, who would have thought?! There is a big community out there: authors put their pitch down with the hashtag #PitMad. This is very big in the USA, not as much in the UK but is this the way forward?

Zara from White Lion relies a lot on recommendations. Her concepts are born in-house and commissioning for her is more trying to find the right author for it (could be an influencer or an academic). In light of this, budget can be an element too. Zara’s advice is to stay open, and try to sell yourself to the author too as you will be working as a team, in a partnership.

What does success look like?

For Keshini, success is not focussing on prize but high chart positions. Online buzz and good exposure on social media is also very important. For Zara, as their books are very international, success is often measured by the attention they attract at book fairs. They need to make sure it gets international exposure and good conversion in terms of interest and sales. For Valerie, the notion of success has been evolving. At the very beginning, launching their publishing house was a success in itself. It has been an incredible learning curve for the founders of Jacaranda books as there is a massive difference between understanding what being a business is, compared to just being part of a business. It has been really hard and success was surviving as a business. This year what looks like success is very much visible for them as they won prizes and were long-listed for awards.

Commissioning and what makes a list successful are very different things depending on what books you publish and what business you are part of. But what the 3 speakers all agreed on is that to commission, you have to trust your gut and be passionate enough about the book to fight for it. To the question “what makes a book stand out from the lot” Keshini’s conclusion was hilarious but nonetheless very true as she quoted Marie Kondo: “If it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it!”

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Inclusivity and Diversity in Publishing

Building inclusivity is a top priority in the UK, and we in the publishing industry must also work to establish best practice in the recruitment process in order to bring in diverse voices and varied experience.  Coming from a different cultural background myself and having worked in publishing and recruitment, I have built up a passion for this topic, and I am very keen on making an impact within the publishing industry.

As a team at Atwood Tate, we have had Equality and Inclusion training and I recently attended the Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference put on by The Publishers Association and The London Book Fair.  The conference gathered different panels of representatives from the publishing industry, who spoke about what they have done/are doing to encourage and educate publishing companies to build a more inclusive work environment. 

On International Women’s Day, I spent an afternoon attending a forum on Inclusivity and Diversity, hosted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. This forum gathered recruitment professionals from different industries and explored how a better understanding of intersectionality can support a more inclusive recruitment process and deliver a truly diverse candidate sheet.

During the conference, Mark Gales from Young Women’s Trust explained how recruiters and HR professionals can support young women, as studies show that 53% of young women feel worried and uncertain about the future.  By signing up as a volunteer with the YWT, recruiters and HR professionals can offer coaching and tailored job application feedback for young women to build up employability and their confidence.  After using the coaching service, 92% of attendees felt more confident in presenting their CV and felt they had a better understanding of what employers are looking for.  Even more encouraging was that 55% of young women got a new job/work experience.

On offering support to disadvantaged people who are trying to get into employment, Gemma Hope from Shaw Trust explained that we can help candidates by organising a non-panel-setting interview, or even offering candidates a work trial to assess ability, as some candidates might find a traditional interview process distressing.  In the financial sector in particular, some recruitment processes require no CV submissions and a solely question-based application form, from which gender, education background and age are excluded, has replaced the traditional CV and cover letter format: a solely skills-based assessment.

In the publishing industry, we are trying different recruitment approaches and we are still searching for a way to establish best practice across the whole industry.  In academic publishing, we have started to see publishers encourage salary transparency during the recruitment process.  In trade book publishing, we have seen experimentation with AI recruitment.  We, as a recruitment agency have also started to offer transparency to our clients by outlining the diversity of our search. We ensure publishers are aware that we open up their vacancies to a wider pool of candidates than they may reach through traditional advertising or networking routes.  We hope to see publishing continue to blossom and grow through achieving meaningful diversity. 

Written by Clare Chan, Senior Publishing Recruitment Consultant.

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The Book Trade Charity

What do they do?

The Book Trade Charity is a fantastic organisation, offering support, guidance and financial assistance to all those in the book trade industry presently, in the past or striving to be in the future.

Founded on the principles that age, health and finance should not be a barrier to this creative and inspiring industry, the charity aims to overcome these barriers.

How can they help you?

If you have been struck by an unexpected illness, financial problems, medical situations or redundancy for example you may be eligible for assistance.

By offering grants, housing, and confidential and friendly support to tackle these problems.

The Retreat and Bookbinders Cottages – both in London, are residential facilities for those working or have previously worked in the book trade. Offering a fantastic, comfortable and community centred atmosphere, with individuals who share common experiences.

Travelling costs for interviews, extra financial assistance to move to London for jobs are also ways the charity can help if you meet their requirements.

What about if I haven’t worked in trade books before?

Extra assistance during internships, supporting in education or training courses, financial costs in attending interviews are some of the ways the charity can help you.

www.booktradeentrysupport.org – this website is aimed to provide information to those who are new to the trade. Take a look, it may just help you in reaching your dream job!

Are you looking to get back into work?

Going back to work can be scary and a challenge.

The charity can assist you with this transfer. Re-training after being made redundant, assistance with training courses, financial grants are some of the ways the charity can help you.

Become Involved

Donations are massively appreciated, both one-off, or regular monthly or annual. Currently the charity’s annual grants budget (across all the areas in which it helps) is some £250,000, and donations are relied upon to replenish the budget every year.

If you are up for some fun, you can run an event (possibly a bake sale?) a tasty treat! Or if you are up for something more challenging you can also take part in a run or swim!

The charity also has 5 places in the London Marathon each year – you can achieve a huge personal success and contribute to a great cause at the same time!

If you would like to fill out a grant form or discuss your options, visit the website here:

You can also call: 01923 263128

To donate visit: See the Donation pop up on the website or visit their virgin giving page

You can also read some inspiring stories on their website of the excellent work the charity has carried out.

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The Art of Reading

The Atwood Tate 2019 Reading List, find out what is on our consultant’s bookshelves this year!

Helen Speedy, Associate Director

HHelen loves history books, and was given `Queens of Conquest’ as a Christmas present as she really enjoys Alison Weir! Helen appreciate’s Weir’s writing upon historical figures, to which there is limited information and these queens from the early Middle Ages sit within that category.

Helen will also be reading `Tombland’ by CJ Sansom, as she loved the earlier Shaedlake books. `Tombland’ is set in Norfolk, where Helen is from, spurring her on to read it even more!

Kathryn Flicker, Administrator & Social Media Coordinator

Kathryn will be reading `Call me by your name’ as she hasn’t yet watched the film and wants to get lost in the romance and setting of Italy through the written word.

Richard Yates, is again on Kathryn’s bookshelf with `Revolutionary Road’.

Having read `The Easter Parade’ and finding it mostly sad, but recommending to everyone she knows, Kathryn is ready for more Yates!

Faye Jones, Publishing Recruitment Consultant

Faye is obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock films and `The Woman in the Window’ is loosely inspired by Rear Window. Having heard such good things, Faye decided to add to her list!

Faye will also be reading `Catcher in the Rye’, a classic she hasn’t got round to yet. `This is going to hurt’ by Adam Kay has been on Faye’s read pile for a while and 2019 is the year!

Anna Slevin, Temps & Freelancers Administrator

Anna is planning to read `Lies Sleeping’ by Ben Aaronovitch and `The Wise Man’s Fear’ by Patrick Rothfuss. Both fiction, both falling into the fantasy camp, they are fun and compelling and make reading fun for Anna!

`The Gastronomical Me’ by M.F.K. Fisher is also on Anna’s bookshelf. Food essays are wonderful to read and delight the senses!

Parissa Bagheri, Trainee Publishing Recruitment Consultant

Parissa is currently reading `The World’s Wife’, after enjoying The Feminine Gospels and its extravagant metaphors, Parissa is reading a Duffy poem a day!

`Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’, humorous and heavy hearted, Parissa is expecting to ride a roller coaster of emotions with this one!

Catherine Roney, Publishing Recruitment Consultant

Catherine is a huge fan of Liane Moriarty and can’t wait to get stuck into her latest book! Nine strangers in need of a break, a beautiful health and wellness retreat, what can go wrong?

If you enjoy warm, funny and family centred novels, indulge in some Liane Moriarty this year!

Karine Nicpon, Lead Consultant

Karine is planning to read `Chéri’ by Colette. Colette is a very famous French writer who Karine has never read, making 2019 the year!

The novel is written in French and English translations are available. A tale of unobtainable love, if you love romance, this is one for you!

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Industry Spotlight: Temping

What is temping?

Publishers contact us to book temps when they need an extra pair of hands to help them meet a deadline or when they are extra busy. These roles are also urgent with almost immediate starts. Our clients also need temps to cover sick leave or to cover whilst a new permanent team member is being recruited.  They may even consider the temp! Temp roles can range from 2 days up to 6 months and can be extended further and even lead to a permanent role.  

Temping with Atwood Tate

The Temps/Freelancers team cover roles across the entire publishing industry including trade and educational, Academic, Science as well as professional and B2B, digital and print.  They also cover administration, finance, HR, marketing, and sales.

The team are:

Kellie Millar (Temps/Freelancers Manager) kelliemillar@atwoodtate.co.uk

Novia Kingshott (Senior Recruitment Consultant) NoviaKingshott@atwoodtate.co.uk

Anna Slevin (Temps/Freelancers Administrator) annaslevin@atwoodtate.co.uk

Anna is a former Atwood Tate temp herself and had a few admin placements in Accounts Payable and Publications Teams. As she can testify temps are paid weekly on Fridays and receive holiday pay which goes into a “pot” they draw from when they go on annual leave. Temps can be paid by hour or have a day rate depending on the job.

Our clients aren’t all publishers but have a busy publishing team. These also include a royal academic society, a charity or even a standards or ratings publisher. A lot of the time when temping, skills are readily transferrable and employers are more flexible regarding your work background. Marketing roles are particularly easy to transfer across or specialist knowledge such as science or law can be very useful in editorial for those specialist subject publishers.

How will temping benefit me and is an extension guaranteed?

Sometimes temps cover a role more senior or more junior than they would typically expect. This could be in a different area to one they have worked in before or one they do because they love what the publisher works on and the job. Temping is great for exploring the industry and various companies.

Temp roles will often say “extensions possible” this is because roles can be extended for more days and weeks or a contract on the publisher’s payroll could be offered. There are no guarantees but it does happen and you are more than welcome to apply for internal vacancies while working for that publisher which may not be available to the general public.

Candidates do come to Atwood Tate specifically wanting temp or freelance work but quite often they are looking for a permanent job but don’t yet have the required experience so the Temps team can help to get that ‘foot in the door’. Once a candidate has a bit more experience in publishing, the Permanent Team can help look for a permanent role in publishing. Kellie and Novia can help you to build up that in-house experience.

What is the recruitment process for temping?

A role comes in. We tell you about it / You express interest. We put you forward. If the client chooses your CV you can start working immediately or there may be a telephone interview or even a face to face interview. Interviews are less formal and shorter with temp roles.  

As a Temp: work hard + submit timesheets + be paid on Fridays = WORK IN PUBLISHING!!!

(You also learn a lot no matter how well you know the role and get to work with some really lovely people.)

With contributions from Anna Slevin

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Atwood Tate Book Club: Halloween

 

Have you ever wondered what a team of publishing recruitment specialists like to read in their down time? Curious about our favourite books growing up? Welcome to the Atwood Tate Book Club, where we reveal what books have a special place on our shelves! For this entry, we peek under the bed and around darkened corners with our favourite Halloween appropriate reads.

Anna Slevin, Temps & Freelancers Administrator

Gentleman & Players by Joanne Harris .

Psychological thriller that really ramps up the tension in an all-boys school, written by a former teacher (of Chocolat fame) with two narrators and two time periods as a former tragedy comes back to haunt the school… Honestly one of the most disconcerting reads as hindsight and ignorance confuse the reader as the disturbing mystery plays out.

The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman

Short stories that show schoolchild nightmares that ultimately reach a conclusion as the reality of a train crash hits home. Memorable a decade later! Dreamscapes are the perfect landscape for awful situations with terrible images that stay with you…

Charlotte Tope, Publishing Recruitment Consultant

The Virago Book of Ghost Stories volume ll

 

It’s not in print anymore so you’ll have to do a bit of searching to get a second hand copy, but a collection of haunting tales all written by women. I recommend Black Dog Penelope Lively. You’re going to have to read in-between the lines for this one!!

 

Faye Jones, Publishing Recruitment Consultant

The Woman in Black  by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black was the first horror book that I read after finishing school, and even though I couldn’t put it down I wanted to because it was so scary! I only read it at night time which was probably a bad idea and when the film came out I convinced my friends to try reading it before watching it in the Cinema. If you’re looking for a chilling read I would recommend the Woman in Black.

 

 

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Administrator in the Hot Seat: Anna Slevin

If you could write ‘THE book’ on something, the definitive how-to guide on any subject, which topic would you choose?

This is also my one true fact to share but I wrote 6,000 words about cinnamon instead of a dissertation for my degree! It wasn’t definitive so I’d quite like to go back and do that someday. (It was a choice between cinnamon or coffee at the time but I didn’t want to end up hating coffee!)

What three books changed your life?

First Test by Tamora Pierce

Where a girl didn’t have to pretend to be a boy to do what she wanted! (Tamora Pierce started in the eighties and is having a revival at the moment) It didn’t so much change my life as shape it from the start because my mum read it to me when I was about six I think.

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell

(Slightly cheating I know but I only picked it up because it was so thick!) This autobiography melded fact and storytelling the point where I went off and wrote about cinnamon and studied Creative Nonfiction later. It’s been adapted into several television productions each different from the last. It showed me that real life can be as interesting as fiction and imagination can be applied to everything. Even slugs.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

I often give people the impression that I only read longer books or sprawling series, this isn’t entirely true because of this book. The amount of foreign literature in translation on British shelves is minimal – this is criminal. Kitchen is two novellas by a Japanese author that were somehow mainstream enough to be in English at my local library. Novellas are often underrated or undervalued, unfortunately they cost almost the same as much lengthier paperbacks. But some stories should be a certain length. Some stories need a certain style, a certain pace. Some stories are specific and individual and particular. But resonate. I now actively look for shorter fiction and translations.

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?

 Walking between worlds. It’s something of a theme in Diana Wynne Jones from her nine-lived enchanters with the title Chrestomanci to Howl of the Moving Castle fame (the film is very different! In the book he’s actually Howell Jenkins from Wales in our world) and in Homeward Bounders while in The Merlin Conspiracy there is confusion with multiple Earths…

The way it can mean so many different things even to one author strikes me as something special. It normally makes the character appreciate the world they come from or find one they prefer! I like the idea of seeing how different societies function and being able to choose for myself, much like a good book…

Bonus Question

Who would you invite (and why) to your fantasy literary dinner party?

There’s a saying: “never meet your heroes” and a lot of the best characters can be very obnoxious… I’m actually reading The Immortal Dinner at the moment with Keats and Wordsworth in appearance but Wordsworth sounds like a very difficult guest at times!

Do you invite characters or authors? What would they eat? Does Bob Dylan count, having won the Nobel Prize? If this is a fantasy literary dinner party I would invite my dad and Bob Dylan to talk to each other because my dad would love that, and William Morris; I would invite my mum and Margaret Drabble because she introduced me to her, and Eric Hobsbawm; and I would quietly slip out the back door and ask my parents about it later as an after-party. I don’t know who would be making the food. My parents introduced me to literature for which I can never thank them enough so I think I’d rather they get the opportunity and I know I would have no regrets, facilitation being the better part of valour.

 

 

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