There was a welcome focus on authors at the first joint media presentation by the new children’s books conglomerate, Penguin/RandomHouse, held yesterday in Foyles’ special events place on the 6th floor.
The slick presentation, intercut with video clips, was presented by various members of the team from ‘pre-school’, through ‘primary’ to ‘teen’, with a range of invited authors coming forward to deliver short, well-judged presentations on their forthcoming titles.
The theme, introduced by the always-impressive Francesca Dow*, was heroes. “Our heroes never die,” she said, speaking of the characters we grow up with from our reading of books, and suggesting that the core business of children’s publishing is the creation of new heroes for today’s children to grow up with.
The handle for the pre-school presentation was “Little Heroes With Big Stories To Tell”. There was a momentary atmosphere of embarrassment in the room when someone from the floor pointed out that Ed Vere’s picture book character Max is a kitten and not (as had been incorrectly described) a mouse, but it was B. J. Novak who was the star of this section of the event, telling us about the inspiration behind his pictureless picture book.
The star author-presence of the ‘primary’ age group was Jacqueline Wilson who talked about her forthcoming novel, Katy, a reworking of Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did. The book is due in August. As soon as ACHUKA receives a review copy we will undertake a joint reading of both the American novel (which we haven’t previously read) and Jacqueline Wilson’s new book which sounds as if it will be a strong, moving and authentic read.
Amanda Punter, telling us about the ‘teen’ publishing programme introduced two American authors, Jennifer Niven, who has written adult and non-fiction titles previously but whose debut YA novel All The Bright Places is out now – she is also a prolific and recommended tumblr blogger – and David Levithan (subject of an ACHUKA Q&A feature some long time ago), who both came on stage for a short three-way chat with editor Ben Horslen. Both authors seemed relaxed and easy in the public eye. Jennifer Niven told us she has three cats and that she arranges her writing desk according to whether she is joined by all three, or just two or even one – which led to banter about habit a three-cat writing day, or a two-cat writing day etc. David Levithan made the whole room laugh when he told us that when he had been a young adult he was reading Anne Tyler and Alice Hoffman so had, in effect, been a middle-aged married woman, rather than a teenager, and that it is only now, in mid-life that he is reading so-called teenage fiction. Leviathan’s new book is Hold Me Closer, a sequel to Will Grayson, Will Grayson co-written with John Green.
The group is obviously highly excited to be publishing Sophie Kinsella’s first YA title Finding Audrey, due in the summer, and the author was there to round off the media event.
Francesca Dow’s TOP 5 Tips on How To Get Into Publishing