Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I've just done an interview with a very interesting journalist from the Oregonian, our local newspaper. This reminded me that until my website is up and running, I should probably post some information about myself up here.

I have spent most of my life dedicated to children's books and children's reading. I was a precocious reader, learning to read at 3 years old. As a child, I helped my aunt in the library and catalogued all my books at home! By 16, I worked in the local children's book store, and went on to do my college thesis at Cambridge on children's literature - which was almost unheard of back then.

After a brief flirtation with magazines, I became an editor at A and C Black, working on non-fiction and commissioning their first series of beginner readers - the Jets books. These were considered ground-breaking in their time. They still continue today, some 30 years later - last year 9 million of the Mudpuddle Farm books by Michael Morpurgo and Shoo Rayner were given away by Macdonalds Happy Meals! I am proud to have published Helen Cresswell, Kaye Umansky, Colin West, and to have won the Times Information Book Award for my non-fiction titles.

I moved to HarperCollins, who published the paperback editions of the Jets and became Editorial Director for fiction. I was fortunate to publish Lois Lowry's The Giver, Hilary McKay, Michael Morpurgo, Cynthia Voigt, Karen Wallace, Adele Geras and Mary Hoffman amongst many wonderful writers. During this time, my books won the Smarties and the Guardian awards. As Publishing Director at Hodder, I worked with many wonderful picture book creators, including Mick Inkpen - we published Wibbly Pig together - David Melling and Francesca Simon, Vivian French and Alison Bartlett. We had a great fiction team at Hodder and developed a list that boasted Animal Ark through to David Almond's Skellig!

As Publishing Director at Oxford University Press, I worked with the great editor Ron Heapy whose list includes many Carnegie winning titles. Tim Bowler won for River Boy on my watch! I also had the opportunity to work with Geraldine McCaughrean again - a writer I hugely admire. I launched OUP's paperback list in 1999, thus scraping into the 20th century!

For several years, I co-ordinated the children's and educational events programme at the Oxford Literary Festival. The immediacy of connecting writers to 3000 children over one action-packed week cannot be beaten!

A call from Phil Knight of Nike's office led to a new direction, as he hired me to find projects for his new animation studio. It was a privilege to work with his son Travis, director Henry Selick, and dozens of talented directors, writers and artists, especially in those heady early days of Laika. Moving to Portland, Oregon, I enjoyed seeing the development of CORALINE and PARANORMAN, and the short film MOONGIRL, while optioning and acquiring a number of exciting new projects that the studio continues to develop, including Alan Snow's HERE BE MONSTERS and Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis's WILDWOOD.

This year, I launched my new venture - putting together all the skills I have learned over the years and starting a literary agency dedicated to nurturing and developing writers' and artists' careers. I continue to be as passionate as ever about bringing good writing to a wide audience, and to giving children the pleasure of total immersion in wonderful books.

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