Thursday, 7 November 2013

3D review - The River Singers - Tom Moorhouse - editor interview

We talked to Liz Cross, Head of Publishing, Children's, at Oxford University Press about what was it about Tom Moorhouse' debut novel 'The River Singers' that made her want to publish it - and about her life as a children's book editor.

What was your favourite children’s book as a child?
I loved many, many books passionately at different points in my childhood. I was a great re-reader and if I loved a book I would read it literally dozens of times. The books I probably read more than any others were Antonia Forest's Marlow books - and if I have to pick just one I'll pick The Cricket Term. The characters are so alive, so complex, and so realistic that I feel I know them all just as well as my own schoolfriends.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?At this precise moment it's Penguin by Polly Dunbar because it's so hilarious sharing it with my four year old, who likes to act out the entire story while we're reading it.

What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?
I think they are inspirational in so many ways. For me, a childhood without books is unthinkable. The books I read as I was growing up kept me company, taught me about many different things, gave me ideas, comforted me, made me laugh, helped me escape when that's what I needed to do, gave me glimpses of what might be possible. They were magical in every sense of the word. I don't think one can overestimate the power of a story at a time when you're finding out who you are.

What do you love about this book and what makes it stand out?
This book stood out for me from the start because I had the weirdest experience with it. The very morning that it popped up in my inbox, I'd had a sudden thought on the way in to work - wouldn't it be great to find a book for 9 to 12s that had a Watership-Down-type perspective. So when The River Singers with its cast of voles popped up a couple of hours later I actually felt quite spooked! Then, of course, I fell in love with the book for its beautifully-realized setting, its lyrical tone, but most of all for its engaging characters, witty dialogue, and feeling of real adventure.

How many people have worked on this book and for how long?The number of people that work on any one book is always surprisingly large. At OUP we're really collaborative and so lots of people from different functional areas have been closely involved in scoping out the particular look and feel we wanted for this book. More specifically, two editors (including me) and two designers have worked pretty intensively on it over the past year.

What made you want to work in children’s publishing?
It was what I always wanted to do. My mum was a children's writer, and so I was familiar with the sight of page proofs and cover visuals arriving in the post, and the thrill of receiving the first finished copies. It was so exciting to see a real live book emerging from those typed pages which I'd seen sent off to the publisher in the first place. I just found the whole process fascinating - and to be honest I still do.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Liz. I never realised your mum was a children's author too. (N.B. I'm not related as well!)


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