What was your favourite children's book as a child?I loved The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and A Little Princess – anything sweeping and a little bit gothic with miserable orphans! The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson was a huge favourite for me too – I had divorced, constantly squabbling parents and I felt like it was talking directly to me.
What is your favourite children's book as an adult?I loved – and still love – anything by Roald Dahl. Probably The BFG was my special favourite when I was younger, but I read Boy over and over too – the moment where his nose is sliced off in the car accident isn’t easily forgotten - and I can still quote big chunks of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. When I got a bit older, it was his incredible short stories in books like Kiss Kiss and The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories. The twists in stories like Royal Jelly and The Landlady never fail to send a shiver down my spine. I wish I’d worked in children’s publishing thirty years earlier so that I might have got the chance to meet him.
What do you think makes children's books so inspirational?I love how there are just no rules and no limitations whatsoever in children’s books – anything goes and they can take you anywhere.
What do you love about Murder Most Unladylike and what makes it stand out?So many things made me fall in love with this book! The narrative voice is the most obvious – I knew within a couple of pages that it was really special, genuine and authentic, and I just wanted to keep reading. Hazel and Daisy’s friendship and double-act is gorgeous – it really reminded me of the relationships you have with your school friends at that age, and as one of the quieter ones in my friendship group, I definitely had my own Daisy to contend with! Plus, I was blown away when I found out who the murderer was, and that showed me what a skilful, clever plot I’d just worked through – and made me really want to work with Robin.
How many people have worked on this book and for how long?Robin and her lovely agent Gemma had already done lots of work on the story before it arrived at Random House, and once we acquired it, which was just over a year ago, lots of people have played a part. Other than me, there were two copyeditors and two proofreaders working on the text; a designer and an illustrator creating the cover and the wonderful map inside; a publicist, Harriet, who sent copies of the book out to reviewers and bloggers; and various people in the Sales, Marketing and Production teams. All in all probably fifteen people have had a direct role, and then lots more who are more behind the scenes.
What made you want to work in children's publishing?I’d always been a big reader and it was the only thing I felt really passionately about, but it had never occurred to me to try to work in publishing – I’d been told it was super competitive and I was convinced I didn’t stand a chance. Then I did a children’s literature module at university, and at the same time I signed up to do some work experience with the brilliant, encouraging, very enthusiastic New Writing North, up in Newcastle. The two things put together made me realise I needed to give it a shot.
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