Friday, 28 August 2015

Summer of Children's Classics - Editor Interview - Robin Stevens - Assistant Editor at Egmont - Robin Stevens

How did you come to be working on Egmont Classics? 

I work across the Fiction department, supporting all of the editors in a variety of projects – but helping to revamp our Classics range has become a favourite project for me. We published the first six books in the series – Treasure Island, A Little Princess, Peter Pan, Just So Stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows – this month, and plan to publish six Modern Classics (The Animals of Farthing Wood, The Snow Spider, You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum!, Kensuke’s Kingdom and Whispers in the Graveyard) next spring.

What is involved with editing classic books, and how does it differ from editing new fiction? 

Because Classic texts are extremely well-known and beloved, there isn’t really any editing involved! It’s more of a project management role, although I did create the back material in each of the first six books in the series. The really stand-out part of the books are their covers, and that was all down to our Design team and the illustrators, who did amazing work on them.

When editing a classic, do you encounter difficulties as everyone already has nostalgic views about the books? 

You have to be very respectful with Classic texts – there have to be very good reasons for any edits, and so we’ve chosen to add in extra material instead.

When planning the publication of new-editions of Classics, do you ever look for ways to make them more appealing/relevant to younger readers? 

Absolutely, and that was why we decided to add in the back material that we did – most Classics are written using language that children will be unfamiliar with, so we created glossaries to help them understand the text, and short sections explaining aspects of each book.

There have been so many editions of the staple Classic titles released by numerous publishers over many years, plus many are available without cost in electronic book form, why do you think it is that so many new editions are still brought out today? 

It’s important to have a reason to republish – a lovely new cover, special extra material, an introduction and so on – but I think that there will always be room for new editions of Classics. The stories are so good that they demand good presentation, and the new Egmont editions do them justice.

Now for the ultimate question: What do you think it is that makes a book a Classic? 

Working on the range gave me a chance to re-read each one, often for the first time since I was a child (the perks of the job!) and I was reminded of just how good they all are. They’re Classics because they’re genuinely great stories that stick in people’s heads. They’re fast-paced, funny, exciting, heart-breaking and wildly imaginative, and they all absolutely deserve their Classic label. It’s the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this year, and I’m fairly convinced that it and the other books on our list will be around for another 150 years at least!

Robin is also the author of the Wells and Wongs Detective Society books. 

Robin will be back tomorrow sharing with us her favourite children's classic! 

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