The official blog from the team at children’s publisher Hot Key Books, a brand new division of Bonnier Publishing, publishing books for 9 – 19 year olds from August 2012.
Our lovely new website has arrived, full of sneak peeks at our upcoming books, plus a fun “sorting” feature to find what books you might like. Never fear, we are still blogging every weekday, right here.
We love your comments, but do moderate each one for appropriateness.
Who we are:
Sarah Odedina, Managing Director
I have been committed to publishing excellent children’s books since 1988. I began my publishing career in the rights department of Penguin Books. In 1992, I moved to the Watts Publishing Group where I was Rights Director of Watts non-fiction and Orchard fiction. This position was invaluable in providing the commercial training upon which I have built an exciting editorial career. For the past fourteen years, I have served as publishing director of the children’s list of Bloomsbury Publishing, including overseeing and managing the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and in my career my authors have won many wonderful prizes including three Carnegie Medals. I am committed to bringing great authors to readers, and am a particular fan of US authors, whose writing has an important place in the British market.
Emily Thomas, Publisher
I began my publishing career at Andre Deutsch Children’s Books as a secretary to the formidable Editorial Director, Pam Royds. Pam’s authors formed a veritable Hollywood Walk of Fame of Publishing and included my beloved childhood favourites, such as Joan Aiken, Leon Garfield and Philippa Pearce. In truth, I wasn’t cut out to be a secretary. I was far more interested in sticking my nose in all the incoming manuscripts and asking a LOT of questions. Beaten down by my curiosity and persistence, Pam would kindly sit after hours and tell me precisely how she went about turning an (often handwritten manuscript) into a work of creative genius. So was born my passion for editing children’s books and working with authors! I moved about a bit: editorial assistant at Scholastic, working with the great David Fickling, followed by a stint of non-fiction editing at Kingfisher books, and then a move to the glossy supermodel of publishing houses, Hodder Headline (later to be become Hachette Livre UK) as junior editor, editor, senior editor, senior commissiong editor, and then publisher of teen fiction at Hodder Children’s Books… It’s been such an exciting career in publishing so far, and now, as Publisher at Hot Key Books, I have arrived at the job I dreamed of all those years ago as I sat in a creaky old Georgian House in Great Russell Street and listened wide-eyed to my mentor Pam: to be buying such fabulous books from so many talented authors, working with wonderful colleagues to build a brand new and thrilling children’s list here at Hot Key. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Sara O’Connor, Editorial Director, Print & Digital
I began as an editorial assistant at Little Brown Books for Young Readers in New York, and then followed my heart to London. There I joined Working Partners where I worked on series like Rainbow Magic and My Sister the Vampire. Most recently, I was at Hodder Children’s Books managing the Enid Blyton publishing program and acquiring projects like internet sensation JackDrawsAnything.com, and A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton. I am also the co-creator of the volunteer SCBWI Undiscovered Voices project, helping fourteen previously unknown children’s authors land publishing deals that have won and been nominated for a number of industry awards.
Georgia Murray, Editor
I started out in children’s publishing ten-ish years ago, at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, just as Harry Potter was going stellar. I worked closely on the fifth and sixth Harry Potter titles and was also lucky enough to work on books by wonderful authors like Benjamin Zephaniah, Celia Rees, Jeanette Winterson and Louis Sachar. After an extraordinary time and being there long enough to move offices twice, I left to have two children, attempt the freelance life and jam-making, realised jam-making is not all it is cracked up to be, went to work as a commissioning editor at Hodder and Orchard, and ended up at the lovely Hot Key Books.
Jenny Jacoby, Editor
I started out working in children’s publishing on the Production side at DK (where my love of Excel spreadsheets was kindled) and moved into Editorial via a stint in academic publishing at Nature Publishing Group. When I was ready to leave genetics behind I returned to the (much more fun) world of children’s, with time at HarperCollins, managing the Noddy and Dr Seuss publishing, and then to Walker Books, working on fantastic pop-ups, fiction and non-fiction. Since having a baby two years ago I’ve been having a lot of fun working freelance, which is when I first became friends with Hot Key Books – but now I’m delighted to be working in-house with the great team here.
Naomi Colthurst, Editorial Assistant
I recently finished a Masters in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, having first done an undergraduate degree in History at Newcastle University. The main attraction for me when studying History was the amazing stories I used to uncover – which now means I am the office champion of books with historical settings! I did some brilliant work experience with Barry Cunningham at The Chicken House which confirmed for me that publishing, and specifically children’s and young adult publishing, was what I wanted to do as a career. I applied for a position at Hot Key Books thinking I wouldn’t have a chance as it was such an incredible, exciting venture with so many amazing people on board – but whaddaya know! I am beyond delighted to be working here and can’t wait for our fantastic books to finally hit the shops.
Ruth Logan, Rights Director
I began my publishing life at Jonathan Cape in Bedford square, which was a bit lucky. There I worked with the some of finest and most maverick of editors, selling rights in adult and children’s books including Dahl, Steadman, Burningham, Barnes, Atwood, Irving… I was really a bit spoilt so it was hard to know where to move next. I found I couldn’t resist the call of an agency, that of Deborah Rogers far west in Notting Hill and there again, even though I was never entirely sure what my job description was, I was hovering in the vicinity of fabulous writers – Ishiguro, Rushdie, McInerney, Chatwin. But when Bloomsbury was born I knew I had to join them in the brave new enterprise, co-founded by my ex colleague Liz Calder. That was in 1987. We were small but immodest in our expectations and it was exhilarating working so hard and believing so passionately in what we were doing. When Bloomsbury started a children’s list, Sarah Odedina arrived at the same time as J. K. Rowling and I adored working with such a creative and innovative editor and her authors… my life was complete and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to work anywhere else. I was wrong – with Hot Key the dream has begun again.
Kate Manning, Sales and Marketing Director
I started in children’s books on the shop floor at Waterstones in 1997 and then in early 2001 moved into publishing as the sales assistant at Transworld (about ten months before it merged with RHCB). After working my way up to Key Account Manager (which included standing on a rooftop in Oxford with Philip Pullman) I moved to Macmillan just as The Gruffalo’s Child was published. I then moved to S&S as Sales Director, working on lots of fabulous things including Spiderwick and Aliens Love Underpants. I then (I have moved about a bit) went to HarperCollins for four years and saw the launch of David Walliams. I now feel I’ve finally settled down at Hot Key and I’m making myself very much at home. For the first time I have plants in my office, framed pictures, a nice lamp and, of course, Reg.
Cait Davies, Sales and Marketing Executive
It was volunteering at London Book Fair that made the decision for me – I had to work in publishing. After graduating from Swansea University in 2011, interning and HarperCollins and admitting to my parents that the family tradition of teaching probably wasn’t for me (not to mention ending a three year stint of scooping popcorn at ODEON), I was some how lucky enough to land a job as Sales & Marketing Assistant at Hot Key Books. Moving to Hackney and launching a brand new company with the most exciting and dynamic team in the industry (I am biased) was, hands down, the most exciting year of my life. A year later, I’m still pinching myself that I work with books – not to mention the most creative, passionate people at Hot Key and Red Lemon Press.
Rosi Crawley, PR Manager
My life in books so far has been a bit of a whirlwind, with a lot crammed into a relatively short space of time! It all started at university (UEA in Norwich), where I took a class in writing for children as part of a year abroad in the USA. It was suddenly OK for me to speak academically about a subject I thought was fundamentally important to humanity and it changed everything. Not only did I have a secret passion for reading children’s books, but getting children reading seemed to me to be the most important thing to do in life. Whatever happened, I would work in children’s books! I only had to work out what exactly I would do, and how… I started at the Millennium Library in Norwich, where I mostly worked in their children’s section, helping to run rhyme time sessions for toddlers and getting constantly distracted by reading the books I was shelving. With some help and advice along the way I came to London whenever I could to do publishing work experience placements and fell into publicity – I know now it’s the only department for me as I’m too loud for anything else! After placements at Penguin, Usborne, and Walker, I finally caught a break whilst at HarperCollins as they were short an assistant and so kept me on as an intern. From there I got a job at Random House Children’s Books, then returned to HarperCollins before making a bit of a change and joining reading charity Booktrust. I was lucky enough to work on the Waterstones Children’s Laureate PR, so spent a lot of time whisking Malorie Blackman to highly glamorous media engagements, such as BBC Breakfast, Desert Island Discs and even a Charlie Brooker show on video games! It feels right to have returned to publishing now though, and I can’t wait to make my home at Hot Key Books.
Livs Mead, Sales & Marketing Assistant
I started working as a Saturday girl at the magical Tales On Moon Lane, an independent children’s bookshop when I was 15. Saturdays turned into seven years, working during my university holidays and becoming more involved as weekend manager once I had graduated. Working at the shop for so long meant that I was lucky enough to read a lot of wonderful books, see all the exciting things publishers were doing, and how excited and passionate children are about the books they love. All in all I became obsessed with the whole world of children’s books. I wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes to create an amazing book, so I did lots of work experience at publishers, which reinforced my dream to work for a children’s publisher. I saw Hot Key Books boom onto the scene from a bookseller stance, and instantly became fascinated and so excited about what they were doing. I’ve now got my dream job working for such a dynamic, creative and unique publishing house – and I get to carry on raving about children’s books!
Sanne Vliegenthart, Digital Coordinator
I grew up in Katwijk, a small town in the Netherlands, where I lived until I graduated from university. I studied English Language and Culture at Leiden University and went on to get an MA in Literary Translation (English/Dutch). In my final year at Leiden I spent three months studying in the United States at Elmhurst College near Chicago (which explains my American accent, a thing that will forever puzzle every single person I meet). After graduation I decided to move to London in search of a job in publishing. While experiencing life in London for the first time, I did work experience at Icon Books and Penguin, had a freelance video editing job and worked on my YouTube channel Booksandquills (which I started in 2008, and my camera has been permanently attached to my hip ever since). Nine months after arriving in the city I found my dream job as Digital Coordinator at Hot Key Books. I’m glad I’ve found a place where I get to spread the word online about fantastic new books and work on creative and exciting projects with a wonderful team.
Jet Purdie, Art Director
I studied Typography at LCP before working in above-the-line advertising at M&C Saatchi and WCRS. Realising advertising was the work of the devil, I crossed over to publishing where I ghost-illustrated Maisy (the mouse) for Walker Books and designed teen fiction covers for Random House Kids. Later I freelanced for a couple of years, designing theatrical film posters and DVD covers for entertainment advertising agencies such as The Creative Partnership and Tea Creative. After that I set up my own Ltd company, designing corporate brands and the odd graphic novel cover. Then I met the lovely Sarah Odedina and we designed the Hot Key Books logo… and now I art direct for Hot Key Books!
Jan Bielecki, Design Assistant
I self-published my first children’s book back in my Swedish high school, where I forced family and friends to buy up the tiny print run. I have since been designing and illustrating all types of books and graphic novels for Swedish publishers like Raben & Sjogren and Kolik forlag – sometimes with my name on there as the creator! Wanting to sample life outside of chilly Scandinavia I set sail for London where I freelanced while getting my Central Saint Martins diploma. Now, after illustrating Hot Key’s A World Between Us cover, I somehow bagged a design job with the lovely Hot Key family and jumped at the opportunity!
Jon Perdoni, Finance Director
Having studied for my Economics degree in Leeds, for some strange reason I decided three years of books about numbers wasn’t quite enough. So I embarked on another few towards becoming a chartered accountant. I joined Bonnier two years ago and was involved in the amazing creation that is Hot Key Books from the outset. This is such an exciting time for both Hot Key Books and the Bonnier Publishing group, and I am so pleased I can be a part of this wonderful team.
Dominic Saraceno, Production Director
Printing and publishing has been in our family for many years. I grew up surrounded by book samples, hot metal typography pieces and old print machinery my dad would bring home. These days, you’ll find all this stuff in a museum. Straight after school I went to Watford College (now West Herts College) and studied Printing And Packaging Technology. This was a four-year course with one year spent in industry. I left with a Bsc Honours and continued to work at a paperback printer for a year before crossing over into trade publishing production at Pan Macmillan. Since then, I have worked for HarperCollins and Templar Publishing. These all have a very broad product base, and when Bonnier purchased Templar the opportunity arose to work with Hot Key, Weldon Owen and Smellessence.
Tristan Hanks, Production Controller
After graduating with a much-maligned Media Production degree from Bedfordshire University I moved back to Oxford and began working for Harcourt Education. After a few years of working on school books the lure of London became too strong and I managed to land myself a position at Walker Books, working with the novelty department. Nearly six years later and with almost ten million Where’s Wally printings under my belt I found an offer I couldn’t refuse – to work in the wonderful world of Hot Key Books!