The HopeRoad publisher contributes to our Q&A series
Describe your job
I am both publisher and commissioning editor at HopeRoad, dealing with the day-to-day running of the business as well as commissioning titles for our list.
What was your first job in the book industry?
I started in the industry by setting up my own publishing company, BlackAmber, in 1998, where we published Patricia Cumper and Alex Wheatle among others.
Who has been the most influential person in your career?
Verna Wilkins of Tamarind Books [now part of Penguin]. She is a trailblazer in children's publishing. She has been my inspiration from the very start.
How has the industry changed since your first job?
It has changed a great deal. In the early days, I was told: "You can't put a black face on a book jacket, because no one will buy the book." Of course, the advent of ebooks has turned the publishing industry on its head but appears to have been a huge success, opening up whole libraries of books to everyone.
What's the biggest challenge in your job?
That's easy. Quite simply: having the funds to publish all the books I want! I cannot be unique in that.
What's the best piece of book-related advice you've ever been given?
When I was about to start my publishing company, one publisher said: "Don't do it - but if you do, I am here for you."
What are the most interesting things you're seeing at the moment in the industry?
At last, the space and recognition given to non-white writers.
What do you think might be the next big thing?
That's a difficult one, but the arrival of ethical alternative bookshops to Amazon is very cheering and may change the look of the marketplace.
How are you coping with working from home?
I love it. I get so much more done.
How do you think the industry will come out of the Covid-19 crisis?
A slow return to its robust self.
What do you most like doing when you're not working?
Tending to my allotment and enjoying the fruits of my labours, or should I say the vegetables.
What is the best book you've read in the last year?
I have to say "pass" at this point. That's an agonising question for an ardent bookworm.
What are you reading now?
I am on the judging panel of the 2021 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation and enjoying some wonderful Arabic writers.
How do you like to read: on screen, on paper, or do you listen to audiobooks?
Nothing beats holding a book and breathing it in as you turn the pages.