My Career in Books So Far

My first full-time job in publishing was with literary agency Westwood Creative Artists in Toronto. I'd moved there from the UK a year or so earlier, taking on any part-time work in publishing I could find. I started out doing admin and assisting the agents, then became foreign rights manager. The agency represented Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance and Yann Martel's Life of Pi. I remember the frisson of excitement as Naomi Klein's No Logo came off the fax machine (it was that long ago).

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When I took on my first client and struggled selling her novel, Bruce cautioned me against taking on too much literary fiction. A year or so later, I sold rights to a first novel called What the Body Remembers in a dozen countries for a total of half a million dollars and it won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel (The Times called it 'astonishing...enthralling'). He let me get on with it. It was tough to get a publisher for Michael Redhill's novel Martin Sloane, but then it won or was shortlisted for pretty much every single literary award. My last big coup at the agency was selling US rights to Jack Todd's memoir of being a deserter from the US army during the Vietnam War.

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After seven years at WCA, I left and went travelling in Asia, planting the seeds of my first book, Meeting Mr Kim: Or How I Went to Korea and Learned to Love Kimchi, still just a loose folder of stories. Meanwhile, Amy Logan and I put together an idea for a collection of travel stories by some of Canada's top authors; Vintage Canada launched AWOL: Tales for Travel-Inspired Minds in 2003, Metro called it 'wonderful' and the Globe and Mail listed it as one of the Great Summer Travel Reads.

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I almost took a job working as a non-fiction editor with a big company but decided to move to France, where I worked as a freelancer with English-language clients, assessing submissions for a literary agency and writing book club guides for Random House. I worked with a Zimbabwean author on a first novel published as Unfeeling; and a Canadian author on Water Inc ('a smart, sexy, witty and hard-hitting eco-thriller' - Booklist).

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Moving back to the UK, I became Commissioning Editor and then Editorial and Rights Director at Summersdale Publishers. I joined because of the superb travel writing list, but learned about gift and humour books and got to grips with the business side of publishing, balancing commercial necessity with editorial passion. In 2010, we were shortlisted for the IPG independent publisher of the year award for the first time. In 2011 I moved to a Greek island where I continued to work as commissioning editor for Summersdale until July 2013, acquiring books such as Commando Dad and Love with a Chance of Drowning.

 Product Details  Product Details  Product Details  Product Details  Product DetailsProduct Details  Product Details  Product Details  The Life of Fly  Product Details Product DetailsMy Life as a Hooker  Keep on Running   An Apple A Day    Commando Dad: Basic Training   Love With a Chance of Drowning    A la Mod    Canoeing the Congo    Head Over Heels in France    Extreme Sleeps

My freelance work currently includes selling North American rights for Legend Press, and project managing and selling international rights to the travel literature list at Bradt.

My latest book, Falling in Honey, set in Greece, was released in Britain in March 2013, and has been featured in the Daily Express and the Mail on Sunday You magazine. It will be published in North America in March 2014.

Falling in Honey

  • Speaker: Travellers’ Tales Festival, Globetrotters Club, Korean Cultural Centre
  • National radio appearances (UK – BBC Surrey – consulted as expert on political situation in Korea; BBC GNS – interviewed by stations around the country about republishing Janet and John and Gerald Durrell) and television (Canada – book panel, Korea – various appearances)
  • 2009-2011: Social networking consultant, blogger for the Korea Tourism Organisation, London

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