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Farzana Khan, Production Controller at Hachette Children's Group

Farzana speaks to The Publishing Profile about her role at Hachette and her favourite new reads.

Hello, I'm Farzana! I've been working in publishing for the last 3 years. At the moment I am a Production Controller at Hachette Children's and also Co-Head of Events for SYP London.

How did you get into publishing?

A friend mentioned the Edinburgh Napier Publishing masters course on a night out during my 4th year of undergrad (wild) and thought it would suit me. Before that, I hadn't even considered publishing as a career. During my master's degree, I also did quite a bit of work experience - marketing assistant for an author, book fair volunteering, and interning at Ebury. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do within the industry and I was just going along with it until I was lucky enough to get my first publishing job at Canongate as Production Assistant, based in Edinburgh.

Has your role in publishing widened your reading taste, and how has it changed your attitude to different genres of books?

My current role is in children's publishing, but I only tend to read adult fic/non-fic. Since joining HCG in September I have tried to read some YA books too. Last year I read The Black Flamingo and Heartstopper. They're good so I'd give YA a bit more of a chance now than before.

What reading formats do you prefer? Do you prefer hardbacks, paperbacks, eBooks, audiobooks, library books, or a mixture?

I read both hardbacks and paperbacks - it depends how much I want to read the book and if I can't hold off for the paperback. When I moved to London in May 2019 I started walking home from work quite a bit, so I started listening to audiobooks and loved them. Listening and walking is such a nice way to wind down. Milkman was my first audiobook (definitely found listening to it much easier than reading it!)

What is your most-read genre?

Looking back at my Goodreads list from 2019, I tend to read a lot of fiction books on race - some favourites from last year include Corregidora, Your House Will Pay, An American Marriage, Queenie and Girl, Woman Other. This year I've been trying to read a variety of themes - The Discomfort of the Evening was a book outside of my normal reads that I devoured. At the moment I am waiting for my copy of The Vanishing Half to arrive.

Where do you buy or access your books?

From everywhere - big and small bookshops, online shops including Amazon (gah!). We get books at Hachette and my boyfriend works at Faber so that's handy.

Who is your most read author, and why?

When the BBC Sherlock series came out I went and bought the complete Sherlock Holmes collection so my most read author is Arthur Conan Doyle. I then took a trip to London and geeked out in the Sherlock Museum - recommend!

What surprises you about your shelves? Is there a book you own that you were surprised to love as much as you did?

I have a big mix of books on my shelves - my boyfriend is a designer so we have a lot of art books that I would never buy but dip into fairly often and enjoy them. But a book that has surprised me, that I have bought, was The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. Someone in my book club chose this and I was hoping it wouldn't be picked but it was, and I just flew through it then educated myself on Google.

What are your favourite books of 2020 so far?

Cider with Rosie. This is my boyfriend's favourite book which he gifted it to me 2 years ago with a note inside saying that it means a lot that I'm reading it. I didn't bother reading it for 2 years because I didn't think it would be my thing. I picked it up this year to 'get it over and done with', feeling a bit guilty about the note, and I thought it was brilliant! More fool me for not having read it when I first got it.

What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of 2020?

We've been out of London since the start of lockdown so away from our shelves at home, but we've collected these books since being here:

I was lucky to get a proof copy of Earthlings before lockdown started, publishing in September 2020 - it is so weird and wonderful. Other than that, because of lockdown, I haven't really been keeping up with what's due out this year - I'll take recommendations!

What book should everyone read?

Since reading it last October I have been telling anyone who will listen to read A Little Life, but I know it's a really difficult book to read, so I'll suggest another. A book I've always loved is the graphic novel Persepolis (and Persepolis 2) by Marjane Satrapi. It is autobiographical and covers Satrapi's childhood in Iran during the revolution and follows her to Austria where she experiences being categorised as 'other'. There's a bit in there that I've always remembered where she mentions feeling like an Austrian Iranian or an Iranian Austrian. That really resonated with me.

You can find Farzana on twitter @fkhan381.


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