We speak to Laura about bookshelf inclusivity, Publishing MA's and her 2021 #TBR
My name is Laura, I’m from Romania, and I came to the UK to pursue a Publishing MA at University of Derby. I am working as an editorial assistant for an independent Christian publisher, Lion Hudson. Part of my responsibilities include assisting the editorial team with our children’s, fiction and non-fiction titles. My favourite part of the role is preparing files for various stages of the publishing process, and liaising with our authors.
How did you get into the publishing industry?
By initially doing an MA in Publishing. This helped me familiarise myself with the local publishing models and placing them in my global knowledge of the industry. Afterwards, I was able to secure a job with the unmatched help of recruitment experts in the industry, and by actively following the industry and its output in my spare time. Joining the CIEP and the SYP Oxford committee has definitely contributed to my knowledge of the industry. I also keep an eye out for events organised by the Bookmachine or The Literary Consultancy!
Has your attitude to reading changed since working in publishing? How has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?
Since I started working in my field of choice – editorial – I am reading a lot more books about the industry and the editorial craft. To balance this out, I found myself picking up a lot more graphic novels and series in my down time. I noticed I’m now paying much more attention to a nice turn of phrase and character development (when reading fiction titles). I've also started examining how the theme of the book fits into its market compared to other similar titles. In short, I’m doing a tad more involuntary analysis.
Is there a book or project that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Yes! Are You Sad, Little Bear? A Book about Learning to Say Goodbye by Rachel Rivett was the first title that honed my project editor skills. It involved paying attention to all the design elements, and discussing the book with other departments, which provided a lot more hands-on experience when it comes to the publishing process.
Where do you buy or access your books? I usually read most of my books on Kindle, since the interlibrary loan service was closed for lockdown. There’s also a small bookshop called Book Stop in Oxford. Their sales consultant is very knowledgeable and helpful!
What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors? Some of them do, and some don’t. I did read some recent titles from my usual pick of authors. With the latest lockdown I dived into Ali Smith’s Winter in order to finish her tetralogy. I love the way she normalises our suspension of disbelief – such as a floating head following the main character’s journey from the first pages. I also picked up Mircea Cărtărescu’s Creionul de Tâmplărie (The Carpenter’s Pencil). A Nobel favourite, this is one of his newer titles, a compendium of speeches delivered in various circumstances. It reminded me of the literature module he taught in Uni while I was studying for my BA in Comparative Literature.
What is your most beautiful book?
I am only going to pick from what I like to call my travel library. Because I’m still renting in the UK, I am unable to bring here my entire home library from Romania. Therefore, I only have a handful of selected titles, which I prize enough to buy in hard copy. In this case, it would have to be Nikita Gill’s Great Goddesses, which I bought at the Asia House Literature Festival 2019. It also has the author’s autograph, and seeing her read her poems and present her illustrations was insightful. She’s a great public speaker!
What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you were surprised to love as much as you did?
Due to the fact that I am only buying some titles, my bookshelves in the UK ended up being a kaleidoscope of genres and formats. I think the most representative title would be Schott's Original Miscellany. Here’s to bookshelf inclusivity!
What are your most anticipated reads for 2021 and do you have any reading goals? I’d love to catch up on my endless TBR lists. One of my goals is to read as much contemporary fiction as possible from indie publishers. There are so many new boutique publishers competing for high-street retail space! Bookshop.org is the best thing that could have happened to the industry during the pandemic. The most anticipated read would have to be The Push by Ashley Audrain. The story reminds me of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, and I’m curious to see how other authors explore the genre of motherhood thrillers.
What are your book recommendations?
I was very much engaged by our historical fiction titles from the Jane Austen Investigates series. Why wouldn’t one of UK’s greatest romance writers be a crime-solving genius in her spare time? We have The Abbey Mystery coming out this April, and there’s a pre-order promotion going on for Kindle! Regarding other fiction titles, I would pick anything from Reese Witherspoon’s new book club app, which just launched on Android and iOS. My favourite was The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, a book about womanhood and the power of readers. My academic interest is satiated by the Penguin Classics podcast. It dusts off my literary theory analysis skills from university.
Where can readers find you online? For my publishing activity, there’s my blog. I keep in touch with everyone else on Twitter, and post some life snaps on Instagram. For any other questions, I have LinkedIn!