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Portia Chauhan, Marketing Assistant at Hay House Publishers

We speak to Portia about her journey into publishing and working on Trey Anthony’s incredible Black Girl in Love (with Herself)

Portia Chauhan, Marketing Assistant at Hay House Publishers

Hi! I’m Portia and I’m a Marketing Assistant at Hay House Publishers.

How did you get into the publishing industry?

Back in 2018, between my second and third years of my undergraduate English Literature degree, I was lucky enough to do a 2-week work experience placement at Bloomsbury Publishing in the Marketing and Publicity department (adult fiction). It was the first time I’d ever felt excitement about a career path and I immediately knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. However, the rest of my journey definitely wasn’t linear! After I graduated, I had to move out of London for a year and whilst I couldn’t get a job in Publishing, I made sure what I was doing would give me experience suited for publishing. After a year working in administration, social media, then communications, in October 2020 I was offered the position of Marketing Assistant at Hay House. I feel incredibly grateful to have my job, not just because of everything going on in the world, but because I am part of such an amazing team.

Has your attitude to reading changed since working in the publishing industry? How has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?

I’m not sure it’s changed my attitude just yet! Maybe it’s because I’m still a relative newbie but I still look forward to my lunchtime/nightly read. I definitely think it’s changed my reading habits a little though. Hay House are a leading mind, body, spirit publisher so I’ve had to read a lot of texts outside of my comfort zone, but it has broadened my horizons for sure! Good Vibes, Good Life is one of the most inspiring texts I’ve read in years, and it’s thanks to Hay House that the book came into my life.

Portia's bookshelves

Is there a project or book that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of?

Trey Anthony’s Black Girl in Love (with Herself) is probably the project I’m most proud of working on so far. I’m absolutely loving seeing her interviews in Bad Form and Forbes amongst many others. She also featured on our podcast Black Women on the Mic this month and that was one of my favourite episodes yet.

Where do you buy or access your books?

I’m a sucker for a physical copy still – I usually purchase my books from Hive or

'Girl, Woman, Other' by Bernadine Evaristo, 'Luster' by Raven Leilani and 'The Vanishing Half' by Brit Bennett

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?

I’ve got way more into literary fiction over lockdown! I hate that label though, it’s so bland yet so many of the titles that fall under that umbrella are utterly magnificent. Luster, The Vanishing Half, and Girl, Woman, Other were some of my lockdown reading highlights. Pre-lockdown, I actually felt a little disillusioned with reading after what was an intense three years at uni, and prior to that I had a taste for gothic fiction and Romantic poetry (P.B Shelley especially) so I’m glad my tastes have expanded over the last year or so.

What is your most beautiful book?

It has to be the Folio edition of The Last Man by Mary Shelley. I’ve wanted to read it for such a long time and my parents kindly got it me for Christmas! I think we can all agree that gold foiling is incredible!

'The Last Man' by Mary Shelley

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

I took this question literally at first and was going to write how deep my shelves are! I know I’ve already mentioned it, but Luster surprised me with how absolutely addictively amazing it was. I knew I would like it but oh my GOD – it was incredible.

What are your most anticipated reads for 2021 and do you have any reading goals?

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris is the read I’m most excited for! Those proofs look so amazing, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

What are your ultimate book recommendations?

Wow this is a loaded question, I have so many! Feminism, Interrupted by Lola Olufemi is a feminist manifesto for the modern age, succinctly tracing the intersection between gender, race and class in 21st century Britain. I leant my copy to my best friend to read so no photo unfortunately, but head over to Pluto Press to purchase this amazing title.

Where can readers find you online?

You can find me talking all things books on Instagram at @portias.pages or tweeting about publishing/books/general life over at @portias_pages on twitter.


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