Smart Quill Editorial About the Editor

What I Read (Part I)

Posted on March 31st, 2012

Mostly I read submissions. Every evening after work I come home with bundles of paper printed double-sided and fixed with paperclips. (No, I don’t own a kindle. Yes, I realise I should. It’s a long story.)

But sometimes, on very happy days, I get to go and buy REAL books. Little bound pages with a front and back cover that describes in pictures and words what I am about to discover.

I have bought three books recently:

1. Pure by Andrew Miller. It’s short, a spectacularly easy read, and whoppingly atmospheric. Set in Paris, it reminded me very much of Perfume.

2. Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson: Top of the charts at the moment, I found this GRIPPING. And it really messes with your mind. I love books like that.

3. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: Described as Breakfast at Tiffany’s meets The Great Gatsby. But I really don’t think it is. It’s somehow fiercer, and overtly unsettling. Good though. And wow, that cover.


Interview with an Illustrator

Posted on March 29th, 2012

Throughout the year, I will be doing a series of short interviews with people in publishing: authors, agents, scouts, editors, publishers, producers and digital consultants. So without further ado, I am delighted to introduce you to Holly Swain, picture book illustrator extraordinaire.

How did you get into illustrating books for children? 
I always drew as a kid and was always inventing little worlds for my characters to go in. I went to uni to do an Illustration Degree, and tried every type of illustration, but always came back to books. I found it hard to come up with just one illustration for something, and would always produce a few alternatives, so I think I tend to naturally think sequentially. I then did a Masters Degree in ‘Narrative Illustration and Editorial Design’, which allowed me to experiment with the idea of a book.  After college I illustrated some educational books and then I got my first commission as I got my agent, Eunice McMullen, who went on to get me further commissions.

Which book are you most proud of and why?
It’s hard to choose a favourite, but I think the book I’m most proud of is ‘The Mysterious Case Of The Missing Honey’ by Claire Freedman. It turned out how I’d imagined it, I was given quite a free reign with the design and compositions and the Art Director understood what I was trying to achieve with it. Their designer then just ran with it and I think that comes across; great printing too.

What advice would you give illustrators/authors hoping to get their book published?
My advice would be to do your research into the publishers that you are going to see. Look at the books they publish and see if yours ‘fits’. Go and see the Art Director, listen to what they say about your work and their advice. Some will like it, some won’t. If you find one who really likes your work, keep in touch. They might not have a commission then and there, but send them copies of your new work , so that you are remembered.  Above all persevere!