Smart Quill Editorial About the Editor

Smart Quill Tutorial One

Posted on March 25th, 2013

Characters and Characterisation

Interview with an Editorial Director

Posted on March 13th, 2013

Just in time for the Bologna Book Fair, we have an update from the desk of Mr Ben Horslen, Editorial Director at Puffin. He has very kindly answered some quick quessies for us! I absolutely agree with his point about humour, and in fact Danny, The Champion of the World is my favourite Dahl book too. So not only does he have exceptional taste, but his insight into commissioning is astute. Ben is at @BenHorslen if you want to follow him on twitter, and describes himself as a: “Book lover, bardolator and rum drinker”. Cool.

Are you seeing a lot of a certain genre or theme at the moment?

Perhaps inspired by the success of books like My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece and Wonder, there have been a lot of middle-grade/young YA submissions with big emotional themes – bereavement, dealing with disability, family breakdowns.

Is there anything in particular you are looking for?

Barnstorming, swashbuckling adventure for 9+; in YA, a brilliant new real-life British voice to stand up against the big guns from the US; I have a hankering too for a modern day War of the Worlds. Also, more humour – in acquisitions meetings you often hear the verdict that a manuscript is too bleak, too complex, too literary, but no editor in the history of publishing ever turned down a book for being too funny.

What book did you wish you commissioned and why?

I’ll give you two – Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, for showing that the bucolic 1970s English countryside could be the setting for a properly thrilling adventure; and Every Day by David Levithan, a book that perfectly marries high concept with truthful, arresting characterisation.