What I’m reading this Christmas: Claire Smith, Walker Books

Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Claire Smith. Spark

You’re the marketing assistant at Walker Books, Australia, and you’re going to share your Christmas picks with us. But first let’s find out about you and some books you’ve been working with.

Walker Books  (based in Sydney)  is known for its children’s and YA books. Which do you work on/prefer?

Being in marketing and publicity, I’m lucky enough to get to work on most books that we publish. Children’s publishing is one of those great industries where you really do see a variety of work from a wide variety of people. We often have to stop in meetings and ask “Are we really having this intense discussion about a book on the history of poo?” It really does make for some good stories when people ask what you do. From a reading perspective, I really get into our dystopian YA like Rachael Craw’s Spark, but I also love a beautiful picture book and am a big Jon Klassen fan.

This is not my HatYou’re a marketing assistant – what does a marketing assistant do?

A marketing assistant is really a team all-rounder. I get to liaise with our international offices in London and Boston which allows me a sneak peek at some of the great international titles we sell. I’m also lucky enough to work on our community partnerships and get to donate our books to amazing causes and help to get our authors out to smaller community festivals and charity events. The children’s book industry is so incredible and supportive, it is amazing to be a part of and to keep meeting so many great people in the industry.

How did you get this job?

In 2012 I completed a Masters of Publishing at Sydney Uni. This involved getting to know the business and allowed me to complete an internship as part of my studies. I interned for a few months in the publicity department at Hachette and fell in love with the hustle and bustle of being part of a marketing and publicity team. That experience helped me get the job at Walker, which I am incredibly grateful for. For anyone looking to work in publishing, an internship really is the way to get your foot in the door and find out if this industry is one you can see yourself in.

I suspect you love all the books you promote, but could you tell us about some that you are particularly proud of.

I do love all the books we promote! I am especially proud of Spark by Rachael Craw. It was one we all loved as soon as we got our hands on the manuscript. After some incredible work by our editorial team, it was even more spectacular. And my friend Amy did an amazing cover for it that everyone raves about. We met with Rachael and talked about what we can do for her marketing wise, but also what she can do for herself. She took like a duck to water with social media and has been winning fans left, right and centre. We are all really proud of how well Spark and Rachael have done, and so excited for the next book in the series!

What is different/special about Walker Books? 

Where to start with what is special about Walker?!? It is honestly one of the most inclusive and joyous places to be. The people are hard-working, funny, kind and above all so passionate about what they do and the children’s book industry. It is these wonderful people that really help to make the books what they are – their creativity, their eye for quality and their drive to produce the best children’s books available. We are all grateful for the opportunity to work and learn at Walker, and even if we sometimes feel tired or busy, we will all strive to do the best work we can. It really is an awesome place to work, especially for someone just starting out in the industry – getting to learn from these people every day is so wonderful. And getting to be friends with them? Cherry on top!

What are some awards Walker has won that have particular significance for you?

I recently got to attend the KOALA Awards with Bob Graham who won Honour Book for A Bus Called Heaven. It was so A Bus Called Heavenexciting to attend an awards ceremony in a hall full of kids who had been reading all year and who had voted for their favourite books. That really is why we do what we do – so kids can continue to read quality books. It was also really exciting to get to spend time with Bob Graham – who is an absolute master at what he does and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.

What do you see as the way forward in the book industry?

I think the book industry – especially the children’s industry – has a bright future ahead. Seeing how hard authors, illustrators and publishers work can only mean good things for the industry in general and great things for readers. The children’s industry is also so well connected that everyone who is a part of it is constantly doing their part to make it vibrant, inclusive and fun to be a part of.

What are some must-reads over Christmas?

Christmas reading for me is always those big tomes that were a little too daunting earlier in the year. Last Christmas I managed to get through The Luminaries before the new year started – it’s great to be able to give all your attention to a book without anything else getting in the way.

The LuminariesWhat is your secret reading pleasure?

At the moment I’ve become a little obsessed with crime fiction. I flew through all three Gillian Flynn novels, including Gone Girl, and am now reading anything I can get my hands on by the wonderful Irish author Tana French. Her prose is fantastic and I love anything with a good twist at the end. I don’t know that much about Ireland, but her novels are great regardless.

Thanks very much for speaking with us, Claire. The Secret Place




Prepare Yourself for these Film Adaptations

The summer is almost upon us, which means the season for blockbuster movies is here. With the successful adaptation of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I thought I would talk about some other movies that come from books. Like me, I am sure a lot of people out there would prefer to read the book before seeing the movies so we might be too busy reading to find time to see this films which are out now or coming really soon. I am going exclude The Hobbit and Mockingjay simply because I believe everyone is aware of these books.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Starring Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth, this psychological thriller tells the story of a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia. Every night she goes to sleep and wakes up with no memory of the past ten years. Slowly she tries to reconstruct her memory but how much can she trust what she wrote over the past ten years. S. J. Watson’s debut novel has been a literary sensation and now is our chance to see how it translates onto the silver screen.

A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block

Matt Scudder is Lawrence Block’s offering to hardboiled crime novels. With seventeen books in the series, this character has been around since 1976. An alcoholic ex-cop who quit the NYPD after accidentally causing the death of a young girl, he now does favours for people who in return give him gifts of money. Scudder was portrayed in 1986 by Jeff Bridges in Eight Million Ways to Die (book 5) and now Liam Neeson is taking on the role in A Walk Among the Tombstones (book 10).

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper

Jonathan Trooper is the author of six comedy/drama novels but he may be best known for the television series Banshee that he created with David Schickler. This is Where I Leave You is the story the Foxman family. After their father dies, the family finds out that his dying request was for them to spend seven days together; his attempt to bring his family back together has hilarious outcomes. This is a story of a dysfunctional family, full of raw emotions, staring Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda and Tina Fey.

The Drop by Dennis Lehane

The movie was adapted from Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue” and is the last movie from the late James Gandolfini. A lonely bartender planning suicide finds himself crossing paths with the Chechen mafia. Typical to Lehane’s style you can expect a fast paced and highly thrilling movie. Featuring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and as mentioned before the late, great Gandolfini.

Serena by Ron Rash

I have a working theory that every time Jennifer Lawrence stars in a movie with Bradley Cooper she gets an Oscar nomination. Set in the Depression era Serena is a French/American drama about newlyweds trying to run a timber business. Struggling to keep the business going, things become more complicated for George Pemberton when he finds out his wife cannot bear children.

There are plenty to keep you going; in 2015 there will be plenty more. Including Insurgent by Veronica Roth, 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Inferno by Dan Brown. We can go on and on with the upcoming film adaptations, what are you looking forward to seeing adapted?