What I’m reading this Christmas: Amanda Diaz, HarperCollins Publishers

Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Amanda Diaz.

Thank you for having me!

You’re a publicist at HarperCollins Publishers 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 on.

HarperCollins Australia (based in Sydney) is known for its children’s/YA books as well as its adult list. Which do you work on/prefer?

I’m the publicity manager for HarperCollins Children’s Books, which for me is a dream job as I absolutely love kids and YA books.

You’re a publicist – what does a publicist do? AD pic

Basically the job is about creating exposure for books in order to drive awareness and sales. That’s not a very sexy way to put it, but that’s the bare bones. It requires being very calm, patient and organised.

A publicist works to get attention for books through social media, blogs and websites, festivals, signings, conventions and school visits as well as newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. Media exposure can come in a number of forms – from giveaways and extracts to reviews and interviews.

How did you get this job?

While I was interning in the HarperCollins editorial department during my last semester of uni, I was in the right place at the right time to be hired for an admin assistant role in publishing operations. My dream was to work in the children’s team though, so when the publicist role came up, I went for it.

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

I’m very proud to have worked with Children’s Laureate Jackie French on ten books so far. All her work is so excellent, it’s a privilege to be involved in a small way. It’s also been very exciting to work on Veronica Roth’s Divergent series – especially with the recent release of the movie.

Touring with George RR Martin in November last year was also absolutely unforgettable. He is a literary rockstar and so lovely and gracious to boot.

What is different/special about HarperCollins? 

In a business-sense, we have a fantastic mix of commercial and literary stories. There’s truly something for every reader. On a personal level, I’m lucky enough to work with the best team ever at HarperCollins Children’s Books. Everyone is so smart, passionate, hilarious, open and creative. Sometimes we have to pretend not to be having as much fun as we really are, lest others think we’re not actually working.

All the truth that's in meWhat are some awards HarperCollins has won that have particular significance for you?

The Australian Centre for Youth Literature runs the annual Inky Awards – where teen judges and readers decide on their favourite local and international YA titles – and this year, the Silver Inky was won by All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry. This is a book that was very special to everyone in house and to see it receive such fantastic recognition from readers was so wonderful and affirming.

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

We have to work smarter in competing for people’s attention spans, but the key to doing this is always going to be finding really excellent stories.

If you’re in a book club, what book have you enjoyed discussing?

I’m not in a book club – I’ve tried it out a couple of times, but I always get too impatient with how long it takes for the other members to finish reading the book! But I do run our YA Twitter account – @HarperCollinsYA and love talking to our followers but the books we’re all reading.

Once Upon an AlphabetWhat are some must-reads over Christmas?

Young kids – and their parents and grandparents – will absolutely fall in love with both Once Upon an Alphabet and Count my Christmas Kisses, while cheeky youngsters will adore There is a Monster Under my Christmas Tree Who Farts.

Withering-by-Sea is a fantastic middle-grade Victorian fantasy adventure that young girls will NEED. (It’s the prettiest book you’ve ever seen.)

(See my post on it here)

My YA summer favourites are A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray and Jessica Shirvington’s Disruption duology. You can’t go past these picks for action-packed reads with a dash of swoonworthy romance.

The ultimate must-read though is Jackie French’s stunning WWII epic To Love a Sunburnt Country (available 1st December). This is the best thing Jackie has ever written. You won’t be able to put it down, you’ll probably cry and you’ll certainly never forget it.

What is your secret reading pleasure?

My secret reading pleasure is definitely re-reading. You’d be embarrassed for me if I revealed how many times I’ve re-read favourite books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Pride and Prejudice.Disruption

Thanks very much for speaking with us, Amanda.

It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.




Did Jessica Shirvington predict the Apple Watch?

The destructive technology in Jessica Shirvington’s duology may not be as futuristic as it seems 

When a certain multinational corporation announced the creation of the Apple Watch, 9780732298609Jessica Shirvington fans were buzzing.

Not because they were excited about Apple’s newest product but because the watch bears an eerie resemblance to the M-band technology used in Shirvington’s Disruption duology.

‘When I started writing, I never guessed that, before the second book was even released, a similar concept of technology and design would be hitting the ‘real-world’ market,’ says Shirvington. ‘It’s exciting, but after having taken just one fictional road exploring how far things could go…it is somewhat daunting as well.’

An evolution of the smartphone, the M-band can do everything from monitoring your heartbeat to determining the identity of your perfect match.  The technology, created with seemingly good intentions, goes on to ruin lives and tear families apart.

Buy the book here…

Player Profile: Jessica Shirvington, author of Between the Lives

jess-shirvingtonJessica Shirvington, author of Between the Lives

Tell us about your latest creation…

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ‘other’ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she’s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other. With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she’s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?

Where are you from / where do you call home?

Sydney, Australia

between-the-livesWhen you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?

When I was a kid I wanted to become a vet.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?

Always my most recent work because I feel like with each book I am more developed as a storyteller.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?

I have an office at home. It is extremely disorganised and messy, but somehow I know where everything is.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?

I read a lot of YA and adult. I love contemporary, paranormal, fantasy. I’ve been reading quite a bit of magic lately and I like the odd dystopian.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?

As a kid, I loved Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia – still do!

If you were a literary character, who would you be?

I really don’t know. (sorry!)

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?

Ski! I love the snow. Hang out with my family (boring but awesome!). Try to avoid the gym.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?

Favourite drink is probably Coke although I have a love hate relationship with it! Favourite food…I’m a big fan of soft, runny cheese.

Who is your hero? Why?

My mum. She raised me and my three siblings. Anyone who can put up with us and manage to still have a full headcount by the time we were all adults is pretty incredible!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?

Defining them somehow. I think we need some kind of coding system informing readers of age appropriateness, content, if published by a publishing house or self published, etc. I think readers deserve to have more information and know what they are paying for.

Follow Jessica:

Website URL: http://www.jessicashirvington.com/
Blog URL: http://www.jessicashirvington.com/blog/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/Shirvington?ref=hl
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/JessShirvington