My very first holiday job was in a bookshop and my first job after university was editorial secretary at Macmillan. I was always going to work in publishing – having found an answer to the interminable question: ‘what are you are going to do when you grow up’ aged about twelve, I didn’t swerve. It meant I had a small crisis when, in my late twenties and then an editor, I lost my job. I went for several TV production interviews before joining Boxtree, then a small, independent specialising in TV tie-ins. We had no money, we were all learning on the job, it was incredibly hard work, but it was a team of wonderful people and it was five years of brilliant experience. From there I went to ITV to set up their book division and then moved to Transworld, at first as Publishing Director for Eden Project Books but then broadening my list to include natural history, science and a more general list of non-fiction and some fiction too.
A book I’d recommend to everyone: I find it impossible to answer questions about single literary influences, or favourite books. The answer has to be the book I’m working on now. Looking back, my beloved childhood books were all rooted in the countryside – The Little Grey Men, Tarka¸ The Snow Goose ... There is a line leading from there to John Lewis-Stempel’s work and the landscapes in Rachel Joyce’s novels. Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood is a favourite. The Examined Life is unforgettable. Everyone should read Middlemarch. And Seamus Heaney.