Macmillan, Harper Collins and Walker Books

The final day saw visits to Macmillan Children’s Books, Harper Collins and Walker Books.

Nigel and Rachel took students to see Macmillan art director Chris Inns and his design team in the morning. Chris was extremely generous with his time, giving us all a great insight into how children’s books are commissioned, designed and illustrated. Strong ideas and strong characters were the top of his wish list in an illustrator. Interestingly he was positive about the future of young audience illustration, saying that in his opinion “I think its a golden age for illustration” . Of course we live in a period of intense competition but it was reassuring for someone in Chris’s position to say this. He also was very complimentary about Falmouth Illustration. We will make sure that we get a good number of Macmillan prize entries in this year…

Tom took a group to see Julian Humphries at Harper Collins. Of course Harper Collins are one of the big publishers and so it was a very interesting visit for students. The parent company has many imprints, including 4th Estate, William Collins, Borough Press and more.

Today, HarperCollins UK publishes around 1,000 books a year. Their authors include worldwide bestsellers such as Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, George RR Martin, and perennial fiction favourites Bernard Cornwell, Wilbur Smith, Patricia Cornwell and Cecelia Ahern. In non-fiction, they publish such luminaries as Max Hastings, Nigel Slater, Professor Brian Cox, Lorraine Pascale and Lena Dunham.

Their award-winning children’s division publishes the most talented authors around, including Michael Morpurgo, David Walliams, Judith Kerr, Derek Landy, Oliver Jeffers and Holly Smale, alongside all-time classics such as Paddington Bear and Dr Seuss.

In the afternoon Nigel and Tom took around 25 students to visit Louise Power at Walker Books. Louise, as ever, gave a fantastic presentation that is borne from years of experience in the industry. She reiterated that Walker look for strong emotional connections with the reader and also highly value strong drawing skills. Once she had run through Chris Haughton’s brilliant book, ‘A Bit Lost’, she used theatre as an analogy for the presentation of narrative within a book where the characters are ‘actors on a set’. She also said to students, ‘don’t get obsessed with backgrounds, your characters are far more important’. Once a gain a great visit to round the week off with.

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