In celebration of our 25th anniversary of children's publishing we are delighted to present the ninth edition of Onion Origins.
A happy surprise
When I was at school I loved to read, liked writing and hated maths. At uni I did a Bachelor of Media in Writing, which luckily required no maths skills whatsoever. While I was studying I had the idea that I’d like to work as a journalist so I did some work experience at newspapers and magazines, but when I graduated there weren’t any full-time jobs in journalism so I accepted a job as a marketing and publicity co-ordinator with a local book distributor. I learnt a huge amount while I was there and discovered that the publicity side of working on the books was what I enjoyed most. My boss had previously worked at Allen & Unwin and after hearing her talk about A&U, I thought that might be somewhere I’d like to work one day.
After two years at the book distributor I decided I wanted a change, and I left for London with a working visa and not nearly enough warm clothes. When I arrived I was fortunate enough to be offered a job as a publicist for a small publisher based in London. Before I started with the publisher I went to the London Book Fair as a volunteer. I still remember how big it felt when I walked through the doors, and how insignificant I felt in comparison. I had a great time there and met some lovely people, the most lovely of all being Bridget Shine, the Director of the Independent Publisher’s Guild, who was endlessly patient and kind.
I lived in London for a year and then decided I missed the sun and blue sky too much to stay another year. So I travelled around Europe a little before I moved back to Sydney where I was offered a job as a publicist at HarperCollins on a twelve-month maternity-cover contract. As the year was coming to an end, I applied for a job as the Children’s and Young Adult Publicist at Allen & Unwin. I had always loved children’s books and had worked on some great children’s and YA titles while I was at HarperCollins. Lo and behold, a happy surprise: I got the job, and I was delighted.
I started at A&U the week of our annual sales conference and those first few days are still a blur, but after being here for just over a year now, I still feel as happy as I did that first week. Allen & Unwin is filled with kind, funny, generous and supportive people who all LOVE books. The children’s team are endlessly hard-working, kind, patient and best of all, fun! It’s been a fantastic twelve months and I’ve worked on some amazing books with some incredible authors – including the fabulous Libba Bray. Here we are at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival.
I can’t wait to see what the next twelve months will hold!
- Lara Wallace, Publicist