I worked at Penguin Books for many years. After a short spell in Penguin Press, I moved over to Penguin General, and more precisely to Hamish Hamilton – the wonderfully enlightened imprint which, under the leadership of Simon Prosser, publishes such authors as Zadie Smith, Ali Smith, Mohsin Hamid, Alain de Botton, Paul Murray, Dave Eggers, Paul Theroux and W.G. Sebald.
They were good years – especially 2006, the year our authors won the Man Booker (Kiran Desai), the Orange Prize (Zadie Smith) and the Whitbread (Hilary Spurling). And being an editor at Penguin was a near-perfect job in itself (and kept me focused and head down for eleven years or so), but also a kind of apprenticeship for thinking more widely about writing, writers and the publishing industry.
I’ve been a freelancer since 2011. Since then I’ve done many things, some of which I’ll list below.
I’ve been very involved with The School of Life, which was founded by Alain de Botton in 2008. It’s been making its name since then by offering good ideas for everyday life through courses, events, talks and books (which is where I came in).
I’ve worked with the Collector’s Library, a publisher of beautiful hardbacks, writing introductions and helping them expand their list of titles.
I’ve compiled an anthology of love poetry for the Collector’s Library.
I’ve taught at Brighton University as part of the ‘Work Write Live’ initiative, giving sessions on creative writing and leading one-day workshops.
I’ve taught on the Paths to Publication module on the MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University.
I’ve worked with Spread the Word, the London literature development organisation, as a workshop leader and mentor.
I’ve worked with New Writing South, a creative writing organisation for the South East, as a ‘writer guide’ and mentor.
I’ve run workshops for people who have nothing to do with writing but who know that the better they can write, the better they can do what they actually do.
And I’ve continued to edit manuscripts, too.
In other words: I’ve been the lynchpin for some inspiring and lovely publishing projects, I’ve immersed myself in manuscripts, I’ve helped authors get words down on paper, I’ve done my best to inspire writers as well as people who aren’t writers, and I’ve pondered thousands of love poems in the name of editorship.