Monday, 21 September 2009

Time to blog? I must be doing something wrong . . .

Well, maybe not quite. It's been a month between blogs and I am just squeezing this one in after a hastily scoffed down dinner of - no I can't possibly confess the shameful depths to which I have sunk in search of quick fix nutrition (if you can call what I have just eaten nutritious . . . )

Anyway, enough about my shocking culinary habits (I am usually a bit of a domestic goddess), it is ten to ten and I have just got in from evening work event #1 of three this week. Now I'm not looking from sympathy, far from it, I am in fact just making it quite clear that I don't fall into the "if you're a book publicist and you're not in a state of anxiety/stress from August to October then you're doing it wrong."

I can't remember who said that first (I believe it was a member of the twitteratti) and of course I paraphrase, but you get the gist. These are busy times. Exciting, but busy and we don't get a lot of time to stop and reflect. At least not until November. I will try to adopt a little and often approach to the ol' blog to keep it on its feet, but alas, I'm not too good at being brief. At least not anywhere outside Twitter, where I am forced to keep to 140 characters.

This weekend was the YLG (Youth Libraries Group) Conference at Warwick University. Basically, a load of fantastic library folk get together and talk about books, libraries, reading, all the important stuff and they invite a bunch of us publishers to join in the dialogue. It's brilliant for us as we get to meet the people who are taking our little treasures out into the world and putting them into the hands of readers and it's great for them because we bring along some of our lovely authors and illustrators to join in their discussions, which I know means a lot to them.

It was especially nice for us this year as the YLG are the people who bestow the Kate Greenaway medal upon their top illustrator for the year, and as I've probably mentioned once, twice or a gazillion times, this years recipient was Catherine Rayner. One of the highlights of the conference is the re-presentation of the medal, giving the wider YLG contingent a chance to hear from the winner, and a big dinner afterwards to celebrate. This meant that Catherine and I got to set on the 'top table' with some of the committee and some other special guests, which was rather nice. It was a bit like being at a wedding! I got to sit next to Wendy Cooling, who is a lovely and fascinating lady and has the breadth of knowledge of children's books which I aspire to posess one day.

We also had the opportunity to hang out with our fellow publicists which is always a great laugh, but that's about all I can say on that matter. What happens at YLG, stays at YLG.

Sadly, being the busy period that it is at the mo', there is no rest for the wicked and it was straight back to the office today. I got some good news about a venue for our Big Draw event, (More on that ASAP!) and then this evening it was off to Farringdon for Words and Pictures: What Use are Picture Books? at the Free Word Centre. The Free Word Centre is a fantastic new centre dedicated to the promotion of the written and spoken word and the protection of freedom of expression. This evening was my first visit, but hopefully we should see plenty more brilliant things come out of this unique space. Check out the website to find out more about it They are running a programme of free events up until the 9th of October to celebrate the opening of the centre, so it is well worth a look. This evening's event was hosted by the lovely people at Booktrust and was a panel event featuring Children's Laureate Anthony Browne, along with the fantastic Emily Gravett and our very own Catherine Rayner. Holding court, expertly I must say, was children's book reviewer, Nicolette Jones. Nicolette asked the three illustrators all sorts of pertinent questions about their development as illustrators, what impact picture books had on them as children, and even offered up anecdotes featuring her own children. (Apparently when she suggested her daughter might not be the target audience for a picture book, the fifteen year old asked "Since when is anyone too old for a picture book?" "That's my girl!" conceded Nicolette.)

These really are exciting times for the picture book. There is a whole wealth of talent right across the industry at the moment, and Anthony Browne as Laureate, but foremost as one of our best illustrators, seems well placed to fly the picture book flag and be noticed. The Tigers will certainly be supporting him every step of the way!

It is now quarter to eleven, and all hopes of an early(ish) night seem dashed. Forgive me if I have rambled/been boring. I really am rather tired. Nighty, night!