Monday, 28 January 2013

Pride and Prejudice, 200 years on... by Stephanie Burgis

28 January 1813 saw Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice published for the first time, 200 years on Stephanie Burgis tells us how Austen continues to inspire her. 

I still remember my dad opening the big hardcover book. I was eight years old, and he was about to start reading me a new bedtime book. “This one is special,” he said. “I think you’ll like it.”

The book was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice - and he was right, on both counts. It was special…and from the first chapter onwards, I was enthralled.

Jane Austen
Something about that glimpse into a different society, filled with balls and visits and rigid social rules about how men and women could interact, completely fascinated me. Having to say yes or no to a potential husband after only meeting him four or five times, always in public? Having to risk your whole future on how he’d seemed to be at a few balls and a few supervised visits? Well, no wonder Lizzie Bennett, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, makes some mistakes about the men she meets, based on those first impressions!

The whole Regency-era society felt every bit as foreign and as incredible as any of the imaginary worlds in the fantasy novels I loved. And when you add in the passionately-felt romance and the sharp, biting humour - because Jane Austen’s novels are ruthlessly funny, especially in the way she pokes through all her characters’ illusions and pretences - oh, I was lost. I was a fan forever.

Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy
After my dad finished reading me Pride and Prejudice, I immediately read it to myself. Then I watched the old movie with Laurence Olivier and the new (at that point, in the 1980s) BBC miniseries version. And of course I hunted down every other Austen novel, from Sense and Sensibility (which turned out to be my favourite, as a kid) to the “novels” and “histories” that she wrote as a teenager, which show where her brilliant adult writing had its roots.

(It’s so encouraging, when you’re a kid who wants to be a writer yourself, to read your favourite writer’s childhood writings! There are moments of great humour in Austen’s earliest works, but of course they aren’t anything like what her adult books would become…so they showed me that I could get better and better, too.)

Now, I’m 35, and I can’t count how many times I’ve re-read Jane Austen’s novels, or how many movie versions of each of them I’ve watched. I don’t love every single Austen novel, but I admire every one, and I learn from all of them - as a writer and as a person - every time I read them.

And oh, the ones I love - Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey (which I read again and again as I wrote A Most Improper Magick and A Tangle of Magicks) - those, I really, REALLY love. They’re imprinted in my bones.

When I was creating Kat Stephenson’s family, in my Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, I based some of their situation on Austen’s own family - she, too, grew up in a house with lots of siblings but not much money, and with a father who was a minister. Austen’s father, like Kat’s father, used to hold a Fellowship at Oxford before he married, and he took in students to help make ends meet, just as Kat’s father does. Austen’s family, like Kat’s, was on the lower end of gentility - respectable but not wealthy and certainly not invited to the highest social circles - although not for any of the scandalous magical reasons involved in Kat’s family history!

Every time I sat down for a writing session, I spent 10 minutes reading through Jane Austen’s letters first, to try to imprint that Regency style in my head.

Now it’s the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, the novel I first fell in love with twenty-seven years ago. I can’t imagine my life without it, either as a reader or as a writer. I’m so glad that I don’t have to.

I hope people keep falling in love with her novels for the next 200 years and beyond.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Editorial intern Tara reflects on her first two weeks

I'm rounding the bend of two weeks interning with Templar Publishing. So far I've built an entire zoo, remapped the world and scribbled a few lines for someone hidden in Santa's sleigh. As you can imagine, it's been great fun.

In constructing the zoo, I learned a lot about the design, production and editorial steps involved in creating a pop-out book, in remapping the world I got involved in Americanis(z)ing some text and the lines I scribbled became back cover copy. So, not only fun but educational.

What else did I get up to? Let's see, I did the usual scanning and other admin tasks, got to attend meetings, learned how to use Quark, conducted research and topped-and-tailed a fiction title. But my favourite parts were working on the company's catalogue (getting familiar with all the coming-soon titles), getting to read a manuscript going through its final proofread (including the notes and comments of the proofreader) and visiting the book room (where I was invited to borrow what books I will).

I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks with the team!

What's it like to do work experience at Templar?

Templar take on people for short work experience placements and longer-term internships. We've been fortunate enough to have Peter, who's on his gap year, in the editorial department for two weeks. Read on to find out how he got on!

I am extremely grateful to Templar for letting me spend a fortnight here. One of the many great things about my work experience was that I got a true insight into how the nuts and bolts of the industry, by performing tasks that actually contributed in an environment that was pressure-free thanks to the lovely people I met and worked with.  Some jobs took a couple of hours, whilst some took the whole fortnight and it was fantastic to muck in with everything from the menial to the mentally challenging. Even reorganising the oven-hot storeroom had its merits; I got a cheeky look at loads of Templar titles whilst getting a workout!

I really appreciate the effort put in by the editors to find me a variety of tasks, some of which were creative such as writing visual acuity questions for Templar’s revamp of the Little Grey Rabbit books and coming up with names and teasers for characters in the latest Mamoko picture book. These two tasks were great fun and I fell in love with the books I was working on, though I’m sure some of the stuff I came up with is more cringeworthy than useful! One of the highlights was contributing some ideas to the back cover copy of a new novel called The Testing; getting to read the first few chapters in development stage and trying my hand at writing a blurb was both enjoyable and tricky. It was very satisfying to see that a couple of my suggestions were used for the final product.
I loved doing the submissions – not for the sadistic pleasure of stamping budding children’s authors’ dreams into oblivion, but for seeing the vast, wacky and untamed imaginations of people all over the country and overseas. It was an amazing feeling to find something that I found genuinely entertaining and passing it up. I also tried out quite a bit of proofreading. As Katie said, it’s what people think she does all day when she tells them she works in publishing, so it was really helpful to do some tests for new editors and check titles in the pipeline. I think I got better at it as I went along – I became more acquainted with the symbols and what to look out for.

I was very fortunate to have such a valuable experience here. The office has a wonderfully friendly and hardworking atmosphere, and it hasn’t lost an ounce of character from the last place. Everyone I talked to was very kind and thoughtful – I want to thank you all for providing me with tasks and helping me out, as I’m sure you would have preferred not to have some upstart whippersnapper stealing your desks and drinking your tea. Special thanks to Katie, Jenny, Hannah and Liza who provided me with great jobs and made me feel at home. Thanks to Templar, I hope my future home is in publishing.

Guest Post: Ophelia Redpath

Ophelia Redpath's beautiful new picture book, The Lemur's Tale, publishes with us January 2013. Ophelia has written us a guest post all about her inspiration for the book and her fantastic family history!
My new picture book, The Lemur’s Tale, has been a long time in the making. I’m a very slow worker, and am always amazed when I finish anything!

Now I’m smiling, knowing that my ring-tailed lemur, Earl Grey, has finally scurried into the shops. He is happy to wear a dust-jacket and bed down onto a shelf for a while. But he’s getting curious about his next leap. Perhaps he’ll find himself in a school, or a hospital, or a library. Or, best of all, by a child’s bed, slowly getting to know his reader, sharing dreams of the world he belonged to……..

The inspirations behind this book are fourfold: There is David Attenborough. There’s my grandfather. There’s my grandmother. And there’s my daughter, Sally.

As did many British children of the 70s and 80s, I grew up watching Attenborough’s Wildlife on One. When I was about nine, lemurs sprang nimbly onto the screen. I immediately fell for their stripes, their poise, the way they communicated, and their lush, leafy neighbourhood. At one stage I think I wanted to be a lemur. But growing a tail was tricky, and I had homework to do, so I grew upwards and went to boarding school instead.

My grandfather, Leonard Campbell Taylor, was an artist, brought up in the Victorian era. Known as “The English Vermeer”, he painted scenes of intimate moments staged in structured interiors. All his works involve an interplay of light and shade, and mark out the intense character in his sitters’ faces.

My Grandmother, Brenda Moore, was a professional artist herself. When I was small, I watched, agog, as she turned water-logged paper into delicately sculptural flowers, glowing with colour. In 1986, at a loose end, and with no career plan, I stayed with her in her old mill which smelled of incense and dried bulrushes. We drew, painted and squiffled ginger wine. Soon, she and I were planning exhibitions, pricing paintings, arguing about titles, framing badly with araldite and a DIY mitring kit, swearing and laughing all day. It was all such fun, so companionable and so free, I simply didn’t realise I’d become a professional painter and would remain one for 25 years. She gave me a faith in creating something out of nothing. I had no obvious plan, no letters after my name and nothing in the bank! Trying to fit this way of life into the world of intermittent recessions and a fickle art trade has been my challenge, but one that I have not regretted, as without it, I wouldn’t have my lemur!

Ophelia feeding the Lemur's - photo by David Johnson of the Royston Weekly
For more pictures, visit our Facebook page:
I started my book four years ago when my daughter, Sally was born. Spending time with her changed my tack on story-making. As soon as she was able to talk, she told me stories. As I told her mine in return, she added to them with great purpose, using very specific and interesting details. I’ve loved them all. Since then I’ve been mulling over what children like to think about; what can weigh on their minds, what makes them laugh, and how story-telling can provide companionship for them through their ups and downs.

During these last few years, there have been many helping hands along the way. Great support from Mum, family, and friends; a wonderful writing class in Cambridge, and piles of magical children’s picture books to inspire me.

I’m delighted David Ford and Brett Brubaker took me on and introduced my work to Templar; and that Templar said “Yes”! I’m deeply grateful to Amelia Edwards, the Art Editor of Art Editors, whose experienced hands I felt so safe in; to Penny Worms, Literary Editor who tended to each word with such loving care – even after bedtime. And to Daniel Devlin, who patiently coaxed my illustrations to settle down and behave themselves on the pages. I feel very fortunate to have worked with such sensitive and knowledgeable people.

Hand-signed and numbered Limited edition prints of illustrations from The Lemur’s Tale are available at Password – littleghost

See more information about my book at My other works – originals, prints and cards are represented at

Design internship on offer at Templar

Templar is dedicated to providing high-quality internships across our departments that give the publishing stars of the future the opportunity to ask questions, gain experience and hit the ground running in a busy children's publishing house.

With that in mind, our design department is offering a six-week part-time internship to start on Monday 11th February, providing a rare glimpse into the world of design and paper engineering at one of the most respected studios in the business. Our placement is structured to give you a real insight into the work of a book designer. Coming in three days per week, you'll be assisting designers who work on picture books, novelty books and non-fiction, helping to source illustrators for upcoming projects and contributing to the team effort to prepare for the Bologna Book Fair. You'll learn about producing sales material, get an insight into paper engineering and understand the process of making a book from the perspective of a publishing house.

Knowledge of Quark Xpress and/or Adobe Creative Suite is desirable and, it goes without saying, an eye for design and a love of beautiful books is a must! We can offer travel expenses of up to £15 per day and a small amount of subsistence. If you’d like to apply for the position, please send a covering letter and your CV to with the subject heading ‘Design internship’.

Deadline for applications: 31st January 2013

If you'd like to know what it's like to intern at Templar, check out these blog posts:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Deborah White's exclusive Nefertaru story!

New for January 2013: Deceit by Deborah White!
Paperback 978 1 84877 413 1 £6.99

In the follow-up to the thriller Wickedness, modern-day teen Claire and her seventeenth-century counterpart Margrat discover it is impossible to escape the clutches of the sinister Doctor, who has pursued them across time.

What do you think of our new look covers for the series? 

To celebrate the publication of Deceit, Deborah White is touring UK blogs with a serialisation of her untold story of ancient Egyptian Nefertaru, dancer at the Temple of Sekhmet and the mummy who inspired White's story. 

Follow her story:

Monday 7th January - The Bookbag

Thursday 10th January - Books for Company

Wednesday 16th January - Totally Bookalicious

Tuesday 22nd January - Bookbabblers

Friday 25th January - Dark Readers

Keep up to date with all Deborah's news on her website, or follow her on Twitter - @DeborahJWhite

Monday, 14 January 2013

Karen Saunders UK blog tour!

This week, Me, Suzy P author, Karen Saunders is taking part in a virtual blog tour. 
Follow her guest posts on the blogs below to find out more about Karen, Suzy and the gang!

14th January

15th January
Bookster Reviews

16th January
I Want to Read That

17th January

18th January
Bookcrazed Reviews

Thursday, 3 January 2013

We're looking for an International Sales Intern!

International Sales Internship – Templar Publishing, Dorking based (expenses paid)

We are currently looking for an organised and enthusiastic intern with an interest in children’s books for our International Rights/UK Special Sales department.

The internship will include both International Sales and UK Special Sales administration support. Duties are as follows; helping to draw up and monitor contracts, checking invoices and purchase orders, organising drop shipments and tracking schedules and approvals at all stages of the publishing process. This is a great opportunity to see how an international co-edition team works! The internship may also offer the opportunity to assist with customer presentations in the UK depending on timing.

The internship would be for a period of three months starting mid/end of January.

We can offer travel expenses of up to £15 per day and a small amount of subsistence. If you’d like to apply for the position, please email a covering letter and your CV to with the subject heading: International Sales Intern.

Deadline for applications: Friday 18th January

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Guest post from Gemma O'Neill!

Hello there. My name is Gemma O’Neill and I’m a UK based illustrator. I’m absolutely thrilled to be a guest blogger today and I’m ecstatic about the publication of my first picture book with Templar Publishing Oh Dear, Geoffrey! on the 1st January.

The tale revolves around a rather tall and clumsy giraffe called Geoffrey. He annoys all the other animals with his long legs and neck, until one day he finds he can show his friends something they have never seen before; the stars.

Geoffrey first appeared during the final year of my degree at University College Falmouth in 2011. I’ve always loved animals and natural history, so it seemed logical to base a story around one of my favourite animals. I love how tall giraffes are and their beautiful patterns. Texture, rich colours, and organic form play a large part in my work, so it was an absolute dream to start developing a giraffe as a central character. Then it wasn’t long before a concept based around the advantages and disadvantages of being so tall took shape. I have a tendency to overcomplicate ideas, so the more simplified the initial concept is the better.

By the time the Bologna Book Fair came around in Spring 2011, Geoffrey had his very own picture book, a cover and four coloured double page spreads. A few friends and I had been planning a trip to the fair since the summer before. So off we went with our illustration hampers. These included dummy books, portfolios, sketchbooks, business cards, sample illustration sheets and other goodies. We even replaced our identification necklaces with our business cards just to stand out.

We visited the Templar stand first and were greeted by the lovely Helen Boyle, who took the time to sit down with us and have a look at our work. We were then introduced to the wonderful Amanda Wood, who invited us to the London Book Fair the following week. I had absolutely no idea that my first book deal was just around the corner. I thought all the feedback would be great for the professional practice unit of my degree and a great warm up for taking our illustration hampers to New York a month later. It was a real adventure, surprise and without a doubt the happiest moment of my life to date was when the Templar team said they would publish my book.

So I left my degree with the book deal. I started developing Geoffrey further after my first visit to the exciting Templar headquarters. The book ended up having a lot more pages than originally planned and even more characters. I was very surprised and flattered not to be told to alter my illustrative style in any way. I work very intricately and traditionally using gouache, watercolours and collage, but tweak the work using Photoshop. The Templar team were an absolute dream to work with and the whole book making process felt very natural.

It’s obvious now, that I’ve been on an illustrative path since my childhood. As far back as I can remember I’ve always been creating, crafting, making, doodling, colouring and inventing. Or if I wasn’t doing that, I was tucked up in my favourite armchair with a book, tea and biscuits. I knew I wanted to be an author/ illustrator well before the end of school and my A-level choices of English Literature, Business, Art and Design reflected this. I was absolutely determined to do a degree in Illustration afterwards. However, I still decided to go through an art and design foundation course. I’m really glad I did, as it confirmed my love for illustration even further and gave me the confidence to travel form the North Coast of Ireland to Cornwall.

Creativity definitely defined my childhood, teenage years and I can’t wait for it to define the years to come. Roll on churning out the next book with Templar Publishing and I hope Oh Dear, Geoffrey brings some warmth to this January for you!

Happy New Year!

Thank you very much to Gemma for starting off our 2013 with this fab blog post! Find out more about Oh Dear, Geoffrey! here or on our website.