With hearts and bellies full of wine and cheer we settled into our seats for the main event, a behind the door peek at the publishing world with the ever-generous and much-respected Linsay Knight, Publisher at Walker Books Australia.
Linsay spoke about the collaborative spirit in the children’s book industry, something that many of us there had experienced and a vibe that had already permeated the room.
We were heartened to learn that Walker Books is a creatively-led company, a story-led environment where an editor’s passion for a book can sometimes get it over the line when other signs hint that it might not be the most commercial option. Story is the most important factor.
I’m sure Linsay gained a lot of new fans and set herself up for a flood of submissions when she spoke with such passion about the value she placed on book creators and how Walker Books as a smaller company have ‘more time and energy to put into really looking after our writers and illustrators.’
This feeling was amplified when we learned about the collaborative nature of the UK, USA and Australian arms of the Walker Books empire and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one imagining how thrilling it would be to have a book simultaneously released by the company in all three markets.
Teasing us further and inspiring us to work harder Linsay informed us that the Walker Books team were ‘always on the hunt for the best there is.’
With only 30 books a year coming out on the Walker Books list we all knew the competition would be fierce and to show us just what kinds of books they are looking for Linsay shared with us a selection of her favourites from each of their lists.
Dianne Bate’s anthology of Australian poets, Our Home is Dirt by Sea was the first cab off the rank with Linsay, a huge advocate for Australian poetry saying she was ‘very proud to have a book like this on the Walker list.’