Niamh Mulvey has left Quercus to set up her own personalised children’s book publisher with tech entrepreneur Mike Wilkinson.
New company In The History Books will release custom-made books in which a child’s name and likeness feature in stories alongside major historical figures as if the child and the famous person were close friends.
The indie will launch with Fly With Me, a picture book about Leonardo Da Vinci which is out this month. The book immerses children in the Renaissance with a modern illustrations by Daniel Hills and an uplifting story written by Mulvey herself.
Mulvey, formerly senior commissioning editor at riverrun and editorial director at Quercus Children’s, met Wilkinson while looking after their own youngsters. Mulvey had been thinking about doing something different for a while and Wilkinson, a TV producer with knowledge of coding, needed a change too. She explained: “Almost as a technical challenge he thought he could create a system that would allow him to do this.”
The pair want to scale-up their business as rapidly as possible with at least four or five titles out by Christmas next year. Mulvey said the series would be different from series like Quarto’s bestselling Little People, Big Dreams, as the historical characters provided a way into the story rather than being the focus.
She said: “We want to make the past come alive for children through these books. Parents and carers will love the educational aspect, and children will fall for the storytelling and fun-filled artwork. I always wanted to hop in a time machine and go back in time when I was a kid, and this is a way of making that dream come true.”
Mulvey said the pair were busy planning their next titles and want to hear via their website or Twitter what people and places readers want to be featured. Mulvey said: “We’ve started off with picture books but it might be they want these books for a slightly older age range. We’ll see where our customers lead us.”
The books can be customised and ordered direct from the website but the company, running from Catford in south east London, is keen to work with local booksellers too.
Wilkinson said: “It’s very inspiring to work somewhere with so many artists. There is a unique atmosphere here, and we feel very lucky to work in this community at such an exciting time."