Interview with Siobhan Parkinson, author, translator, former Irish children’s laureate and now publisher at Little Island.
What is Little Island and what is your role there?
Little Island is not so much little as absolutely tiny – two extremely busy people publishing about eight books a year for kids and teenagers, by emerging Irish writers for children and also some in translation. I’m the publisher and editor. Which means I do a lot of shouting (mostly, ‘help!’ and ‘hurray!’ and ‘Oh, look, it’s a BOOK!’).
What exciting books do you have coming out?
All our books are amazingly exciting, but I’ll just mention two. We’ve just published our fiftieth title, The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde, which is speculative fiction that packs a powerful political punch. Unusual in a book for 10+ – making kids think!
Once upon a Place is a collection of stories and poems by Irish writers, compiled by our current children’s laureate, Eoin Colfer, and including stories by Eoin himself, Derek Landy, Roddy Doyle and me! It is beautifully illustrated in black and white by Ireland’s PJ Lynch and it is out in October.
What are your plans for growth and are you planning to sell more books in the UK?
Oh yes for sure. We sell all our books in the UK – you just have to buy them, oh great British public! Our books can be ordered through Walker Books/TBS and of course also online from our website.
How does being a publisher compare to being a novelist?
I feel I have a lot of empathy with my authors – and I know how important it is not to try to turn an author’s book into the book you would have written yourself. In practice, of course, being a publisher on a very tiny island means I spend only a very small part of my time working with authors and texts and a lot of time doing the million other things that have to be done to keep it all ticking over – and the bills paid. Being a novelist is quite restful by comparison. At least, as far as I can remember!