Clavis&Claustra, a stationery company set up by former HarperCollins employee Cat Crossley [pictured], will next year begin publishing feminist and diverse children’s books.
The first book will be The Bringernooks of Wetherton Bee, part of a Bringernooks series for readers aged 7-11, about a world populated by shy woodland creatures. Told using verse and illustration, it will explore themes of diversity, community and ecological harmony. Publication will be in autumn 2016 with price and format still to be confirmed.
Crossley said she decided to move into children’s books because “publishing industry should be doing more to celebrate the voices and lives of a more diverse range of people, such as women's contribution to history”.
As well as picture books, she will develop teaching resources and “wouldn’t rule out branching out further in the longer term. I can’t say how many titles a year I plan to publish as the business is growing faster than I imagined”.
She already sells stationery and gifts in 18 independent bookshops and gift outlets in the UK, including the Feminist Library Gift Shop and Housman’s Bookshop in London, and will ask those outlets to also stock her books.
Crossley was operations manager at Collins Learning before setting up Clavis&Claustra in March this year and said the publishing industry suffers because it is “predominantly white, middle class, heteronormative, and run by men (though staffed by a majority of women)”.
She added: “It involves every decision from who gets hired as an intern, to who gets appointed CEO; from the front cover image of a book, to the editorial compromises made to strike a profitable sales deal; from the gender or cultural stereotypes inherent in and perpetuated by a choice of font, to the stories we ask for from literary agents… As a new publisher with a clear dedication to diversity from the outset, I hope to do things differently.”
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