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The World in Multicolour

For National Translation Month: Our Titles in Translation

in: Children's books

chicken-hola

It is the last day of September – and there is just enough time left to celebrate all our translated titles for National Translation Month!

Founded in 2013 by Loren Kleinman and Claudia Serea, National Translation Month seeks to honour all translators. Through their dedicated efforts we are able to overcome language barriers and “foster artistic unity across linguistic boundaries.” It also celebrates all literary works in translation.

Our translated titles: Chicken in the Kitchen and Phoenix Song

We may be a very young company, but already two of our books have been translated into foreign languages! Spanish publisher Planeta de Agostini picked up Nnedi Okorafor and Mehrdokht Amini’s Chicken in the Kitchen, a fun story about a young Nigerian girl named Anyaugo who wakes up one night and sees a giant chicken in her kitchen. Knowing that children in Spain and Argentina could now join Anyaugo on her curious adventure delighted us no end.

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Equally exciting is the translation of Phoenix Song into Malay by Malaysian publishing house Oyez!Books. People often think our books are stories in translation – in fact, they are English-language originals. Phoenix Song is a story inspired by a traditional Malaysian folktale and reimagined for an English audience. We feel that the Malay translation is a wonderful homecoming for the Phoenix. In a way, it symbolises the powerful return of folklore to a culture where local tales have been overshadowed by Western stories.

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Photo by Tutu Dutta

In the UK, the call to publish more translated fiction to better represent our country’s multicultural reality has become increasingly louder. At Lantana, we have already begun looking into translating foreign-language picture books that feel like sisters to our own in terms of their style and vision, inspired by fantastic organisations such as Outside In WorldLiterature Across Frontiers and Booktrust. But the literal translation of stories is only one facet to diversity. Our books are examples of stories that translate cultures – books that celebrate cultural realities that are different to our own and make them accessible to new readers. And long may we bring the best new writing from around the world – in translation or otherwise – to UK readers!

Happy National Translation Month everyone!

Katrina and Alice

A Summer with Lantana Publishing: an intern’s story

in: Publishing

julietteFor two months now, I have been interning with Lantana Publishing, learning to discover its wonderful picture books and building new skills that will hopefully help me in my future career. As my internship is coming to an end, it is time to share my experience of interning with a small independent publisher of picture books, hoping that it might provide useful information to aspiring publishers like me.

Finding an Internship

When you first think about starting a career in publishing, one thing becomes clear very quickly: a significant experience of the publishing industry is necessary to find a job and opportunities to gain such an experience are hard to find. Big firms like Penguin Random House or Harper Collins have internship schemes, but small publishers often use their connections to find interns. I was a French graduate in English literature with no experience of the publishing world and almost no idea of how I would integrate it. Earlier this year, I met Alice Curry through an acquaintance and asked her if I could conduct an interview with her for an application I was preparing. At the end of the interview, she kindly offered me to intern with Lantana Publishing over the summer. I had always wanted to work in picture books’ publishing and it was a great opportunity to discover the different roles and skills involved in publishing and, more particularly, independent publishing.

To find an internship, you need to put yourself out there. Ask around for potential contacts, accept networking as an essential part of your sociability (I know, it’s hard!) and basically be aware of who’s who and who you would like to work with. You never know, that person you met for a college application might end up being a key contact in your career!

Working for a small independent publisher

The experience of working with a small independent publisher like Lantana Publishing is fascinating because it involves understanding and participating in every step of the production of a book. My main duties were to work on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the website and to focus on a marketing strategy for the launch of The Tigon and the Liger and The Ammuchi Puchi. Apart from that, I was able to observe how Alice proceeded to edit manuscripts, or to research different topics such as wordless picture books and foreign acquisitions. Multitasking is therefore a challenging but exciting aspect of working with a small publisher. Interning with Lantana Publishing allowed me to try my hand at the different roles involved in publishing and to decide which would suit me the most.

If you’re going to work for a young independent publisher, you should be ready to work on different fronts and deal with tasks that you probably never knew existed. It is a great opportunity to gain useful skills very quickly. Moreover, you will gain insight in how a company is built and, hopefully, actively participate in its development. I was personally thrilled to have my first experienceof the publishing industry in a small company with great values and products like Lantana Publishing!

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Publishing 2.0

When you leave university, your use of computers and the web doesn’t go much further than your personal pages on social media and word processing. In the two months I spent with Lantana Publishing, I learnt how to use different online tools to assess a website, the basics of SEO, how to lead a marketing campaign on social media, and so on. I discovered that, although our products are still material, everything takes place online and mastering all the tools the internet offers you is the perfect way to launch both your website and your products in an efficient and cost-effective way.

When you start making your way through the intricacies of the web, two things matter: be interested and be creative. You will soon discover that social media and the internet are actually easy to understand and use to your advantage. Observe the strategies of other publishers, spend hours on google looking for bloggers and organisations that might promote your books for free and, most importantly, think outside of the box. The internet is full of opportunities to interact with potential customers and reviewers, so find them and grab them!

Making the Most Out of Your Internship

The most important thing during an internship in publishing is to grab any opportunity you have to transform your work into useful skills and knowledge. You should obviously focus on the tasks you are given, but any task can provide you with occasions to enter intocontact with interesting people, to discover companies or organisations that you might later want to work with or simply expand your knowledge of the publishing industry. You shouldn’t hesitate to ask the publishers you are working with for explanations about particular aspects of their work.

Finally, you shouldn’t start your internship with the fear of being useless or, worst, an inconvenience to you employers. Be creative and pro-active, don’t be afraid of expressing your ideas, they are probably worth being heard! With passion, patience and goodwill you will learn very quickly and soon become an asset to the publisher.

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What Now?

I will be leaving Lantana Publishing with a new set of wonderful picture books on my shelves and an entirely new perspective on publishing. Yes, I have new skills that will help me in my job search, but, most of all, working with Lantana Publishing helped shape my approach to the world of children’s publishing. I am now more aware of the issues related to identity in children’s books, and have discovered the many publishers and organisations that fight for more cultural diversity in literature. Finally, I have discovered through contact with the different team members of Lantana Publishing that publishing is a challenging trade but a fascinating one, and that the satisfaction provided by the publication and promotion of a beautiful picture book is absolutely worth the commitment it demands.

Juliette

On tigons and letting the imagination run wild: an interview with Keilly Swift

in: Children's books

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Today I caught up with Keilly Swift, debut author of The Tigon and the Liger, who is also managing editor at the much-lauded children’s newspaper, First News. She told me all about what makes tigons and ligers special and why they are a good symbol for those who feel like they don’t fit in. Keilly also shared some writing tips she received from the brilliant Michael Morpurgo – read on to find out!

Congratulations on the publication of your new picture book The Tigon and the Liger! Can you tell us what it’s about?

It’s the story of a tigon (a cross between a male tiger and a female lion) and a liger (a cross between a male lion and a female tiger) who are bullied for being different. Their lives change forever when they become friends, begin having fun and learn to celebrate their differences.

Do tigons and ligers really exist? What made you decide to write about them?

The Tigon and the Liger Keilly Swift Cosei KawaYes, tigons and ligers do exist, but they are very rare indeed. They are usually found in zoos or wildlife parks where tigers and lions are more likely to meet. I was inspired to write the story after working on a feature about hybrid creatures for an educational magazine. The subject is a controversial one, but I saw tigons and ligers as wonderful symbols of how we all sometimes feel we don’t belong and the characters of Tyler and Lyla began to take shape in my mind.

What do you think of Cosei Kawa’s illustrations for your book? Which is your favourite illustration?

Cosei’s illustrations are absolutely stunning, they add depth to the story and bring the characters to life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I love his use of colour, the small details he’s added and the different perspectives he uses, such as the spread where Tyler goes off on his own which Cosei has illustrated looking down from the top of tall trees – Tyler looks so small and alone and it really emphasises how lonely he is at this point in the story. I also love the opening picture of Tyler and the pyramid of big cats showing Tyler and Lyla playing with their new tiger friend – it’s so lovely to see them having fun!

At Lantana, we feel that this story might speak particularly to children from a mixed race background. What message do you hope readers will glean from your story?

Yes, I certainly think that the story might appeal to children from a mixed race background. However, I hope it speaks to anyone who has ever felt different or like they don’t fit in (which must be everyone at one point or another!). The underlying message is that what makes us different is what makes us special and that everyone should be accepted, and accept themselves, just as they are.

You grew up in the BahaIllustration the Tigon and the Ligermas before moving back to the UK when you were nine. What was it like splitting your childhood between two countries?

Did you ever feel torn or out of place? Although I definitely stood out at my school in the Bahamas, with my fair skin and blonde hair, it was when we moved back to the UK that I felt more out of place. I remember being teased for my Bahamian accent and the different words I used (such as candy for sweets, sidewalk for pavement, etc.), as well as feeling out of my depth at school because the curriculum was so different here. I desperately wanted to fit in and would practice my English accent every night!

Do you think it’s important that children have access to books that represent cultures, world views or family arrangements other than their own?

Children are naturally curious and I think it’s vital that they read books that teach them about different cultures and ways of life. It not only means that they’ll grow up with an open mind, but also that they’ll be open to so many more wonderful cross-cultural opportunities, from travelling and studying to new friendships. A lot of the problems the world faces today could be solved if diversity was celebrated and everyone grew up with an appreciation and acceptance of different views and ways of living.

Congratulations also on recently becoming a mum! Has this wonderful event given you a new perspective when it comes to writing for children?

Thank you! My baby girl is just over three weeks old at the moment and she isn’t sleeping very much at night, which gives me a new perspective on everything! I’ve worked in children’s publishing for a long time and I think that becoming a mum has made me even more passionate about helping children understand the world they live in and promoting a culture of acceptance and tolerance, as bullying is an issue that affects far too many young people.

The Tigon and the Liger is in rhyming verse. Is this your preferred writing style or did it just seem right for the story?

I love writing in rhyme and it definitely felt right for this story as I think it makes the underlying message more accessible. It’s certainly challenging to tell the story you want to tell and ensure the rhyme scheme works, but it’s so satisfying when it all comes together and you strike upon the perfect rhyme!

Do you have a favourite picture book (that’s not your own!)? 

Tigon and liger, ilustration, animalsI love Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson is the master of the rhyming story! I also treasure my Japanese picture books, such as Little Daruma and Little Tengu, that I bought while I was living in Japan – they really helped me with my Japanese language skills and also to learn about Japanese culture and various traditions.

Finally, can you give any aspiring authors any tips for their writing?

The wonderful Michael Morpurgo once gave me some great advice that has stayed with me – he said not to rush, take time to work out what you want to write about and give the idea time to develop in your head before putting pen to paper. Develop your own style of writing by reading and writing as much as you can and then, when you start your story, let your imagination run wild – you can edit it later. The Tigon and the Liger was originally twice as long as it is in the finished book and there were lots of drafts in between, so don’t be afraid to keep rewriting something until you’re happy with it!

Thank you, Keilly!

Katrina

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TYLER!

in: Children's books

The Tigon and the Liger by Keilly Swift and Cosei Kawa, published by Lantana Publishing

The Tigon and the Liger is out today!  

A book that celebrates diversity and loving the skin you’re in!  Described as ‘a fantastic read’ and ‘destined to become a new classic’, this picture book by debut author, Keilly Swift, and award-winning illustrator, Cosei Kawa, is a book to be treasured.

Buy your copy now by clicking this link!