Short but Sweet: An Introduction into Editorial Life

As someone who has never worked in an environment quite like that of a Publishing House, Ransom has given me a tremendous insight into the business in the space of just three days. Short but sweet – and very enlightening.

Since my personal interest lies with the editorial side of publishing, I was offered the opportunity to assist with the tasks that revolved around commissioning and proof-reading. These are things that have intrigued me for some time now: the whole process of how books are chosen to be published, and then the scrutiny of editing and proof-reading undertaken before the distribution of the text/novel. To an outsider, the final product might appear to be just another book, but I can assure you that piece of work has been put through the ringer before being allowed on the shelves.

The commissioning I was involved in was particularly in relation to Ransom’s imprint – Raven – hoping to bring something fresh and exciting to the genre of Young Adult fiction. The process of commissioning often starts with the publisher having manuscript after manuscript flooding in. Although this is great, it does come down to a couple of people reading through and choosing what is suitable to fit the target audience. But you never know, you might find the next Worst Witch or Lemony Snicket – which always promises a good read. The alternative method of commissioning means hunting authors down, instead of waiting for them to find you – more efficient maybe, but sometimes the best ideas can be worth the wait!

In my limited experience of this process it does involve a lot of time, even when just skimming the submissions to get a feel for their suitability. But what I enjoyed was being able to read something light-hearted and fun (in comparison to the books I read at University). I was able to read through several manuscripts that had been sent in as hopeful and potential titles for the new year.  It was endearing to see the effort and dedication offered by these budding authors.

After this crucial stage is complete and you have picked your texts, next comes the proof-reading. A lot more difficult and not for the faint-hearted. Be prepared to spend a lot of time reading and re-reading and picking out mistakes. But it’s all character building. Personally, I think this is one of the things that I enjoyed the most. Being an English and History student, I live to meticulously read texts. Although I enjoyed this stage, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it challenging. Trying to find mistakes can sometimes feel like more of a challenge when that is the only purpose of reading. And since it is a critical stage of the whole publishing process, I did feel anxious about missing things out.

I would not expect to know everything about the business after three days, or even be able to perfect any methods I have learnt. But my time at Ransom has felt rewarding, and has affirmed that a career in publishing and editing is the career for me.

Megan Dale
English and History Student, Leicester University

An Introduction to:

An Introduction to: Dead Ed in My Head by Barbara Catchpole

Ed expected beautiful blond angels when he died. But instead he got stuck…
inside Tod’s head.

As if teenage life isn’t hard enough, Tod’s in serious trouble at school, home is a bit of a muddle, his Saturday job sucks, and he needs to find a way to get talking with That Fit Girl Down The Road.

They say age brings wisdom, but for Guns N’ Roses fan (and grumpy ex-wrinkly) dead Ed, being in Tod’s head offers a second chance to smoke, fight and party.

For Tod, having an old dead guy in his head is occasionally very useful, but Ed’s past is starting to catch up with Tod’s present.
Will Ed ever leave?

Because in one head, two’s a crowd.

At 70, Ed was dead. At 15 Tod was sharing his head with Ed. Great. Barbara Catchpole’s Dead Ed in my Head is a hilarious story unlike anything you will have ever read. Living through Tod’s most embarrassing moments, coupled with Ed’s funny, snide (and sometimes perverted) comments, this story will keep you laughing. While amusing, the novel also involves a thought provoking narrative about life-long regret, love and loss. You will find yourself encountering emotional highs and lows on this rollercoaster of a story. A tale of teenage angst and friendship, with a healthy dose of hilarity, Barbara Catchpole’s latest novel invites you to question what comes after death, and welcomes you into Tod’s jumbled head.

5 Reasons to read Dead Ed in My Head

  • Ed’s heartbreaking and foolhardy past is a sobering reminder that you should live life to the full. Live, love and rock!
  • This book is as far away from dull as Alton Towers is! Every single page will keep you laughing.
  • Barbara Catchpole’s subtle commentary on grief is both amusing and wise.
  • Dead Ed in my Head raises some wonderfully complex questions moral questions on the afterlife and on second chances.
  • This book smashes together lots of different genres and styles in a wonderfully chaotic way. You won’t want it to end!


An Introduction to:

An Introduction to: Connor’s Brain by Malcolm Rose

Connor began his second life at the age of fifteen. He started it with a thirty-mile-an-hour brain.

Connor’s first life ended when a virus in his brain stripped him of almost everything – his memory, language and a sense of time.

Now Connor lives in a permanent present that he doesn’t understand.
The ‘new’ Connor doesn’t recognise or remember his parents, his brother, his friends – or his girlfriend Hattie.

New-Connor can’t remember the old Connor, but there are people who can.
People who have reasons to keep him quiet – or to hurt him.

Because old-Connor had a dark past.

At fifteen, Connor’s Brain was attacked by a devastating illness which stripped him of his memory. Malcolm Rose’s Connor’s Brain is absolutely thrilling, but is also a tragic tale centred on memory. The unfolding dark past of old-Connor keeps you engaged throughout, while also making you to feel sorry for the innocent new-Connor. This thought provoking text sheds new light on what it means to be you and ensures you are with the characters every step of the way as they face heartbreaking dilemmas. You will encounter a range of emotions, from anger to shock, laughter to tears, as the extent of Connor’s old, dark past is revealed.  A tale of love, loss, friendship and crime, Malcolm Rose’s latest novel invites you to discover if memory really is the only thing that defines who you are.

5 Reasons to read Connor’s Brain

  • Connor’s dark past unfolds rapidly, a shocking past that truly defies belief.

  • The dilemma faced by Hattie, Connor’s girlfriend, is heartbreaking and does lead you to wonder what you would do.

  • As Connor has to relearn language, you will laugh out loud at some of his replacements, you could probably count the laughs on your ‘eels’…

  • Connor’s Brain raises some wonderfully complex questions on memory and what it means to be you. Really poignant discussion points that will make you stop and think.

  • There is laughter, tears, anger and tragedy – this novel really does have it all.


An Introduction to:

An Introduction to: A Brightness Out of the Blue by Jill Atkins

When you’re at rock bottom… life can’t get any worse… you don’t see the point of carrying on… someone walks into your world and makes all the difference.

Ella is mourning her dead mother and suffering the cruelty of a new step-mother. But when Martha, an old lady, falls in the street and Ella helps her get home, she feels Martha’s strange magical power. Soon her life begins to change for the better.

A Brightness Out of the Blue is a beautiful modern-day fairytale with a twist in the tale.

Ella Sharma is 16 years old and life is pretty bleak. Having left home because of her volatile stepmother, she is currently living with three students (two of which she calls the Snob sisters), and working an underpaid job as a cleaner for which she isn’t appreciated. However, things begin to change when she meets Martha, a mysterious and enigmatic old woman who has a magical quality about her. As Ella spends time with Martha, and finds herself becoming increasingly infatuated with local rugby player Finn, we are caught up in a charming tale about love, hope and family. Brightness is one of those reads which is uncomplicated and enjoyable, weaving its way into your heart until you’re left smiling.

5 reasons to read A Brightness Out of the Blue

  • The protagonist is a Person of Colour! When mainstream literature is scarily white, to have a main character who isn’t, is so refreshing, especially when it doesn’t define her (as is the case here). Ella Sharma is a protagonist that young Asian girls can see themselves in.
  • The magical elements will have you utterly charmed.
  • The author uses flashbacks and letters in the novel, creating interest for the reader.
  • It’s a well-translated modernisation of the original story of Cinderella, updating it so that it’s relevant for the times.
  • The ending isn’t your typical fairytale ending (but it’s still happy) and this makes the text much better than if it was that predictable.


author interview

An Author in My Head: An interview with Barbara Catchpole

With Publication Day for our latest release, Dead Ed in My Head, being just a month away, we thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with the novel’s author, Barbara Catchpole. We asked her about embodying the voices of old men and what made her laugh out loud. Have a read and get excited for Dead Ed!

So Dead Ed is quite a quirky book, what inspired you to write it?

I’ve always been amazed at the communication gap between young people and people of my age. It’s like young people can hear you but they’re not listening. All they hear is : “yahdi, yahdi, blah, blah, blah”. Similarly, I’m always amazed at the way fully-grown adults mess things up on more or less a daily basis, and still think they know best. They think they know best, so they don’t listen either. So I wondered what it would be like if the two just couldn’t get away from each other – if they had to listen.

In the book, you have to capture the voices of Tod and Ed- one an angsty teenager, and the other an adventure-seeking old man- was it challenging to try and embody both? What was the process of that like?

It wasn’t difficult to capture the two voices of the main characters (if I have). Ed was easy because I’m about that age. I still say the things my parents used to say. Of course, I do! And it’s lovely to sort of ‘hear’ my parents again when I use the old sayings.

Now, thanks to technology, young people speak a whole different, new and exciting language that is constantly changing. There was no point in trying to capture it because it will be different tomorrow. What I could capture (again, I hope, anyway) was the anger that young people feel when they are abandoned or marginalised by those they love. As a teacher, I’ve seen many young men like Tod who are angry but don’t know why they’re angry.

Did anyone you know inspire the character of Ed? 

I see Ed in every newspaper photo of a wrinkly member of a rock band, still out there rocking. He has the stroppiness of the generation that have lived through a world war and the swinging sixties and are now pushing into the post office queue. He has lived his life to the full and still not had enough!

When writing a book as funny as this one, one would assume that writing it was fun. Were there any scenes which had you laughing out loud as you wrote them?

I laughed at chlamydia and the expectant kangaroo, Ed looking at the wildlife pool and thinking ‘crispy duck’, dog turd pavement, the outline of Jordan, Lacey’s toilet waterfall and actually; I just had the best time ever writing it. I have an inappropriate and uncontrollable sense of humour so it was nice to just let go!

If you could have the spirit of any dead person in your head, who would you choose and why?

I would have Terry Wogan. Definitely! In fact, it might be a bit like having Ed in your head without Ed’s selfishness. Terry Wogan used to share my car on the radio every morning on the way to work and I would get along just fine with him. I know I should say Mother Teresa but she was a real saint and she would hate it inside my head. It would just be cruel!

And finally, in one sentence, why should people get excited for Dead Ed?

It’s a very funny book with a deeper message that you can totally ignore if you want (the message, not the book – read the book)! 

Dead Ed in My Head is due for release on the 18th May 2017.