“I wanted to be a book publisher. It wasn’t much more complicated than that.”
In a public interview recently, a journalist asked me what I meant in the final pages of my memoir, Heart Berries, when I proclaimed myself “untouchable.” A room full of authors gasped audibly at my boldness.
It was his voice that caught her attention. On a Friday in early 2012, Christine Haebler, a producer at Screen Siren Pictures, was driving to work when she heard Richard Wagamese on CBC Radio talking to host Shelagh Rogers about Indian Horse, his novel about an Ojibwe boy named Saul who is traumatized at a residential school and finds possible salvation through hockey.
While browsing her local independent bookstore in 2011, Nancy Vo had an “aha” moment. She had just discovered Jon Klassen’s bestseller I Want My Hat Back: “I was floored and thought, ‘How did a picture book just do that to me?’ It sealed the deal – I was on a path to making kids’ books.”
In 2012, readers went wild for Rachel Hartman’s YA fantasy Seraphina – which was a Quill & Quire book of the year – shooting the debut author up the New York Times bestseller list.
About a year ago, while I was passionately immersed in getting the manuscript of my latest book, The Spinning Magnet: The Force That Created the Modern World and Could Destroy It, to my publisher, I found myself with a brief moment to surface and take the temperature of the times.
Last May, I published Thing is, my second collection of poems. The project, at least as I thought of it, was to re-imagine the alienated nature of consciousness as a universal condition.
It was July 9, 2011, and I was attending a workshop on writing for children hosted in the backyard of A Different Booklist bookstore in Toronto.
After more than a decade working in various aspects of publishing, from managing print production to editorial to selling rights at Kids Can Press, Kelvin Kong has launched his own literary agency.