Tuesday 18 December 2012

8th day of Christmas: Editorial Director Sara O'Connor of Hot Key Books

An Achingly Mysterious Mystery

Sara O'Connor is Editorial Director of Print and Digital at Hot Key Books (a division of Bonnier) and a staunch supporter of SCBWI (the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). She co-founded the Undiscovered Voices project which has transformed the lives of  children’s authors who have since landed publishing deals that have won and been nominated for a number of awards. Her first job in the industry was as an editorial assistant at Little Brown Books for Young Readers in New York. She joined Working Partners in London where she has worked on series like Rainbow Magic and My Sister the Vampire. She moved to Hodder Children’s Books managing the Enid Blyton publishing program and acquiring projects like internet sensation JackDrawsAnything.com, and A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton. 

I am aching for a good mystery series — could be contemporary or historical or any genre.

I think I'd prefer for the middle grade age range, but really I just want a writer who can create a brilliant detective and weave a twisty, turny, action-packed plot with clues and red herrings, and keep me guessing to the very end.

Mysteries I've loved:

LOTS by Agatha Christie

The creator of Miss Marple and Poirot

The Lady Grace Mysteries

Encyclopedia Brown (for those Americans out there)

The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

A still from the HBO TV series based on the novels
by Alexander McCall Smith

Fabulous characters (first and foremost), great settings, strong mystery elements.

Pretty please? I've been very good this year.


  1. I'd never heard of Encyclopedia Brown - he sounds fun.

    1. Me too! Going to look him up! Apparently an American classic.

  2. Yes, I wondered about including Encyclopedia Brown, as it was so American -- but I loved it. I still remember one of the answers to a mystery that baffled me for ages.

    And... the end of my biography should say that I am now Editorial Director, Print & Digital, at Hot Key Books, a brand new publisher for readers aged 9 to 19, a dvision of Bonnier Publishing.

    So, please do send your awesome mysteries to me at Hot Key!

    1. You are wonderful Sara! I will add that to the bio when I finish writing my chapter. Oops what am I doing here?

    2. Here's a question Sara: is Hot Key aiming for a US audience as well? In which case would it be useful to think universal in constructing or stories? Or does it matter if it's a thoroughly British setting? I'm guessing that Encyclopedia Brown didn't get here because it was too American?

  3. No, we're not deliberately aiming for a US audience. Obviously, if we can sell rights to the US, that's great -- but, in addition to our main focus of the UK market, we are looking much more to Aus/NZ, southeast Asia and India as export territories.

    I LOVE the thoroughly British. Agatha Christie being one, but also the wonderful SHRUNK! by Fleur Hitchcock was just selected as a Daily Mail "Treasure for Children" by my new best friend Sam Gayton who described it as, "Utterly bonkers, uniquely British and completely loveable, it’s the zaniest book I’ve read all year."

    That said, I did a fair amount of growing up in America (though also in Malaysia) so, personally, I do have American influences and some American-leaning tastes. But, in my defense, I have two British parents, so really my influences are quite international!

  4. Merry Christmas Sara! I hope Santa bring something wonderful to your Hot Key slushpile!

  5. A very British mystery? Trains, weather, tax returns, bus timetables, the coalition government - take your pick ;-)

  6. Thanks Sara and Merry Christmas to all at Hot Key. Hope someone out there is going YES! I have one.

  7. Happy Christmas, Sara and a general woo-hoo for an excellent post!


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