Jen Doherty - Publisher and Celebrant - Interview

Hi Jen, can you tell us what a typical workday looks like for you?

It varies. If I'm researching a book, I'll be puttering about in the place I'm thinking of writing about. I'll be buying postcards,  talking to people, gazing at things, listening-in in the cafes... I love this stage of things.

If I'm meant to be writing, I will probably be up to date with housework, clothes all laundered, visits to distant friends in the diary... Ecventually, writing will begin...

If I'm at the point where a book is going to press, there is a lot of checking and dashing about to make sure it all looks right.

Most of the time, life is somewhere in between.

Which part of your job do you feel most passionate about?

In writing, it's about giving children representation of the place they live in. I love it when someone recognises their street, or the beach where they play.

I also very much enjoy offering young illustrators a chance to work on a book.


What tips would you give to someone starting out in your industry?

Muse on it. Get some information. Make sure it won't sink you it goes wrong. Then do it, if it feels remotely right.


What is the best feedback you have ever had from a client?

I've had some lovely letters from young readers, and it's been great to see some of the books used in schools.


Who do you admire most in the world and why?

No single person, but I have huge admiration for the people who maintain good cheer in the midst of difficulty. Not simply surface cheeriness, but the kind of quiet joy that comes from engaging deeply with whatever they are doing. When my mother was in a nursing home in her final months, there was one helper who so obvioulsy relished her work - and cherished the patients - that it was like standing in a light, just to be in the room where she was working.


Do you have a favourite quote that you turn to for inspiration?

"Everything serves."

It took me a while to sense the truth in that (and when I think about some of the suffering the in the world, I sometimes question it), but over the years, I've found it to be pretty much true.


What are your future plans for Serafina Press?

More books.  More places, but probably still in a small, gradual way. We're taking a break from launching anything this year, but the next book, set in Mull, is written, and is in the works. Gillian Stewart - the same young illustrator who worked on The Unicorn of Holy Island - is already creating the images.