Hi, I’m Holly and I’m Exisle’s UK publicist.
I live in Edinburgh with my girlfriend and our big, fluffy Husky-German Shepard in a cottage under the Forth Bridge. I first got into publishing by writing educational children’s books about all sorts of things from mental health and coping with change to bionic limbs and tractor beams. Although I have nothing against the wonders of science, I always preferred to write books about managing difficult life experiences. People face all sorts of challenges as they’re growing up and it’s important to equip children with the skills to cope with these in the best way they can.
Despite enjoying my comfortable office job writing children’s books, I soon started to crave an adventure. When I left my hometown and moved into a van with my girlfriend, it was because I wanted to see more of the country I live in. The van was a converted Ford Transit called Clarence and, though it was small, it was very cosy. The wood burner and lots of blankets kept us nice and warm, despite it being the middle of winter. I was still writing and editing on a freelance basis from the van and I loved the freedom it gave me. Being out of the traditional office setting meant I was getting a lot more ideas and inspiration too. I loved that my books were on library shelves and were being read by children in schools and at home but, after a while, I wanted to do something a bit different.
I always found it fascinating how publicists managed to find homes for books all around the world, and how a book can go from a manuscript, with an editor’s red pen all over it, to a best-seller seemingly overnight. My favourite thing about my current job with Exisle is being able to work alongside authors and celebrate with them when their latest book has received a glowing review.
What I love about Exisle Publishing, is that we never shy away from publishing books on tough-to-talk-about topics. From non-fiction adult books, such as Dealing with Depression, to children’s books, like Grandma Forgets, there is a real focus on unpacking emotional subjects with a sense of hope.
So far, while working for Exisle, I have had the opportunity to promote many brilliant books. My favourite EK book has to be Grandpa’s Noises. It’s basically a translation guide! When you are little, Grandpas can seem like a different species. They walk very slowly, speak in thick accents and when they blow their noses, it sounds like a foghorn! But despite being nothing like their grandchildren, they would do anything for them. My own Grandpa suffered a stroke when I was rather young which made it difficult for him to speak clearly. He always said that I knew better than anyone else what he was trying to say, so I find this book on learning to understand Grampa’s noises particularly heart-warming.
When it comes to the adult non-fiction books that I’ve helped promote, my favourite has to be The Journal Writer’s Companion, by Alyss Thomas. When the world is getting a bit too much, it is the kind of book that you can curl up with and let the world fall away. What I love about Alyss’s book is that it is not prescriptive. It gives an overview of all the different journaling techniques so you can get an idea of what suits you. Some people journal because they want to get more organised, while for others it’s a mindful activity that gives you the opportunity to take some time for yourself. The Journal Writer’s Companion made me want to give bullet journaling a try, but after a while I found that more descriptive journaling was what worked for me. It has actually improved my memory massively. As Alyss will no doubt tell you, you don’t need half of hobbycraft’s art supplies or rolls and rolls of washi tape to make a good journal. But, having said that, buying planner stickers and handwriting pens on Etsy is my guilty pleasure and does motivate me to keep up my writing.