By Annabella Costantino, Michaela O’Callaghan and Lauren Gantt
If you are passionate about children’s books and have a fondness for podcasts, then we absolutely recommend the Big Kids Book Club! Set up by Marcus Henson and Emma Keane, this is perfect for publishing hopefuls looking to immerse themselves in the world of children’s literature – featuring excellent author interviews and latest book releases. We are overjoyed that we had the chance to chat with Marcus:
What is the story behind the Big Kids Book Club?
“With the magic of flashbacks, we’re transported to Summer 2020. A time of madness, uncertainty and furlough. I was bored and looking for something to do, while Emma was finding herself without a job. It was a pretty grim time and we were both fed up. Needless to say, we needed a distraction! With our shared love of young adult and middle-grade books, we got on a Zoom call and started to talk… it snowballed from there.”
Do you have a favourite episode of the podcast?
“Ooooh, that’s a good one. There’s over 130 episodes to choose from and many authors have been a blast to chat to. One thing that the podcast has shown us is just how amazing and passionate the publishing industry is: especially those working within kidlit. That being said, we got a chance to do something super special when we did a joint interview with Alwyn Hamilton. It’s time for another flashback: it’s 2017, and Emma and I are meeting for the first time at the University of Surrey. Don’t ask me how it happened, but we got to talking about books and that’s when Emma said, 'you have to read Rebel of the Sands,” promptly buying me my own copy to read. I loved it, so it became the book that kickstarted our friendship.'
What children’s books are you excited about at the moment?
“Not going to lie, I’m feeling super mysterious at the moment! I have definitely read some good thrillers and mystery novels recently. Shout out to Gina Blaxill’s You Can Trust Me, published by Scholastic and my current read, Fiona Longmuir’s Looking For Emily, published by Nosy Crow. Added to this, I’ve recently received a proof copy of Alex Cotter’s The Mermaid Call – and I simply devoured Alex’s middle-grade debut thriller, The House On The Edge, so I can’t wait for more spooky, mystery vibes. While many might be looking for light-hearted summer reads, I’m wanting all of the weird and wonderful stories that put me on the edge of my seat.”
What are your future plans for the podcast?
“We are super excited to say that we have some pretty big stuff brewing. Emma and I are taking a big step into making the podcast something bigger and better for all the lovely listeners who tune in each week. By that, I mean we’re starting a Patreon, so that we can elevate the platform by investing back into the show. We’re going to be creating some exclusive season-based content for our Patreons, with Autumn (September–December), Winter (January–April) and Summer (May–August) episodes. Our plan is to do some pre-launch promotion over this summer with autumn being our Season 1, where we’ll be looking at the world 'Behind the Book'. We’ll be speaking to industry representatives, publishing professionals and other bookish adjacent interests that cover taking a book from agent to acquisitions, through the publishing process and finally out on the bookshelves. It’s very exciting here at Big Kids HQ!”
How do you work with the publishing industry?
“We work with really amazing publishers here in the UK. We tackle middle-grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction, so we catch a good slice of the market. Initially, with the few half a dozen authors that came onto the show, I was simply sending Twitter DMs and begging them to appear on our podcast – such was our humble origins. But as we grew and learnt more, we reached out directly to publishers to set us up with their latest titles and authors. I should say a big shout out to Beth over at Faber Children’s, who was the first publisher who saw our little podcast and agreed to help us out! Since then, as more publishers work with us, it’s easier to reach out. Currently we work with about a dozen publishers and freelance book publicists, who keep us fully stocked with new releases and fantastic authors to talk to.”
Have you got any tips for hopefuls looking to learn more about kidlit?
“Be bold and send that email! Maybe you’re starting a book blog, want to talk to an author, or you’re looking to get into a publishing profession. You’ll be surprised how far you can get by being polite, enthusiastic and friendly. Feel free to reach out to us - we love to connect with other bookish people and are always open to more interviews and blogs.”
Thank you, Marcus, for chatting with us about how you turned your passion for kidlit into an excellent resource for kidlit lovers!