In celebration of our 25th anniversary of children's publishing we are delighted to present the third edition of Onion Origins.
A Series of Fortunate Events
In 2006 I enrolled in the Professional Writing and Editing course at RMIT because, after an enjoyable but slightly aimless Arts degree in English and Cinema Studies, supported by a career based in swimming pools and video shops, it had finally clicked that editing would rather suit me.
One of my classes was Non-Fiction Writing - taught by then-A&U adult-publishing legend Andrea McNamara - which I decided to take because I was writing a thesis interpreting Paul Cox's films through a Lacanian lens and I fondly imagined this might become a book relevant to many people if only they knew it.
Andrea soon dampened my illusions of becoming the foremost Coxian academic expert via trade publishing, but she did take me on as a placement student because she observed I was 'picky', which is possibly only ever a compliment in the context of editing.
While I was on placement, Andrea generously loaned me to the children's team whenever an extra pair of hands or eyes were needed. Besides learning the finer points of writing readers notes to accompany the beautiful novels underway at the time, such as The Killer's Tears by , it soon became apparent that this was an office that would enthusiastically consume any kitchen experiment of a sweet nature - so all in all the situation was happily relevant to my interests on a number of fronts.
And then a fortunate series of events occurred: Sheralyn, the Office Manager, went overseas so I was given the responsibility of wrangling the reception desk, and then Julia, the Publishing Assistant, needed a Girl Friday to do all of the things, and then Eva went on maternity leave so a more permanent set of hands and eyes were required and, well, I was already there busily undertaking in-depth discussions with The Tall Designer and the Smaller Publisher about how to best represent poo (or not) on the cover of Barry Jonsberg's The Dog That Dumped on My Doona.
So with pickiness and cakes and opinions about poo on covers, I inveigled my way into being part of the furniture at the House of Onion and have since worked on far too many brilliant children's and YA books to ever consider academic monographs again!
Thank you, Andrea - and I think the Onions would agree you were right, as always, about recommending this latest Excellent Cake recipe - Pistachio & Lime Syrup Cake.
- Hilary Reynolds, Editor (aka The Cake-Maker Virtuoso)