Featured Members

Michael Upchurch, Te Papa Press

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Name: Michael Upchurch
Role: Associate Publisher
Company: Te Papa Press

My first job in publishing was: Contracts assistant at Egmont Children’s Books in London, unless you count working at Blackwell’s bookshop on the university campus … a long time ago now.

I’m currently reading: A brilliant new manuscript on the whale traditions of Māori. Away from work though, The Book of Dust — I’m late to Philip Pullman. I’ve also recently become a collector of houseplants, so Plantopedia is always open.

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: Returning to Te Papa Press in January. It was a roundabout route of four years in the UK followed by a mid-career post-grad in museums and heritage practice at Victoria University last year. I feel incredibly fortunate to be here right now, in a great environment, surrounded by talented colleagues and a mixture of familiar and new faces.

Suzy Maddox, Hachette Aotearoa NZ

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Name: Suzy Maddox
Role: National Sales Manager
Company: Hachette Aotearoa NZ

My first job in publishing was: I first started in the book industry, in between high school and university, as a book buyer for London Bookshops. I moved onto working for a small independent bookstore as I studied, and then, when I moved to London, I worked at Waterstones Camden Town. Coming back home I was the buyer for UBS Auckland, the NZ buyer for Borders and then offered a newly created role Key Account Manager at Hachette NZ, where I’ve been ever since.

I’m currently reading: Lots of 2022 titles, including the new Patrick Gale and Monica Ali.

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: I can’t pinpoint one; it’s a great industry and there are so many things I have loved, and love, about it.

Kat Quin, Illustrated Publishing

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Name: Kat Quin
Role: Director / Author / Illustrator
Company: Illustrated Publishing

My first job in publishing was: My first job was at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, back in 2000 (at the age of 18). I worked on my first publishing project there with the incredible Te Ara Reo Māori team, developing educational resources. When I was 19 I went out on my own, and continued publishing work with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and other educational clients.

I’m currently reading: We have 5 young tamariki at home, and have just finished 2 weeks of school holidays… so unfortunately I have not had a spare minute to pick up a book for myself! But, I am reading Oliver Jeffers: The Working Mind and Drawing Hand with the children, and I’d say truthfully, it is 20% for them, and 80% for me!

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: We have managed to raise over $50,000, through book sales, for our chosen charity Kiwis for Kiwi. It is such a rewarding collaboration that we are super passionate about. To celebrate, we even got to assist in the release of a kiwi chick onto a sanctuary island!

Nicola Whitley, Nicola Jae Publishing

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Name: Nicola Whitley
Role: Publisher
Company: Nicola Jae Publishing

My first job in publishing was: Actually, this is the start of my publishing road. Surrounded by many books in our household, I was taught early on to respect the power of reading books. Being a confident creative, I’ve enjoyed every part of the book creation process. As well as through to the marketing and sales side too. I love to work close to the daily functions of this small business. There’s always plenty to do.

I’m currently reading: An older Readers Digest book named Almanac of the Uncanny, from my dad’s library.

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: Every book re-order has me smiling. However my highlight would have to be with the individual people, along with the community of publishers and bookstores that I’ve been involved with so far. It’s a wonderful industry full of passionate people, and I’m thoroughly enjoying these connections.

Abby Aitcheson, Upstart Press

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Name: Abby Aitcheson
Role: Commissioning Editor
Company: Upstart Press

My first job in publishing was: Editorial Assistant at PQ Blackwell (now Blackwell & Ruth). Glam books, gorgeous people – it made me feel pretty cool.

I’m currently reading: Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes. I just finished Greta & Valdin and I can’t stop thinking about it. Ridiculously good!

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: Afraid I’m going to have to do some name-dropping here… Receiving handwritten letters from childhood hero Jack Lasenby. Or having a kiki with Witi Ihimaera. Or when Dame Lynley Dodd agreed with me that an en dash would work better than a comma. Cheers, PRH! More recently: becoming a commissioning editor and getting the opportunity to champion new authors for Upstart Press. It’s an honour.

Krysana Hanley, Allen & Unwin New Zealand

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Name: Krysana Hanley
Sales, Marketing and Publicity Assistant
Allen & Unwin

My first job in publishing was: Working as a part-time production assistant for Roger Steele at Steele Roberts Aotearoa. I would go out to Petone on Fridays and do anything that needed to be done. From proof reading to laying out internals in InDesign, those Fridays were my first glimpses into how te ao pukapuka works behind the scenes.

I’m currently reading: Auē by Becky Manawatu. I’m about a third of the way through and loving it.

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: When you’re so new to the industry, everything feels like a highlight! But being able to work with the incredible team at Allen & Unwin so soon after finishing my Graduate Diploma in Publishing at Whitireia is definitely at the top. I did one of my two-week placements with them in October last year and felt so welcome when I returned to work for them in April.


Jasmine Sargent, Victoria University Press

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Name: Jasmine Sargent
Role: Editor
Company: Victoria University Press

My first job in publishing was: Publishing Assistant at Te Papa Press. I was studying publishing at Whitireia at the time — I couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction to the industry, and I love the Te Papa Press team.

I’m currently reading: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. It’s a novel about gender discrimination in Korean society, written by South Korean author Cho Nam-Joo.

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: I’ve got a pretty recent one! Airini Beautrais’ short story collection Bug Week just won the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2021 Ockhams, and I was the lucky editor. Airini is brilliant to work with, and the editorial process was especially memorable because it happened during lockdown last year.

Holly Hunter, HarperCollins NZ

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Holly pictured at Lake Windermere in the Lake District. The village in the northeast corner of the lake is William Wordsworth’s stomping ground.

Name: Holly Hunter
Role: Commissioning editor
Company: HarperCollins NZ

My first job in publishing was: As a Whitirea graduate intern at Victoria University Press, where I continued to work as editor for a couple of years.

I’m currently reading: Unsheltered by Claire Moleta. It’s un-put-downable and so well crafted — can someone make this into a miniseries, please? I’m also pacing my way through an enormous mic-drop of a poetry collection, A Sand Book by Ariana Reines.

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been: There have been lots of highlights. One is working on the UK publication and campaign for The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells while in my last job as an assistant editor for Penguin Press in London. I remember the mood during the covers meeting in 2018: as much as everyone was behind the manuscript, there was a fear that any design treatment that said ‘climate change’ would doom the book — that’s how unsexy climate change was in publishing just three years ago.

And then somehow (well, thanks Greta), in the months around publication, the book rode a wave of perfect timing. Countries started declaring climate emergencies, phrasing switched from climate change to climate crisis, news sites dedicated whole sections to the subject, people took to the streets. And the book shot up the charts — an unknown ‘climate intellectual’ had met the bestseller ranks of Naomi Klein and Al Gore. The Guardian called it ‘an epoch-defining book’.

At the Extinction Rebellion protests in April 2019, which blocked arterial routes like Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch, I saw multiple signs in person and in articles online that referenced parts of the book: the dead bee on the cover and the strapline, ‘It is worse, much worse, than you think.’ Marketing colleagues gave free copies of the book to protestors. The publicity kept on rolling. There were a lot of rockstar moments while working at Press, but there was something special about helping publish a book that became a part of a movement I believe in. Two-and-a-half years from then, you can’t move in a bookshop for climate books!

Emma McIlroy, Gecko Press

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Name: Emma McIlroy
Company: Gecko Press

What has been a highlight so far?  A (few) highlights for me have been meeting authors and chatting with them, getting to look at books from around the world and consider them for acquisition, and working in a small team where I get to pitch in on most things. Also, sometimes cute babies come into the office and we get to give them books. Circe by Madeline Miller.

What has been a challenge? A challenge has been that because it’s a small team where I get to pitch in on most things, there’s been a lot to learn, from bigger processes like setting up a book and its metadata to smaller processes like sending websales and that can be pretty exhausting, although satisfying once I’ve got the hang of it.

How have you found “real world” publishing different from the expectations you had while on your course? I would have to say that actually the course and especially the work placements gave me a pretty good idea of ‘real world’ publishing, and what happens in a publishing house on a day-to-day level.

What are you reading at the moment? I’m one of those people that reads more than one book at a time, although not in the same genre, so here are the books I am currently reading, all of which I am thoroughly enjoying: Imagining Decolonisation for a bit of non-fiction, My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff for a bit of fiction (reading this on the Libby app, I am obsessed with how easy and good it is and getting books from the library that way!) and I am in Bed with You by Emma Barnes for a bit of poetry.

Lauren Donald, Auckland University Press

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Name: Lauren Donald
Company: Auckland University Press

Since starting your internship…  I’ve sustained three paper cuts, become best friends with our local courier and found myself interested in all sorts of new topics.

What has been a highlight so far?  AUP’s mahi around the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka titles and weekly te reo lessons have really helped build my confidence in using Māori every day. It’s definitely a highlight to be more at ease with the language and to be genuinely excited about learning more.

What has been a challenge? There’s no avoiding Excel. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s about time I learned what a pivot table is.

How have you found “real world” publishing different from the expectations you had while on your course? ‘Real world’ publishing is the more complex older sibling to the work we did at Whitireia. I’ve been really interested to see how far into the future the team is working, and how many different books are on the go at once. There are so many overlaps in timelines and projects that it really makes you appreciate the people who are holding on to all the strings!

What are you reading at the moment? I’ve just finished Where We Swim by Ingrid Horrocks, and now I’m picking up Circe by Madeline Miller.