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!