my Interview with Barry Cunningham, the man who discovered J.K. Rowling
DE: Wie versprochen geht heute das erste Interview der Buchmesse online. Barry Cunningham entdeckte J.K. Rowlings ersten Harry Potter Roman 1997 und nahm ihn für den Verlag Bloomsbury unter Vertrag. Drei Jahre später gründete er "The Chickenhouse". Zu den Autoren, die Barry Cunningham verlegt, gehören unter anderem Cornelia Funke, Kerstin Gier und Kevin Brooks. Im Interview sprach er über seine Arbeit als Verleger, die Anfänge mit J.K. Rowling und seine neuste Entdeckung. Ich habe mich bewusst für die Veröffentlichung der englische Version des Interviews entschieden. Das deutsche Interview könnt ihr aber gern hier nachlesen.
EN: Without him, we would never have gone on a journey with Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione. Barry Cunningham discovered J.K. Rowling's novel in 1997 and contracted her for the publishing house Bloomsbury. He particularly promotes young unknown authors and already worked with Kerstin Gier, Cornelia Funke and Kevin Brooks. In 2000 he founded his own publishing company "The Chicken House".
I met Barry Cunningham at the Leipzig Book Fair and we talked about his work as a publisher, the discovery of J.K. Rowling and his next big project.
Did you already have time to visit the book fair?
Yes, I have been around it. But I came two years ago as well and I love it. Everyone gets dressed up. I like this kind of celebrating books. In many book fairs in other countries they don´t have such an open policy of letting readers in. It is great.
How did you become a publisher?
It was an accident. I started out in marketing and publicity and I became fascinated in the way children relate to authors and their work. Books are like secret friends of childhood and children are the most adventurous readers. They follow you through the back of the wardrobe or to strange land as long as it makes sense. They are much less conservative. They won´t read the books they are supposed to read. They do not care about reviews. Children, who haven´t got much money and children who are very rich, can like the same thing. It is a very pure market, so I was inspired to work in children´s books.
What do you like most about your Job?
I like reader’s reactions. I am more interested in readers than authors. I think authors are great, but their work does not have any life unless readers like it. I love it when you got a book that readers talk about and pass on to each other. It is the best thing.
What does your daily routine look like?
I don´t have a daily routine. I never get tired of reading books and I get a lot of manuscripts to read. I always think the next one could be really special. I have a great life, because I do not have a course.
What makes out a good script?
I think getting the voice right. A voice, that is like an authentic voice of childhood within the story.
When you read the first Harry Potter book, what was the thing that convinced you? At least the script was declined by lots of publishers before.
I loved the humor, because in those days fantasy was not funny. I liked the owls in Hogwarts. But it really was the friendship between the three main characters that make me buy it. I loved the way they supported each other.
But there is this famous anecdote about you telling J.K. Rowling, that the book will never be successful.
I said I was worried about that. I choose a single mother and she did not have much money. So I said to her she should get a day job, because she will never earn any money with children’s books. I did not think she would end up as one of the richest women in the world (laughs).
What are your tips or advices for young prospective writers?
Young authors should find what they really care about. They should look for the thing that makes them most angry or unhappy, because that is the heart in books that makes them worth reading.
Have you ever thought about writing your own book?
No, I can´t. I have so many voices of other people in my head, I could just write an imitation.
What book are your reading at the Moment?
I am reading a wonderful new book called “The Beetle Boy” by M.G. Leonard, which is a manuscript that we will be publishing next year. And I am reading the third draft, which is finally finished working. I am very excited about it.