Written by Sarah O'Keffe on 18th July 2018.
Sara O’ Keeffe is the Editorial Director of Corvus, the commercial imprint of Atlantic Books. Sara publishes a broad range of genre fiction from crime and thriller through to historical and women’s fiction. She is the publisher of a number of bestselling authors including Minette Walters, Elizabeth Buchan and Holly Seddon.
Although I started working in publishing way back in the Palaeolithic era (the Stone Ages), I vividly remember the terror of trying to find accommodation in London on top of the breathless and exhausting hunt for a job – any job.
It’s easy to romanticise those kinds of experiences with hindsight, but the reality is if you’re in a big city without a safety net, life can feel perilous. Fast forward several million years and here I am at my desk, reading about this fabulous new initiative. I knew immediately that I had to volunteer for The Spare Room Project, imagining I would be playing host to a younger version of myself – sort of like a scene from an Enid Blyton novel, but without the racism.
What I actually got was a charming young man named Connor Brown from Sheffield, equipped with more common sense and better shoes than I could ever hope to possess. He won the subtle battle for my children’s affection in all of four seconds by turning up with Lego and declaring his love for Mario Cart. It’s fair to say the whole house practically swooned. In no time at all, Connor felt like part of the family, except that I had zero parental responsibility for him. Heaven. I can’t be too worthy about my experience of hosting Connor. It was just a lot of fun.
Connor now works for Penguin in their non-fiction department and is already making his mark on the publishing world. In between carving his path as a rising star, he occasionally visits us for epic Mario Cart battles and Lego-thons. It’s been a huge pleasure to get to know Connor and we see him very much as a friend of the family now and our world is richer for it. Also, my little boy simply thinks he’s the coolest.