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Sian Devine on her Spare Room Project experience

Sian Devine on her Spare Room Project experience

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Written by Sian Devine on Monday 10th July 2017.

Born and raised in the city of Manchester – I am fortunate in so many ways. But unfortunately, a large proportion of publishing opportunities arise in London, and when it comes to internships and work experience, working in a city (nearly 200 miles from my own) means living in that city for the duration of a placement. Which becomes rather expensive rather quickly.

Having secured a placement with Cornerstone Publicity at Penguin Random House in May 2017, I was thrilled to make my first steps into the industry I desire to work for. However, it wasn’t long after I accepted the offer that money became a concern. Having seen the Spare Room Project circulating on Twitter I thought I would make contact to see if anything would come of it, and to my surprise I was paired with the generous Isabelle Grey, who was willing to put me up for a week in her Camden home.

When I got there I couldn’t believe my luck – it was everything I could have wished for and more. I had the best of both worlds: in the days I would work with the Cornerstone publicity team, assisting at book launches, producing press releases and conducting various research tasks. In the evenings I would return to Isabelle in Camden Town, where we would discuss everything and anything – as an avid reader of crime and thriller fiction, learning about Isabelle’s work as a crime writer was fascinating – I even got to offer some suggestions for her work-in-progress! It was great to learn first-hand about the author’s side of the industry, along with my experience in the publishing workspace, particularly as I wish to become an author myself someday.

It is difficult to put into words how magnificent Isabelle was as a host – she is an intelligent, kind-hearted and inspiring woman, and during the week that I stayed with her I felt like I was living in a home away from home. I never wanted to leave – my to-be-read pile of books has grown substantially from all of her recommendations – and I feel that I have made a friend and mentor for life in Isabelle.

I cannot shout my praises enough for the Spare Room Project. The scheme is a wonderful step forward in diversifying publishing environments and encouraging inclusivity within the industry. Without it I’m not sure I could have afforded accommodation in London for the duration of my placement with Penguin, and it also meant that I was learning things about the publishing community outside of working hours. While the project is not the solution to a rather London-centric industry, it is certainly a step in the right direction, and I would encourage more authors and publishers to think about getting involved as a potential host! As for those aspiring to get a foot in the industry door – do check out this project – I promise you won’t regret it.

Find out more about the Spare Room Project.