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'Someone who knows how to tell a story'

16 January 2017

As an editor, I'm often asked what sorts of books I am looking for, and my answer is invariably the same. Whether it's crime or fantasy or women's fiction, I am looking for one thing: someone who knows how to tell a story.

It should be a story that asks questions of the reader; that takes us from our known world and plunges us into another; it should be filled with believable characters who we care about; and it should have a narrative with a beginning, middle and an end that draws all the different strands together in a satisfying way.

Is finding a story like this an easy task? Well, no - but when you do come across one that pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages, it's the best feeling in the world. I remember when I read the initial draft of S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep being so gripped that I forgot I was having lunch with a colleague...

For me, though, the best part of all is when a new book lands on my desk. I will pick it up, maybe re-read that all-important first chapter, keep it on my desk and look at it for a few hours - before sending it off to its rightful parent, the author, so it can begin its journey into a world of discovery and delight.

Selina Walker, Publisher of Century and Arrow at Penguin Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing on Mail Online