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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Visit to Penguin

Wow! What a weekend I've had! I flew to Melbourne and went to Penguin Australia HQ. I was so inspired and amazed. I can't wait to tell you all about it. But, let me start at the beginning. If you're not following me on Instagram then go and follow me and check out the pictures of Melbourne that I put up. Username - hannahdowning81

So, this is going to seem off topic, but just let me start and you'll see that it all fits together. My hair has been driving me crazy! (off topic right? lol) It was too long and the ends were dead and straggly but I just hadn't had any time to get to the hairdresser. I was shopping on Thursday night, walked past a hairdresser that only had one client and just walked inside. They sat me down right away and I got my hair cut. A was given a male hairdresser who was friendly and had an Irish accent (which I just love) and he did a great job with my hair. I'm very happy with it. The reason I'm bringing this up because he was very sweet.

While he was washing my hair he asked what I had planned for the weekend and I said, "I'm going to Melbourne because I have a meeting at Penguin. I'm kind of an author." Our conversation grew from there. He was so excited about my book and even though I hadn't asked him to blow dry my hair, he did it for free so that we could keep talking. It gave me such a confidence boost. I know where I'll be going next time my hair needs a trim.

Now, down to business. Me at Penguin HQ.

I arrived in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, made my way to my hotel and bunkered in for the night. I thought about going out and enjoying the city but the truth was that I'd been to Melbourne a few times before so I knew what was out there and I didn't want to have a late night and be tired for the following day. So, as boring as it was, I ate dinner, watched some TV, read a little and then had an early night.

Saturday morning I made my way to the Penguin office. My breath was taken away by the building. I walked inside and literally, my jaw dropped. The office is built inside an old train station so it has these high, vaulted ceilings with crossbeams going in all directions, exposed brick walls and it smelled like books. I swear, it smelled of paper and sawdust and... books.

There was a lot of technology as well, computers as far as the eye could see, but also little soundproof reading nooks tucked into corners where you could escape the bustle of the office. Honestly, I was inspired just being in that office that I could have sat down and written right there. Here are some pictures that I snapped from inside -

So, what happened once I was inside? A LOT!! I met many Penguin staff including the Commercial Fiction Publisher, marketing, sales as well as some published Penguin authors. I did my pitch and we spent three times the amount of time then we'd been allocated because she kept asking questions and wanted to know everything about the book. She LOVED The Time Walker and after much discussion about the series and what I wanted to do with the story arc, she invited me to submit my manuscript. AMAZING!

One of the authors I met was International Best Selling Author, Anne Gracie. I told her about The Time Walker and she gave me one of her books and signed it for me. The autograph says - "To dear Hannah, All the best with your Time Walker! Anne Gracie."

She asked me to keep in touch and let her know if The Time Walker gets published. How lovely!!

I walked out of there floating in an inspired bubble and with a bag of Penguin swag slung over my shoulder. They were generous and gave me a bag full of goodies to take home.

I had an amazing time. It's truly something I will never forget. Even if they don't publish my book, the experience and knowledge about the industry that I gained was priceless.

Thank you to everyone at Penguin HQ Australia for such a warm and inviting welcome and for loving my pitch. I hope you enjoy reading the story just as much!!

H xx


  1. Sounds like you got the star treatment, Hannah! I'm glad you had a wonderful experience. :-)

  2. Congrats, Hannah! I knew you'd be great. You're a wonderful writer. :] I can't wait to read this series!

  3. I love that you included the haircut in this post - totally part of this amazing experience. It's extra cool they tripled your time to talk about your series. Take that inspiration and run with it! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  4. Sounds like an amazing time, and I'd love to read the Time Walker series. (I was hooked from the little I read.) Thanks for sharing your experience and giving us an inside look at Penguin.