Interview: Mary Verney, Editor (Walker Books)

The Centre for Youth Literature has picked the brains of Australia’s YA publishers to gain insight into their work, and their titles.  For the next few weeks we will be featuring interviews with a number of individuals on their work in YA publishing.

My name is Mary Verney and I am an editor at Walker Books Australia, a subsidiary to the world-renowned English publisher of children’s books. The Walker office is based in Newtown, Sydney and we publish everything from board books to YA fiction. It is my job to work with authors to make their manuscript the best it can be before it goes to print and enters the world. It is a wonderful job and I consider myself very luck to be part of such a great industry. I started out in retail, managing a book department for Myer in Brisbane. After completing a Diploma of Editing and Publishing, I moved to Sydney to work for Pan Macmillan as an editorial assistant. I’ve been working at Walker Books for three years, first as a junior editor, now as an editor.

What is the first book you worked on and in what capacity?
The first YA book I worked when I was a junior editor at Walker, was The Project by Brian Falkner. It is an action-packed adventure that jumps between modern-day Iowa and Germany during World War II. A lot of fact checking was required and that was my job. Around the same time I was proofreading the first of the Rosie Black Chronicles, Genesis.

What is the most anticipated release of this year?
I’d have to say the second book in The Tribe series – The Disappearance of Ember Crow. I’m working on the manuscript at the moment, and it is wonderful – it starts with a bang, and the stakes just couldn’t get any higher for our protagonist Ashala and her Tribe. The author, Ambelin Kwaymullina, has really stepped up the pace in this second novel and the reader will be hooked from the very first line! It is being published later in the year.

What are the popular themes in YA right now?
I think dystopian fiction has knocked the vampires off their perch. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf has done really well; readers have connected with Ashala and her struggle and are also intrigued by the elements of spiritual wisdom that Ambelin has woven throughout the novel. Lara Morgan’s series The Rosie Black Chronicles is another fantastic take on the fictional future of Australia and has been very popular. Both books have environmental themes and that is quiet a hot topic.Many novels for the YA readership deal with belonging. Finding out who you are and where you fit in is such a big part of entering adulthood that it will always be something writers of YA fiction explore. I love novels like Little Sister by Aimee Said and Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron for their exploration of friendship, family and belonging.

Which fictional character would you like to be?
Oh, that is a hard question … I think at the moment I’d have to say Georgie Spider from The Tribe series. Her ability – to see various possible futures – is pretty amazing. Plus she has a calm dreamy quality that I really like. She always knows the right thing to say as well, which is a great trait to have. Plus I’m really keen to see where her character goes over the course of the series.

A big thank you to Mary for her time away from editing what is sure to be a great addition to the Australian YA scene.



  1. Ian & Cate Glenwright says:

    Great to hear your comments Mary. Great to hear that YA Fiction is still alive and doing well. Please keep up the good work for the future of our young people……

Leave a comment

Comments may be reviewed before being published.

Please read our blog guidelines before you reply.

Will not be published