Interview: Susannah Chambers (Senior Editor), Allen & Unwin

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.

Let’s welcome Susannah Chambers, the Senior Editor for Books for Children & Teenagers at Allen & Unwin.

As a Senior Editor, I provide editorial feedback and support to the author; develop ideas and take part in discussions and brainstorming regarding list-building and commissioning; read and read and read manuscripts; manage production from manuscript to printed book, including liaising with authors, designers, typesetters, printers, and in-house staff; direct design of cover and text; write cover blurbs and other marketing copy as required. I am responsible for helping the author make the book the best it can be. The process of shepherding a book from manuscript to beautiful new book can be quite mysterious for writers being published for the first time. On our blog Alien Onion we have attempted to demystify this process by a series of posts entitled What do Editors Do All Day.

What is the first book you worked on and in what capacity?
Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis. Rosalind Price was the publisher and I was the production editor. I briefed the cover designer, Australianised the text, checked the page proofs and sent the book to the printer.

What is the most anticipated release of this year?
When We Wake by Karen Healey & Evan’s Gallipoli by Kerry Greenwood

What are the popular themes in YA right now?
Broader settings come and go – Dystopia, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Action, Contemporary Realism – but the core themes seem to remain constant: finding out who you are and who you aren’t, learning to navigate the world (whatever state that world is in), making choices and discovering how those choices – good and bad – affect your friends, family, loves, and the broader community.

Which fictional character would you like to be?

  • Lirael (from Lirael by Garth Nix) – because she is brave and resourceful and clever, and works in a dangerous library and is best friends with the Disreputable Dog
  • Anne of Green Gables (from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery) – who wouldn’t want to live on Prince Edward Island and marry Gilbert Blythe?
  • Lyra Belacqua (from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman) – I’m not saying I’d want to go through everything (anything?) she does, but having a daemon and being friends with an armoured bear would be pretty terrific.



  1. Tom Andrew says:

    What a wonderful interview of what I’m sure is a lovely woman! Cheers and good luck!

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