Interview with Danny Pearson, Author and Publisher

I’m delighted to welcome Danny Pearson here today to chat about his work in publishing, from editing books, writing his own, and writing for the Beano! He’s been so busy recently I couldn’t help but make him busier by asking him to stop by and tell us about everything he’s been getting up to!

Kate Ormand: Hi Danny! It’s great to have you here! Where do we start?! Firstly, can you tell us about your work in publishing?
Danny Pearson: Well, I studied art at college, which led me onto studying Art and Graphic Design at Leeds Metropolitan University. After graduating, and with no definite ideas about what to do, I found a job as a children’s bookseller at a Waterstones bookshop. This is where I rekindled my love of books (children’s books in particular). I joined Badger Publishing in 2008 and I am now the Publisher.

I have worked on hundreds of publications, ranging from phonics books for primary school students all the way up to A level science resource books for teachers. I am constantly scribbling down ideas and thoughts and I have many more plans for future books. At the moment we are focused on books for reluctant/struggling readers.

KO: The series at Badger often have a theme – Papercuts, Big Top of Horrors. What do you enjoy most about being part of the team that brings it all together?
DP: We have a very small team here at Badger. This often means we can react very quickly to the market and publish a series in a matter of months. Larger publishers will take longer. I am pleased to say that we have actually set a few trends in the reluctant readers market over the years that larger publishers have ‘borrowed’ ideas, artists and writers from.

Papercuts series

KO: One of your most recent stories was part of the Papercuts series, where we shared an awesome illustrator – Mark Penman. What did you enjoy most about writing Alice?
DP: I loved writing Alice and the cover artwork is eyeball meltingly awesome. I have always been a fan of horror books and our writers were given a lot of freedom with these titles and we took a few risks with the content. It thankfully paid off as the feedback we have got back from students, and teachers, has been phenomenal. These books ARE what young adults want to read. These sinister titles have been written by respected and accomplished authors and include elements of horror, the supernatural, action and adventure.

With a reading age of 8–9, these eerie books with extraordinary covers are perfect for students who are intimidated by full-length novels. A couple of the titles are also up for awards next year!

Alice - Photo

KO: Can you tell us about some of your other teen titles?
DP: We have five sets of Teen Read books. Two sets of Young Adult books and a couple more sets that sit somewhere in between. I have always attempted to publish books that are exciting and only the best titles are selected from the submissions we receive. I pride myself on making sure that we have a great mix of writers and the characters in our books reflect the diverse society we live in today.

KO: You also write for the Beano! What’s that like? What do you love most about it?
DP: I write for various publishers BUT the Beano is the top of the food chain for me. The Beano, celebrates its 80th Birthday this year! I think everyone knows at least one of the characters from the Beano. I remember taking the short walk, up the road from my family home, to the newsagents at Ninesprings Way, in Hitchin, every week to collect my copy of the Beano. The owner would have it waiting for me, with my name handwritten in the top corner. Every Christmas, like clockwork, my grandparents would wrap up a copy of the latest Beano annual and give it to me as a gift.I somehow make time for my Beano writing! Usually late at night or on a Sunday, but it is all worth it. I feel so lucky to have been able to work with such great characters like Bananaman, Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx, Ball Boy, Gnasher and Gnipper and Billy Whizz. I loved being able to share my love for the Beano with people from ‘The Shire’ (Hertfordshire) at the events I was involved in with the Summer Reading Challenge. We have so many Beano fans in the area and it was great to hear stories of their favourite characters, and their ideas for future scripts!

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KO: You were at London Film & Comic Con this year! Can you tell us about the experience?
DP: It was brilliant. I was there to take part in a panel talk – ‘80 years of the Beano’. I shared the stage with other Beano contributors, old and new. I loved hearing their stories and it was a real honour to be part of it. I was also there to promote comic books for the Summer Reading Challenge and The Reading Agency. The love for the Beano was very strong at the London Film and Comic con. No wonder the Beano has posted its third successive yearly sales increase!!!

KO: What’s next for you?
DP: I have been asked to speak at my old school about all things publishing. I look forward to that as I haven’t been there in over 15 years!

HCBF 2018

KO: And to wrap up, can we end with a quote from one of your books?
DP: Taken from Alice,

She looked up to see Chester’s eyes glowing bright
red. Her head felt light again and the room was
slowly turning.

“But… but why me?” she asked.

Chester grinned; he now had a mouth full of
razor-sharp fangs. “The question you should ask,
Alice, is why not you?”