Over the last few months we’ve had the pleasure of working with, and getting to know, Melanie Persson—our latest intern. So we thought we’d introduce her to you by getting her to answer a few questions.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Melanie.
Hi there, my name is Melanie. I’m from all over the place, really. I lived in Japan as a kid, then my family moved to the south-west of WA where I grew up and went to school. After high school, and a year abroad on a student exchange, I moved to Perth to start uni. When I’m not hunched in my study nook, furiously typing up an assignment I left to the last minute, you’ll find me reading, cooking, cuddling my dogs or partaking in the occasional Netflix binge. My latest hobby also happens to be relevant to my degree (an added bonus) and involves writing children’s picture books. I’ve become obsessed with how influential books can be in a child’s life, and I’m passionate about making my own (books, not children FYI).
What are you studying at university, and how did you come to study that subject?
Well, that’s a good question. When I started at UWA as a fresh-faced, overzealous first year, I was convinced that my stubborn streak and penchant for arguing my way out of everything meant that I should be a lawyer. Throughout my undergrad, I yawned through my law units, and dabbled in languages, science and literature before eventually realising that I wanted to write, or at least, be involved in the literary world. I decided I would pursue a postgraduate degree in Writing and Literature through the Masters program at Deakin University. I am now happily struggling to juggle my coursework and a thesis, which will focus on anthropomorphism in children’s literature.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I know it’s a cliche, but I don’t think I can narrow it down to a single author. Like just about everyone my age, there’s no doubt that J.K. Rowling had a huge influence on me growing up (listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks is still a guilty pleasure), but there are a number of other writers whose work has enthralled me on and off over the years. Some of the names that come to mind immediately are Tamora Pierce, Paullina Simons, John Grisham and Shaun Tan. They are all completely different, and their books don’t fit neatly into a genre together, but these are the names that reside in the prime realestate in my bookcase at home.
What does a typical day involve as an intern at Margaret River Press?
Every Monday, I arrive at the office at nine o’clock, tea in hand, and struggle to remember the code for the front door. I put my lunch in the fridge and settle down at my desk, opening up the pages for our website, social media accounts and Hootsuite. What we are doing at the moment is very social media-oriented, so most days I can dive straight into organising the posts for the coming week. This means formatting and scheduling our weekly blog post and the accompanying posts on Facebook and Twitter. It also means I get to hunt for the weekly ‘Friday Read’ to keep our readers engaged, either with pieces of published writing by contributors to one of our anthologies or with various thought-provoking articles we’ve found that we feel are worth sharing.
At around twelve, we stop for lunch, usually in the reading room surrounded by books, or—if the sun is feeling generous—we might eat in the courtyard, soaking up any meagre offerings of vitamin D. The afternoon usually whizzes by. This time is often spent reading in one form or another. It might involve reading through manuscripts to find enigmatic snippets to post as teasers, or reading articles and blog posts by contributors to our anthologies that we can share to social media. A cup of tea or two later, I usually pack up and head home between four and five o’clock.
Is there a particular area of publishing you’re looking to head into, or are you interested in another type of work?
I’m still unsure of the direction I’m planning to take. At the moment, I’m really loving my Masters project and I feel like my field of research is in need of further exploration. I’d love to pursue a PhD and delve further into the subject. If I do go down that road, I would probably aspire to teach at a university as I know I would really enjoy that. In saying all that, I am fascinated by the publishing industry and being surrounded by books has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. So … who knows! Maybe I’ll even get somewhere with these picture books I’m writing. We shall see.