Lisa Highton, Publisher of Two Roads
Born and educated in London, I took a quick trip to Australia and stayed for a very long time, only moving back to London in 2005. During my time there I worked with Macmillan, and was publishing director of Doubleday, HarperCollins and, finally, Hodder & Stoughton (now Hachette) which I joined in 1993. Although I’ve been an editor for decades, I’ve worked in most aspects of publishing: sales, publicity, educational editing, and both adult and children’s publishing. I’ve also been a freelance journalist and an author.
Australia fed my love of travel and curiosity about other places. Australians travel a lot and read widely so I love books about other places and different experiences. I’m a big fan of American and Australian writing – voice and place-led narrative. Interestingly, Two Roads now has a lot of Scottish writers – think if I had a reading DNA splice it would show a mixture of American, Scottish, and Australian. Oh yes, and English!
I started Two Roads in 2011 – concentrating on twelve to fifteen books a year – roughly half fiction and non-fiction. Strong narrative-led stories, over a wide range of subjects that appeal to us personally. This small number allows us to concentrate on publishing books thoroughly and devoting the necessary time and attention. Since we started we have gone from strength to strength, still sticking to the magic fifteen.
Kate Hewson, Editorial Director Non-fiction
A combination of a love of stories and undiagnosed myopia meant I spent most of my childhood with my nose firmly planted in a book, and – though I do now have glasses – things are much the same today. After studying English at UCL I weaselled my way into an editorial assistant job in non-fiction at Pan Macmillan, where I worked my way up to editor across the Macmillan, Sidgwick & Jackson, Rodale and Boxtree lists. In 2013 I joined Icon Books as commissioning editor, publishing everything from history and politics to humour and business titles.
Which leads me to now! I joined Two Roads as senior non-fiction editor in February 2015, to expand our strong narrative non-fiction list. I have pretty magpie-ish tastes (which is one of the reasons I love working in non-fiction), but put simply I’m looking for those books that drag you in and don’t let go – stories that are stranger than fiction, brilliantly written and dying to be told. The books I have the most professional jealousy over include Do No Harm, The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and Yes Please, and I’m after similarly unique voices; writers with the gift of communication who can illuminate their subject matter with ease and flair.
Katherine Burdon, Editorial Assistant
Thanks to a series of fortunate events, I started as Editorial Assistant at Two Roads in September 2017, and am still trying to figure out how I’ve been lucky enough to end up here.
Originally from the Midlands, I only made it so far as Warwick University – interrupted by a year’s stint teaching English to teenagers in rural Germany – before moving to London in September 2016 to start an MA in Comparative Literature at UCL. Sensing a world outside the safety of the academic bubble, I applied to the Fresh Chapters scheme at Hachette and was startled when John Murray offered me an internship with their Marketing and Publicity department. After a fantastically fun summer, it was a matter of right place, right time, right now, and I migrated (read: shifted three desks over) to start with Two Roads. Still pinching myself most Monday mornings, to check it’s real.
Favourite books (Lisa)
Personally, I buy a lot of books for which there never seem to be enough bookshelves. Too many books too little time will be my epitaph when my TBR pile finally falls over and buries me. So here is a (by no means exhaustive) list of just some of the books that I would always make sure I had around me or have read recently and loved (with probably no surprises either)…
Lists are daft things but here goes:
The Great Gatsby, Le Grand Meaulnes, Jane Eyre, Cold Comfort Farm, The Outcasts, Three Men in a Boat, One Day, I Capture the Castle, The Water Babies, Rebecca, Little Women, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Cloud Atlas, Atonement, Prep, Running With Scissors, His Dark Materials, The Book Thief, A Fine Balance, Vanity Fair, Olive Kitteridge, Tinker Tailor, Scoop, The Wasp Factory, March, Room, Across the Nightingale Floor, The Woman in White, Sherlock Holmes, Red Dragon, Crossing to Safety, The Music Room, The Levant Trilogy, The Sense of an Ending, Persepolis, How I Live Now, Restless, Cloudstreet, The Man Who Loved Children, all or most of Nancy Mitford/Nora Ephron/ Raymond Chandler/Graham Greene/ David Sedaris/Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Short stories: Saki, Maugham, Chekov, Dahl, Moore, Carter, de Maupassant, Moore to name but a few obvious ones.
Looking for something to read? Try this – The Guardian 100 best novels
Favourite books (Kate)
This is a very non-exhaustive list of the books that would spring into my head if someone asked what they should read next. Apparently I like books with either animals or the word ‘castle’ in the title.
I Capture the Castle, Moby Dick, Leviathan (Philip Hoare, not Thomas Hobbes), Direct Red, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Crossing to Safety, They Came Like Sparrows, The Time of Our Singing, The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Painted Veil, His Dark Materials, All Creatures Great and Small, Nothing to Envy, Random Family, The Handmaid’s Tale, Into the Wild, Fahrenheit 451, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Bell Jar
Favourite books (Kat)
This is my most favourite, and best rehearsed question, and one that people inevitably regret asking as my eclectic reading taste combines with my utter lack of decision making ability to produce a list of epic, and, frankly, boring proportions. See below for an edited version – i.e. the books I would lug to the other side of the world and back. I love almost everything I read, unless I don’t, in which case I really won’t like it at all. Especially if it’s written by Ian McEwan.
Sense and Sensibility, The Great Gatsby, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Alchemist, A Little Life, His Dark Materials, Palestine, The Buddha of Suburbia, The Atom Station, One Day, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Harry Potter, We Should All Be Feminists, The Lonely Londoners, and all of the Discworld series
Poetry: EE Cummings, Ben Lerner, Langston Hughes, Charly Cox