The Firefly Team

Penny Thomas

Publisher

Penny has always been a compulsive reader and was never out of the library at school or in Harpenden, Herts, where she grew up. She took a degree in English Language and Literature at Keble 
College, Oxford, and worked as an editorial assistant in London before moving to Cardiff to train as a journalist in 1988.
 After fourteen years in regional journalism, and two kids, she took a proofreading course and realised publishing was for her.
 She has since freelanced for many great presses and was fiction editor for literary publisher Seren Books for 11 years. She never got over that early love of books, so Firefly is a long-cherished ambition. Books for children and
 teenagers have moved on since those dark ages of course, although classics remain, but she is determined that Firefly
 books will inspire readers in just the same way.

Favourite children’s books:

Way way too many to mention, but one favourite was A Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. There was a copy in the local library, with colour plates, that I had out on almost permanent loan, so nobody else nearby could have read it much. I thought I was alone in this until someone called JK something announced it had been her favourite book as a child too – making the rights that much harder to come by! It fed a love of countryside and magic, seahorses, turret rooms and salmon-pink geraniums…

Robin Bennett

Commercial Director | Author 

Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children. He has also written books on the swashbuckling world of business. His documentary Fantastic Britain, about the British obsession with magic and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.

Aged 21 he was all set to become a cavalry officer and aged 21 and a half, he found himself working as an assistant grave digger in South London wondering where it had all gone wrong.

He went on and founded The Bennett Group, aged 23, and since then has gone on to start and run over a dozen successful businesses in a variety of areas from dog-sitting to cigars, translation to home tuition. The list is a bit exhausting. In 2003 Robin was recognised in Who’s Who as one of the UK’s most successful business initiators.

Favourite children’s books:

I pretty much lived outside until the age of 11 and was illiterate to all intents. My own reading career started with leafing through my mum’s old copies of Country Life and the romance stories in the back of The Lady. Armed with a thorough knowledge of the upper-end housing market and flawed, yet terribly attractive men, I moved on to fiction and have never looked back. Danny the Champion of the World spoke to me on virtually every level.

Janet Thomas

Editor

Janet is a freelance editor and member of the Honno Management Committee. After studying English at UCL, she worked in children’s books in London for several years, before going freelance when she moved home to Wales. She loves the chance to work with writers and illustrators.

Favourite children’s books:

So many. I wanted to be Madeline by Ludwig Bemelman, I remember making up stories about all the characters at the edges of the pictures in Richard Scarry’s What do People do All Day? and I loved Jill Tomlinson’s The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark. A bit older, I read and reread Watership Down and The Secret Garden and any Roald Dahl or adventure story I could get my hands on. But, then and now, I love almost everything. I think my favourite book is really whatever I’m going to read next.

Rebecca Lloyd

Assistant Editor

Originally from Bridgend, Rebecca read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, before moving to London to work in publishing. She edited adult non-fiction and literary fiction for HarperCollins for several years, before moving back to Wales to bring up her three daughters. After running a small bookshop, she went back into publishing with Accent Press, setting up their young adult list, and is now Publisher at The Dome Press. She loves children’s and young adult books and is thrilled to be part of the Firefly team.

Favourite children’s books:

I lived in books – they seemed more real than reality. Sometimes they still do. Special favourites growing up were The Silver Sword, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Tom’s Midnight Garden and all the Anne books. As a teenager, I loved Rumer Godden’s The Greengage Summer and everything by Daphne du Maurier. With my children, I’ve discovered books like Roald Dahl’s The Minpins, Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum series. I’m also a big Harry Potter fan.

Leonie Lock 

Assistant Editor 

Born and raised in Wiltshire, Leonie grew up in the shadow of the Salisbury Cathedral. For a long time she aspired to become a pirate princess and take over the world but, when that fell through, decided that a career in books would be more fun. She has been a bookseller specialising in children’s books for the last eight years and has a passion for children’s and YA novels. Alongside working for Firefly, she is finishing her degree in English and Drama at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Favourite children’s books:

As a child, I would read anything and everything from The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker to Terry Pratchett. I loved rereading Heidi, Enid Blyton’s The Five Find-Outers Mysteries and The Family Series, anything by Jacqueline Wilson, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen and the Jiggy McCue stories. As my reading progressed, I became obsessed with the Escape from Furnace series, Darren Shan, Ally’s World by Karen McCombie, and Louise Rennison. I also read my fair share of vampire fiction, devouring the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz and Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires. If I could see a book, I HAD to read it!

Although I am disguised as a grown up, I still love children’s books! My more recent favourites include The Legend of Podkin One-Ear, The Land of Roar, The One and Only Ivan and The Girl of Ink and Stars.

Megan Farr

Marketing and Publicity Manager

Passionate about promoting children’s books and reading for pleasure, Megan has many years experience in a variety of PR, marketing and project manager roles both in publishing and for literature charities. She has previously worked for Graffeg, New Welsh Review, Literature Wales, BookTrust, Bonnier, Macmillan Children’s Books, Little Tiger Press and Barefoot Books and is currently researching for a PhD in children’s publishing with UWTSD, sponsored by the Books Council of Wales. She lives in Penarth with her family, two goldfish and a very sweet cat called Pepsi.

Favourite children’s books:

I grew up on a diet of children’s book classics given to me by my mum and whatever I found in the library and I have continued reading children’s books for most of my adult life both for work and to my own children. As a kid I used to obsessively read the Swallows and Amazons and Little House on the Prairie books over and over again, reenacting Nancy and Laura’s adventures at every opportunity. I also loved the Moonintroll books, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Lord of Rings, Treasure Island, the Narnia series, Willard Price’s Adventure series, The Borrowers, the magic of the Carbonel books, everything by Roald Dahl and E Nesbit. I then moved on to the romance of the Anne of Green Gables series (Gilbert Blythe was my first book character crush) and the passion and drama of classics such as Oliver Twist and Wuthering Heights and the horror that Anne Frank’s Diary exposed. Some of the best books I have read in the past 20 years have been children’s books, including Junk, Holes, Framed, The Graveyard Book, the Harry Potter series and anything written by Meg Rosoff, Patrick Ness and Eva Ibbotson … I could go on and on!

Becka Moor

Becka Moor

Designer 

Becka has been illustrating children’s books since 2012 and has over 60 books published. She has a real passion for design, and reading as many books as she can get her greedy hands on. She lived in Wales for a time studying Illustration for Children’s Publishing at Glyndwr University, before returning to Manchester where she currently lives with her partner and two cats.  

Favourite children’s books:

 I was a BIG fan of The Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin and anything by Jacqueline Wilson. Some standout favourites were Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem (I loved the idea of little field mice living in tree trunks and creating magical stories of their own), Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and of course, the Harry Potter series. 

Amy Low

Sales and Marketing 

Amy grew up in the South Wales valleys before moving to Hereford to study Illustration in 2014. After graduating, she went on to spend three and half years working as a bookseller at independent bookshop Book-ish in Crickhowell, meeting many inspiring book-y people and falling completely in love with the book industry. She is now thrilled to be using her creative background and experiences to work in publishing. Alongside working for Firefly, Amy is finishing an MA in Children’s Publishing at Bath Spa University.

Favourite children’s books:

When I was younger, my mam started working in the local library and my obsession with books began – I would take my library book and a pocket dictionary to bed and become completely engrossed in new worlds and experiences. A few memorable favourites include Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider, Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle series and James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. 

Karen Bultiauw

Sales and Marketing

Originally from a coastal town in Belgium, Karen moved to Wales to study musical theatre at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Deciding she’d rather help get stories in people’s hands than saying other people’s lines she worked as a book shop and events manager before joining Accent Press. After working as a freelance book publicist and in marketing for a fine jeweller, she is now delighted to return to publishing.

Favourite children’s books:

Having ready pretty much the entire children’s section at my local library it’s difficult to pick one book only. However, the first book I received as a present (which is still surviving on a shelf somewhere at my mum’s house) is The Journey of the Shadow Bairns by Margaret Anderson and I have re-read it countless times. More recent favourites include the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens, A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson and Sabriel by Garth Nix.
I do have a rather massive soft spot for YA and among my favourites are Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton and Descendant of the Crane by Joan He.

 

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