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!

Simone Greenwood

Sales and Marketing Officer | Administrator

Simone has been a keen reader since the days of the library bus visiting her primary school in rural Cumbria, and would write out poems and sections of novels she loved, tracing the illustrations in to numerous notebooks. 

After a career as a primary school teacher, Simone dabbled in the world of micro-publishing with her company Burst – and continues to support schools and community groups to create and publish stories through workshops and projects. She’s also been involved in delivering Arts Council Wales’ Creative Learning Through the Arts, which is preparing schools for the Expressive Arts strand of the new curriculum for Wales. Simone lives in the Sirhowy Valley with her family and black pug Maggie.

Favourite children’s books:

I devoured any book I could get my hands on, and was particularly drawn to fairy tales and magical stories. My childhood was not always idyllic, and I think these books helped me escape to other worlds. I also loved books with beautiful and intricate illustrations, such as the Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem, and the Flower Fairies books by Cicely Mary Barker. As an older child, I loved the Anne of Green Gable series, Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World, and The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley. My favourite books to read to my children were Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum series as we all laughed so much. 

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