5 Minutes with Natalie Shaw

5 Minutes with Natalie Shaw

Natalie is a campaigns executive for Granta Books and Portobello Books.


What was the last book you read?

I have just finished Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Faber & Faber) which I really enjoyed.

How did you buy it?

I was browsing in the Waterstones Tottenham Court Road for a book that would make me laugh and cry. I found one.

And what did you read it on?

I read it in paperback, and like almost all of my favourite books, it has pages turned down where I like a turn of phrase or want to read more about something, which I gather is really annoying when I loan the books out.

What’s next on your reading list?

I made a pact with myself at the beginning of the year to read everything on my bookshelf, without buying more books. I broke it immediately by buying the Kundera title, but I want to plough ahead anyway and read Audre Lorde’s Your Silence Will Not Protect You which pulls together her essays, poetry and speeches for the first time in the UK by the magnificent Silver Press.

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

Revealing my love for all things Classics very early on, it would likely have to be Sappho or Lucan, because who wouldn’t want to meet and discuss with one of the West’s earliest women poets her legacy and her huge influence across literature and society? Lucan because over three years of my degree I came back to Pharsalia again and again. It’s moving, introduces gothic elements into the canon and is mind-bendingly good.

What TV series are you obsessing over right now?

The Bold Type (Prime) which follows three young women starting out careers in the media. It’s funny and the last episode had me standing and applauding.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What three books would you want with you?

God what a nightmare. Probably, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Istanbul by Bettany Hughes and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, because it’s about time I got around to it.

What is the one thing about your company that we need to know?

Our translated fiction is exquisite and award-winning and we publish a fierce collection of boss women.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?

You’re killing it, don’t worry. Don’t doubt your abilities, and keep thinking big.

How does social media aid the publishing industry?

Social media offers those who are outside of an establishment to join the conversation and make that conversation relevant to the wider world. Social media allows people to find one another and discuss books, authors and writing forms that may have been forgotten or lost or fallen out of favour as well being able to join together to demand better representation in those books. Social media is a huge benefit to the publishing world and I think, as in other areas of media, will only continue to grow and be of greater importance to the industry.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure

I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about any of my music choices but then I am also never asked to do the playlists for parties… Whitney Houstons’ How Will I Know is one of the greatest songs on this planet no question.

And your one from the world of fiction?

Give me anything touching on gender, class and women’s relationships. Jane Eyre isn’t a guilty pleasure because it’s excellent.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

This is my favourite game, currently it’s probably Excel and Me: A Relationship through the Ages

Which great novel have you tried to read but failed?

Anything by Dickens (sorry!) but I really love his contemporary Wilkie Collins, whose Woman in White was recommended to me one Halloween when I was around 14 and I’ve loved it ever since.

What was your first job?

As a waitress/ bartender in a bar in Camden during my first year of uni. It was fairly obvious my calling would have to be in a desk job.

What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?

I have a terrifying desk guardian in the form of the doll similar to the ones on the cover of Such Small Hands.

Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.

I love plants. Like really love plants. Probably because I read and watched The Secret Garden too much as a child.

Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?

It’s lame if I say my mum right? The women throughout my life from my family to teachers, friends, colleagues are all boss women.


Natalie Shaw is a winner of The London Book Fair Trailblazer Award 2018

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