Here at Wakefield Press, we often have work experience students learning about the amazing world of publishing. In the past, their work has been largely behind the scenes, but we’re shining the limelight on the students in our interview series. First up is Guthrow Taylor-Johnson.
A bit about Guthrow
Hi, I’m 15 years old and in year 10. As part of my requirement for my year level I chose to do three days of work experience at Wakefield Press. I enjoy reading but also enjoy playing piano, drawing, catching up with friends and watching an unhealthy amount of Youtube videos.
My experience at Wakefield was a great and memorable one and I hope that I was able to help in the few days I was there because editors are very busy people!
What is the first book you ever read?
Lost in the Snow by Holly Webb, if you are talking about a novel of decent size. I read it in year 2 as part of a class novel and was hooked from that point on.
What attracted you to doing work experience at Wakefield Press?
The idea of being around books, in a environment where messing up can be erased or backspaced. My mother (being an author) was very encouraging of having my work experience in an environment she was used to and I’ve always been interested in English as a subject, generally performing well in it. When it came down to it, publishing was a choice I was considering as a career and to make sure I understood the environment, expectations and requirements, I thought it would be in my best interests to apply for a two or three day position.
At the end of your work experience, what are your thoughts about working in publishing?
I can’t say I was hooked instantly as I spent the whole day editing. I can understand why this would appeal to people but I am a person who busies himself with other outlets, like playing piano, doing art and a bit of creative writing here and there. If I were to take up publishing as a career I would have to enjoy editing a lot more. Again, My personality is the problem, not publishing, although the stress of missing a mistake was difficult to deal with.
Do you think boys read differently from girls? If so, how? If not, why do you think so many people believe that?
I think girls definitely read differently to boys because of their upbringing and our society’s expectations of them but as a female or male it’s harder to distinguish this gap. In my opinion some people might be more attracted to romance and others to action, adventure thrillers, although I think this has to do with personality, intelligence and maturity and not with gender specifically. I believe people think that genders read differently because of movies, social media, songs and the way books advertise books. Some books are clearly advertised to women and some to males. I originally had to think whether I knew any women who read romance novels or if that was just how Hollywood advertises books.
What’s the last book you read for fun? What was fun about it?
Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollet. I picked this book up because History is another subject I’m interested in so learning about this infamous cult [Jonestown] seemed like an obvious choice. There were parts I loved, like the scenes of accusation, and parts I was critical of, but in the end it was an enjoyable book.
What’s the last book you read and hated? what did you hate about it?
The Running Man by Michael Gerard Bauer. It was a perfectly well-written book, I just despised the way the book was trying to convince me to care about silkworms. With regret I read over 100 pages about this man painfully describing the day-to-day process of caring for silkworms and the silkworms’ slow and tedious evolution until the process begins again. Even though this wasn’t the main focus of the book, so many of the characters treat this activity as an everyday must. At times I was worried that the book was secretly converting me into a member of a cult.
How do you find out about books you want to read?
Mostly through my mother, Heather Taylor Johnson. Otherwise I just pick up a book in the literary fiction aisle that grabs me the most.
Name a book or books that changed the way you think- in any way at all, large or small.
I would have to say Jack London’s White Fang, Steven Chlobsky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Simon Butters’ The Hounded. These three books in particular changed the way I saw myself, my identity and my purpose. They connected with me in a way that changed my reading style: from fiction about magic space or dystopian rebellions, to novels about confronting real problems that exist in our modern world and inside our self.
Based on what you see around you, do you think teenagers read more or less than they used to?
Sadly, I must give the predictable answer of yes, less. There are just more ways to distract yourself, more virtual games, more ways to connect, more easily accessible knowledge, more ways to compete and say you are the best at this one thing. I don’t think this is change for the worse and this generation is the least free of all. I believe that reading was like a game back before Google and computers, and accepting that books would be non-existent in this world if it weren’t for the older generations and the need for written communication. When that disappears, then we can claim that we are no longer free.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I couldn’t tell you if I knew. Up until two years back I would have said John Marsden or Derek Landy, however my tastes have changed since and I don’t think I’ve read two books from the same author since. I consider this an accomplishment and couldn’t pick an author from just one book, so you’ll have to accept this as an answer.
If you were banished to a desert island and could take three books with you, what would they be and why?
This question got me thinking. Would I want to take three books I haven’t read? Books I would love to learn from or strategic choices that would help with my survival? In the end I picked The Life of Pi, by Yan Martel, The Odyssey by Homer (a very large book that I’ve been intending to read but could never find the time to), and Frankenstein’s Monster by Mary Shelly, a book I could study and increase the extent of my vocabulary by three-fold. Actually, maybe I should bring a dictionary for the last choice?