Our Meet the Boydell Team series continues with an interview with the Head of Pre-Press Rohais Landon, who is based in our UK office.
What led you to your current role at Boydell & Brewer?
I joined the company as a temp for 3 months back in 2008, working as an Assistant Editor. 12 years and 3 months later I’m still here, having worked in various roles in Editorial, Production and Pre-Press.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in Pre-Press?
Be prepared for anything! You could be checking the quality of 281 illustrations for a book about church window tracery, preparing files for a music title discussing flageolets, liaising with Marketing over the cover for a publication on bears, contacting an author with queries regarding a book on Latin American literature or ensuring a press-ready file for a 4-volume set on The Sea in History is perfect before handing over to Production to go to press.
What’s the absolute best part of your job?
I’m not sure there is a ‘best part’, as what makes the job particularly enjoyable is that it is so varied. Every book is different and provides its own challenges and rewards. We have a fantastic team in Pre-Press – we all work very hard and help each other but we have a lot of fun too.
What’s the best day you’ve ever had at work?
Possibly when I finally got to hand over to Production a two-volume book of around 1,500 pages that will remain nameless but seemed to take up most of my life for 3 months!
Briefly outline a normal working day for you.
The morning will always begin with reading and responding to emails, which tend to pile in overnight and then continue to plop into the inbox throughout the day. After that there will invariably be meetings with colleagues, along with a mixture of discussions with the team, offering of advice, checking corrections, allocating work, considering strategy and processes, analysing spreadsheets, liaising with freelancers, talking to authors, more emails, more meetings…
What’s the view from your desk?
I’m currently working from home so, other than the lovely sight of my partner at the opposite end of the dining-room table, I can see on the window sill a statue of Saint Theodore, which was given to my father (Theodore) by his godmother when he was a child (I used to get book tokens from mine), and a wooden bird brought back from Ethiopia in February, and beyond that into the garden, where sparrows are constantly on the feeder and the runner beans are beginning to climb up the bamboo poles.
What’s the best thing on your desk?
My unique Colchester United mouse mat, which has all my favourite players from over the years (and yes, that is Teddy Sheringham).
What are you currently reading?
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. She is a great author, and the description of grief in this book is incredibly moving.
What’s your beverage of choice?
At work, one strong (stand the teaspoon up in it) coffee in the morning and then lots of water; at home, wine.
What’s one Boydell book that you’ve worked on?
Sport, History, and Heritage: Studies in Public Representation – a title in our Heritage Matters series that we publish in association with the International Centre for Cultural & Heritage Studies at Newcastle University. It’s a fascinating collection of essays on the culture and history of sport in the UK, with many different areas covered but, happily for me, plenty on the subject of football.
If you could choose a book for us to publish on ANY subject, what would it be?
I’m a huge fan of Bob Dylan, so that would do it for me.
What’s your favourite historical novel, film or play?
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – it has everything: intrigue, heresy, philosophy, murder, theology, monks, literature… and lots and lots of Latin. Perfect.
You can choose up to four people from history to join your dinner party: who are they?
The first person I’d choose is J. G. Farrell, who wrote one of my favourite books ever: The Siege of Krishnapur. He died tragically young, drowning at the age of just 44. I’d be intrigued to know what he would have written next. Then there would also be Ovid, whom I studied for my MA. If he got a bit heavy-going and maudlin, I would stick him in the corner with my dissertation. To lighten the mood, I would invite Dorothy Parker so that we could all enjoy her acerbic wit. Of course, a dinner party is no good without some cracking wine, so I’m going to invite Ferruccio Biondi-Santi (I had to look him up) who was largely responsible for the creation of one of the best wines in the world: Brunello di Montalcino. Of course he wouldn’t be allowed in without a case of the stuff.