Q&A with Kim from Maverick Books, Editor of Trailblazer

Maverick Books

Regular readers of this blog will know that we are big fans of Maverick Books. Maverick Books are an independent publisher of children’s books that includes picture books, chapter books and early readers, fiction and non-fiction.

During lockdown reading has never been more important, whether to pass the time whilst staying at home or to help with children’s education. At What’s Good To Read we have taken the opportunity to ask Kim from Maverick, the editor of the new non-fiction picture book Trailblazer, some questions to find out a bit more about the publishing of their latest release.

“Trailblazer”, written by Elizabeth Dale with illustrations by Carolina Coroa.

“A truly inspiring story. What an incredible talent Lily was!” – Steve Wilson, Match of the Day

Lily is one of the most talented footballers of her time but, when football is banned for women, she has to battle prejudice to play the sport she loves.

Based on the incredible true story behind English football player, Lily Parr and her trailblazing success.


Although lockdown has changed the way we work now, what does a typical day in the life of an editor look like?

The day definitely starts with a cup of tea! I am tea-obsessed (English Breakfast), so this is essential to get my day started. Lockdown life has definitely been different, but my normal day is always extremely varied – even more so in recent months! We are a small (but mighty) team and therefore our roles are all very mixed. One minute I could be working on the layout of a picture book and the next I could be doing the repro on print files. On a day that I am doing more editorial-based work then I could be doing proofreading, putting books into layouts, working with authors on texts, commissioning illustrators or writing up illustration briefs. We do most things inhouse so I also dabble in design, doing the more fun jobs like creating covers and endpapers (though I do less of this now). I am lucky to have a fantastic team and we work very collaboratively – at the moment this involves lots of Slack messages and Zoom calls!

Maverick have produced a wide range of books, how does working on a non-fiction picture book differ?

Narrative non-fiction books are definitely harder. Not only do they have to be historically accurate but they also have to still be a great story. I suppose one of the biggest differences is the research – you have to research all about the subject so that you can make comments to the author and also write an illustration brief so that the illustrations are accurate. Trailblazer was a particularly interesting subject to research into. I am not a football fan, but I felt so much admiration for the women footballers and I found all of the stories fascinating.

Also you have to know about the subject so that you can double, triple and quadruple check that everything is correct. I am always more nervous pressing the ‘Print’ button on a narrative non-fiction, however there is also something very rewarding about publishing something that is so interesting.

What was your favourite part of working on ‘Trailblazer’?

The research! I’ve always loved history and everything I read about Lily and the Dick, Kerr Ladies just made me want to find out more. They really were incredible individuals and I found myself researching into all the members of the team (possibly I enjoyed this too much!) – I think there could be a book written about any of them.

It was amazing working with Liz and Carolina. I’ve worked with Liz on early readers but this was the first picture book we’ve worked together on – though there is a second one hot on Trailblazer’s heels (fiction)!

How did you discover the right ‘feel’ for this book. Did you already have a vision in mind?

I knew that I wanted to have a vintage feel to the story, but without it being old-fashioned. It is tricky with the narrative non-fiction as you don’t want the illustrations to be drab, but also you want them to paint a picture of life during that time. I think Carolina achieved this brilliantly!

I had a vision for the cover and my colleague, Aimee, obviously had a similar vision, as the cover (which she worked on) is exactly as I envisioned – I love it!

The journey from manuscript to physical book is not always straightforward. What was the most challenging part of bringing the story of Lily Parr and the Dick Kerr ladies to life?

As previously mentioned, it was making sure that everything was historically accurate. It was also working with Liz to decide which parts of Lily’s life to include and to make sure it still read like a story. Also, not knowing a lot about football, it was a bit tricky sometimes making sure that both the word and images relating to football were correct!

How long does it take from book idea to physical publication of a picture book?

It varies a lot, but in this case about a year – perhaps just over?

Finally, we really enjoyed The Spacesuit and Mister T.V., are there any more narrative non-fiction picture books in the pipeline?

We have two more titles coming out in Autumn – A Super Sticky Mistake, about the inventor of super glue and Why? a slightly wackier version of a non-fiction, which explains the science behind rainbows in rhyme! Two brilliant books, which I can’t wait to see on the shelves!

Trailblazer by Elizabeth Dale and by Carolina Coroa is published by Maverick Books and is available to buy from Amazon here.

What’s Good To Read have loved reading Trailblazer, you can read our review here.