More About the Author
Hello. I'm Heather Reyes - writer, editor, publisher,' Londoner'.
I'm co-founder of Oxygen Books and have edited all nine of the volumes in our city-pick series of travel anthologies.
Before setting up Oxygen Books in 2008, I had published a range of things - children's stories, poetry, short stories, articles, and a novel (Zade, Saqi Books 2004). Now that Oxygen Books is ticking over, I'm getting back to some of my own writing again.
I hope this profile gives you the information you need - I guess it depends on why you've looked me up!
ABOUT ME ...
Born on the outskirts of London, I've always lived, studied and worked either within or less than half an hour from the capital. I was a non-Catholic 'scholarship girl' at the Ursuline High School, Brentwood, then graduated from Queen Mary College, University of London, in English. I went on to King's College for a post-graduate teaching year, but didn't take up a teaching post until much later. I worked as a freelance writer for a while - stories, articles and children's books - until starting a family. Although a card-carrying feminist, I loved - and still love - being a mother, and elected to stay home and look after my two amazing children until they started school, when I took up a teaching post at my old secondary school.
I had a number of short stories published and was working on longer things, too - 'learning the craft' - and at some point I went back to uni (part-time) and took an MA in modern literature, then a Ph.D (on the work of contemporary novelist Christine Brooke-Rose) - both at Birkbeck College, University of London (a marvellous place!).
After a number of 'near misses' with getting a full-length work published, my novel Zade (set in Paris) was accepted for publication by Saqi Books, and came out in 2004. It made a long-list of twelve books for the Prince Maurice Prize (for writing about love). I was over-awed to find that Zadie Smith (whom I really admire) was also on the long-list (though even she didn't make it to the final three!).
Soon after this I took an editing qualification, left teaching, and worked as a freelance editor for a while - though continuing to work on my own writing when I could.
It was during a trip to Athens in early 2008 that my husband, Malcolm Burgess, had the idea for our urban anthologies and we set up Oxygen Books. For some time we'd liked the idea of setting up our own small publishing house, but it needed that 'concrete idea' - about what we should publish that no-one else seemed to be doing - in order to justify such an all-consuming venture.
Nine anthologies (paris, London, Berlin, Venice, Dublin, Amsterdam, New York, St Petersburg and Istanbul) and lots of good reviews later, we feel we have achieved something worthwhile. We're now both finding a bit more time for our own writing again, while continuing our publishing venture.
In April, my first non-fiction book is coming out - An Everywhere: a little book about reading. More about that book - and my other writing - below. This will be followed, in May, by a novel, Miranda Road, set in London and Paris.
I'm currently putting together a collection of my short stories (a number of these have already been published in the UK and USA) and making a tentative start on another non-fiction book.(less)