Meet the UQP team: Madonna Duffy, Publishing Director
How long have you been in your role?
18 years at UQP. Since 2005 in this role as Publishing Director.
What drew you to publishing?
Being a life-long reader, loving the beauty and transformative nature of words, and wanting to feel passionate about my work.
How did you get into publishing?
In the wake of Penguin publishing Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and the subsequent fatwa issued on Rushdie, I got a job as an editorial assistant in Penguin’s London office in 1990. There were bomb scares and airport security on a daily basis; I just thought publishing was very dramatic and exciting. Little did I realise that this was an exceptional time.
What does an average day look like for you?
Meetings (authors, colleagues, industry), hundreds of emails, writing blurbs and sales copy, more meetings, more emails, and, finally, reading manuscripts before I fall into bed at night.
What’s the best part about your job?
That moment when I’m reading manuscript submissions and find a manuscript that captivates me and that I know will become a book that will change minds, shape lives and win hearts.
And the worst?
Offering for a manuscript that I have loved in an auction situation and then missing out on it. But then I try to remind myself that it will still be a book that will find and delight readers, even if I’m not its publisher.
Most memorable day in publishing?
There have been so many, but more recently it was finding out that Melissa Lucashenko’s novel, Too Much Lip, which I published in 2018, had won the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
What are you working on at the moment?
Larissa Behrendt’s marvellous new novel After Story (out in July), plus lots of other exciting 2021 releases. I’m also reading more than usual to acquire books for 2022 and beyond.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in publishing?
Be determined, resilient, informed and passionate. These qualities will carry you far in whatever you do.
What do you like to read for pleasure?
I try to find books written/published outside of Australia, just to put some distance between my job and my personal reading. It might be an Irish novel, or a Japanese novel in translation, or a new Canadian author. Mostly fiction, though.