How many of us have had that vaguely irrational urge to try to get through platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station? Even if you don’t take a full on run up with a trolley full of things, I can imagine you may be guilty of giving it the odd surreptitious prod when no one is watching. Even though the wall may not move, the platform still evokes a sense of mystery. Oxford is another place that has been re-crafted by the words of an author. Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy has people thinking about windows to other worlds, and whether that is actually a regular squirrel or in fact someone’s daemon… More recently, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone elevated Prague from the normality of real life and gave it a fictional veneer. I know that if I went there my eyes would linger on doorways, searching for black handprints and a passageway to Elsewhere…
Being an intern at Hot Key Books brought back this rush of memories, for here there is a similar fictional gloss on everything. The grunge of a rainy London day disappears and you are presented with ceilings that stretch high above comprehension, arched doorways that could tell their own tales and an expanse of cloud-like walls. I think that this (slightly) romanticised perception of the office is due to the fact that it is a publishing house. Being charged with words, ideas and the imagination has turned this space into something out of the ordinary.
As my time at Hot Key Books is about to end, I know that I will never look at this building in the same way when I walk past. I will remember thinking that I had actually been allowed access to a different world, a world that usually only resides in the pages of a book.