Who Are We?

We are four friends who met nearly a decade ago when we worked together at Working Partners, the industry leader in the creation of original series fiction.

Karen Ball button

Karen Ball has over 25 years’ experience of the publishing industry and expertise in Intellectual Property. Her career includes periods as Head of Editorial at Working Partners and Publisher at Little, Brown Books For Young Readers. She has commissioned some of the bestselling series of the past 15 years – from Beast Quest to Frankie’s Magic Football.

In September 2016 she launched Speckled Pen, a creative consultancy to the publishing industry. She works with publishers, licence owners, authors and agents.

Karen has authored over 20 books, writes one of the UK’s leading sewing blogs at Did You Make That and has contributed to The Guardian. She lives in Walthamstow with her miniature schnauzer, Ella.



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Sara Grant writes and edits fiction for children and teens and is also a tutor for children’s fiction at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her next teen novel – Half Lives – is a story told in two voices from a pre- and post-apocalyptic time. She also writes a funny magical series for young readers, titled Magic Trix. Sara is currently developing a new action-adventure series for tweens with Scholastic. As a freelance editor of series fiction, she has worked on twelve different series and edited nearly 100 books. She has given writing workshops in the US, UK and Europe and teaches a master’s class on writing young fiction at the University of Winchester. She co-foundedUndiscovered Voices – which has launched the writing careers of twenty-six authors, who now have written more than 120 children’s books. (www.undiscoveredvoices.com) Sara was born and raised in Washington, Indiana. She graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She lives in London.



Sara O'ConnorSara O’Connor is an American settled in England and was recently the Digital and Editorial Director at Hot Key Books, the innovative publisher for young adults. Before that, she was Senior Editorial Manager at Hodder Children’s Books, running the Enid Blyton program there. In her thirteen years in children’s publishing, she has acquired books about shrinking sheep, prison breaks, reluctant witches, invisible teenagers, six-year-olds that draw for charity and rubbish heaps. She has also produced pioneering digital projects like the iBookAuthor edition of the Carnegie and Costa Book Award-winning MAGGOT MOON and interactive writing experience www.thestoryadventure.com. Along with creating the Working Partners series concept MY SISTER THE VAMPIRE, she has written four books in the series, as well as developing other young fiction series with the company.

With Sara Grant, she is the co-creator of the wildly successful SCBWI-BI Undiscovered Voices project, helping over twenty unpublished writers win publishing contracts over the five years she co-edited the anthology. She has been nicknamed Sara “Slasher” O’Connor (complete with Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster) by previous writing students who also say, “Every time I come across her Wise Words it feels like a personal pep talk!”

Jasmine Richards Head ShotJasmine Richards was born in London, grew up in a library, and was the first in her family to go to university. After graduating from Oxford with a degree in English Literature and Language, Jasmine began her career in publishing at Penguin, working on the lists at both Puffin and Hamish Hamilton. Today she’s the Senior Commissioning Editor for children’s fiction at Oxford University Press.

When Jasmine is not editing or acquiring fiction, she’s writing books for children. Her debut novel, THE BOOK OF WONDERS, is a fantastical, action-packed response to the mythology of THE ARABIAN NIGHTS – but this time the sultan doesn’t get away with murder. Her new novel SECRETS OF VALHALLA is PERCY JACKSON  meets GROUNDHOG DAY and will be published by Harper Collins Inc in Jan 2016.

Writing under the pen name JD Sharpe, Jasmine has also written a dark thriller called OLIVER TWISTED, which is published by Egmont. Jasmine took OLIVER TWISTED on the road and appeared at Hay, Edinburgh, Oxford and Bath literary festivals.