whitefox’s CSO and Editorial Director Annabel Wright offers some thoughts and words on whitefox’s new office in Los Angeles
Los Angeles isn’t necessarily the first place that leaps to mind when thinking of the literary capitals of the world. London, of course – its literary reputation is why I moved there, via Tokyo, fifteen years ago. New York, naturally. For a Canadian–Kiwi hybrid like me, maybe Toronto, Sydney or Auckland.
But LA? Every preconception I had was of a city rendered almost catatonic by constant sunshine, exclusively focused on TV and film, with little time for or interest in books. It seemed impossibly distant – both geographically and culturally – from the literary bustle of the cities I was more familiar with.
And yet LA is, of course, a city of storytellers. And, after nearly a year here, I’m starting to realise that behind the juice bars, crystal healing and near-constant positive affirmations (all a bit of a shock to the system after East London), it is a city full of highly driven strivers, with a huge appetite for creative collaboration.
It’s a place where – it seems to me – it is almost impossible to slap a single label on most people or most endeavours. I’ve met surf instructors who are movie extras, hedge fund managers who also run crystal healing circles. Creative agencies regularly blur industry lines between advertising, fashion and entertainment. And everywhere there is a spirit of exploration. An invigorating, intoxicating sense of ‘why the hell not?’
In this sense, Los Angeles is the perfect place to launch whitefox in North America. We have always resisted a single label – we’re not a publisher, but we’re more than simply a service provider. We have always placed collaboration at the very heart of what we do, seeing ourselves as the nexus of a network of experts and partners without whom our endeavour would be impossible. And we’ve always tried to push ourselves in new directions, resisting the impulse to define ourselves by a certain type of project or a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to problem-solving.
It’s true that none of the Big Five are in LA. But the more time I spend here, the more I realise that the absence of these publishing goliaths can be a blessing. I still miss London and the literary life I led there – friends, launch parties, the familiar seasonal round of book fairs and selling cycles. But I am gradually coming to realise just how diverse the publishing landscape can be when given room to expand and experiment. I am meeting agents, scouts, independent publishers and fascinating hybrids who blend IP generation with service provision. It’s thrilling. And it suits whitefox down to the ground.
So I’m glad I made the move. I’m glad for the change of scene and the change of pace. I’m relieved that I can still feel as much a part of whitefox’s London operation working from Venice Beach as I did from my desk in Shoreditch. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to widen my professional gaze. And – I have to be honest – I’m pretty grateful for the sunshine too…