Penguin Young Readers Group has announced the formation of Kathy Dawson Books, an imprint that will focus on “emotionally driven” middle grade and young adult fiction across a variety of genres. Dawson began her career at Putnam more than two decades ago, and after 17 years with the company spent several years at Harcourt before returning to Penguin in 2009. She was most recently v-p and editorial director for fiction at Dial Books for Young Readers. Her eponymous imprint will launch in winter 2014.

“It’s a dream come true,” says Dawson of starting her own imprint. “In my heart I have dreamed about this since I first started to work at Penguin, which I think is the best, most nurturing place to be as an editor or an author. I have always gotten great support here, and am very excited to launch this imprint.”

Dawson emphasizes that offerings from Kathy Dawson Books will span – and even bend – genres. “I tend to do genre books for non-genre readers,” she says. “For example, a lot of people call Kristin Cashore’s Graceling fantasy, but many fans of that novel are not traditional readers of fantasy. At Harcourt, I published Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, which is an apocalyptic dystopian but has appeal to anyone.”

The editor will continue to work with many of her established authors and looks forward to adding new names to her list. “Part of why this is so exciting is that I will be able to focus more on acquiring novels and looking for new voices,” she says. “I’m also pleased about publishing some completely new things from some of the authors I’ve worked with before. Kristin Cashore is writing a contemporary novel, which is a big deal, since she’s always written in the fantasy realm. And Julie Bowe, who wrote the wonderful Friends for Keeps series, is starting a new and different series. I tend to go for variety and I always want to be working on books that haven’t been done before. I’d rather be ahead of the trend than follow it.”

Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, also eagerly anticipates the launch of Kathy Dawson Books. “Since Kathy returned to Penguin, this has been in the back of my mind, and I am thrilled to see it come to fruition,” he says. “I look forward to reading the many wonderful books that Kathy will acquire and edit.”