Quick Questions: An Interview with Editor Connie Hsu

NG4XkKd7This month’s Quick Questions interview is with Connie Hsu, a senior editor at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan USA. Connie acquires and edits everything from picture books to YA and nonfiction.  She loves books that give readers a visceral reaction, be it goosebumps, butterflies, or a surprised laugh. Prior to joining Roaring Brook, she was at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where she worked with award-winning, bestselling authors and illustrators such as Tom Lichtenheld , Dan Santat, Shannon Hale, Pseudonymous Bosch, Eric Litwin, Nina Laden, Renata Liwksa, Salina Yoon, and Diana López.

And now, the questions!

  1. What book have you read in the past year (that you didn’t edit yourself) that you want everyone to read? Why?

This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki is a powerful read, but then you finish and you realize nothing really happens. And yet you’re riveted throughout, because this graphic novel just nails that pivotal turning point in a middle schooler’s life, from the growing humiliation you feel as you emerge from silly kid to awkward teen to the helplessness and empty sadness that you just can’t shake when you realize that your perfect family is far from it, and that everyone, including your own parents, has inner demons. It’s beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated, from the co-creators of the YA graphic novel Skim.

  1. What bit of editorial/writing advice would you like to give to writers?

Whatever you write, whether cute picture book or densely literary YA, read it out loud to yourself. This is one easy way to recognize that elusive “voice.” And if something is or isn’t working, you’ll hear it.

  1. If you could have a cocktail or a cup of tea with one person from history, what would you drink, who would it be, and why do you want to hang out with them?

I’d like to share a gin martini with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. We’ll get flushed, chat about intellectual and witty things, and then end the evening by screaming, “You don’t know what love is” while glasses smash against the wall.  In all honesty, that sounds pretty sad to me, but it does evoke a nostalgia for the classic writer mystique (if you ignore the cirrhosis), the days of yore when writers were adventurers and characters, folks who lived large in real life, and not just on social media. This could also work with a Negroni with Hemingway or bourbon with Hunter S. Thompson.

  1. If you won 50 million dollars, what would you do? Would you still work in publishing?

I’d buy an apartment in New York and continue to work in publishing, because all my money would be gone.

  1. If you could wave a magic wand and have any kind of manuscript land on your desk what would it be about?

Lovely Bones meets Virgin Suicides. Lush, lyrical, and lasting.

You can find Connie on Twitter @MissConnieH.

Thanks for playing on The Blabbermouth Blog, Connie!

 

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How to Be Thankful, in 5 Easy Steps

Step 1: Before trying to give thanks, forgive <fill in the blank> for whatever they’ve done/not done and/or whatever you think they’ve done/not done. It actually doesn’t make a difference which one it is. Just forgive them. That doesn’t mean whatever they’ve done/not done was ok. But not forgiving them is toxic. 

Step 2: Go outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining/snowing/sunny/whatever. Go outside and look up at the sky and for just one moment, truly get how insignificant each and every one of us are. We’re like little bugs crawling all over this planet. Keep it all in perspective. I mean ALL of it.

Step 3: Look in the mirror. Really look. See that person staring back at you? You’re stuck with them for the rest of your life. Smile at the person in the mirror. Be nice to them. Now remember how you are the author of your own life. You get to decide how it all turns out. Even if you’re just a bug on the planet.

Step 4: Take an 8 oz glass and put 4 oz of water in it. Look at the glass. It is half full. Remember that it is half full. Drink the water. It’s much easier to be thankful when you’re hydrated.

Step 5: Be thankful. Just do it. Be thankful. It’s not really difficult. It’s a choice. Like forgiving. Like consciously being humble or remembering to love yourself or staying hydrated and optimistic. Be thankful.

Personally, I’m thankful for my family, friends, clients, and colleagues; so grateful that I have such amazing people in my life. Now, tell me something that you’re thankful for.

Sending happy Thanksgiving thoughts your way, my lovelies!

Peace out. heart-3

Linda 

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Quick Questions: An Interview with Editor Liesa Abrams

Liesa head shotThis month’s Quick Questions guest is Liesa Abrams. Liesa is VP, Editorial Director, Simon Pulse/Associate Editorial Director, Aladdin, which are imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Books.  At S&S, Liesa edits a variety of teen and middle grade projects including Rachel Renee Russell’s #1 bestselling DORK DIARIES series, Brandon Mull’s #1 bestselling BEYONDERS series, and Lisa McMann’s bestselling UNWANTEDS series. In addition, she edits bestselling authors Suzanne Young, James Riley, Christopher Pike, and many others. Liesa started in children’s publishing in 1997 at the company now known as Alloy Entertainment, editing classic YA series like SWEET VALLEY HIGH. She left Alloy in 2003 to become a founding editor of Penguin’s Razorbill imprint, where she edited YA titles including R.A. Nelson’s TEACH ME and Maureen Johnson’s DEVILISH.

And here are the questions…

1. What book have you read in the past year (that you didn’t edit yourself) that you want everyone to read? Why?

I rarely have time to read for pleasure since I read such a tremendous amount for work. I do fit in graphic novels occasionally, and I would recommend reading anything by Ed Brubaker (especially his CRIMINAL series) to learn a lot about great pacing and how to craft truly surprising (yet earned) twists. I’d also recommend Brian K. Vaughan for dialogue and character development—Y: THE LAST MAN is an older (great) series of his but his newest is SAGA.

2. What bit of editorial/writing advice would you like to give to writers?

“Make sure your characters step on the traps!” I’m currently playing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign with my husband and some friends (including a managing editor and designer from Simon Pulse)! Last time we played, we reached a room in the dungeon where our dungeon master intimated there was a trap on the floor. We spent an hour having our characters strategize ways around the trap—spells, acrobatics, etc. Finally, my husband got frustrated and bored and announced that his character was stepping on the trap! He wanted to shake up the story, see what a bold, crazy move would do for the action.

It’s exactly what good storytelling requires. Characters must make mistakes, must make choices that lead to consequences that will yield conflict and drama and interesting plot. If they never do anything wrong and the action happens to them rather than because of them, why should readers care?

3. If you could have a cocktail or a cup of tea with one person from history, what would you drink, who would it be, and why do you want to hang out with them?

The beverage would be coffee (dark roast, served black) because I pretty much only drink water, coffee, and the very rare root beer or lemonade.

I’m terrible at history so I’m probably forgetting all the people I should want to meet, but maybe I’d go with Bob Kane and Bill Finger, so I could tell them what Batman meant to me in my life?

4. If you won 50 million dollars, what would you do? Would you still work in publishing?

I would absolutely still work in publishing—editing is as much avocation for me as vocation. But I’d be an editor-at-large and offer my boss a deal where I work for no salary in exchange for living in Portland, OR, or San Francisco, CA. I’d leave the tri-state area in a second if I didn’t need to be here for my job.

Also, I’d use the money to supplement advances for my authors writing books that are passion projects (for them and for me), so that they could afford to write and promote full-time.

5. If you could wave a magic wand and have any kind of manuscript land on your desk what would it be about?

I’m hungry for a character-driven soap opera series with huge epic stakes and characters holding juicy secrets. I also hate to get specific with this question because falling in love with a book isn’t predictable or quantifiable. It’s magic every time it happens and there’s just no formula for that kind of magic.

You can follow Liesa on Twitter @batgirleditor to hear all you need to know about Batman, comics, and gluten-free treats.

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