Quick Questions: An Interview with Executive Editor Lisa Yoskowitz


Lisa YoskowitzLisa Yoskowitz is an Executive Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where she edits middle grade and YA fiction from authors including Pseudonymous Bosch and Melissa Marr. She recently joined LBYR from Dutton Children’s Books and Disney-Hyperion, where she had the pleasure of working with New York Times bestselling authors Cinda Williams Chima, Victoria Laurie, and Elizabeth Wein; along with many fantastic debut authors, including Tamara Ireland Stone (Time Between Us), Michael Fry (The Odd Squad: Bully Bait), Tess Sharpe (Far From You), and Ami Polonsky (Gracefully Grayson). Drawn to voice- and character-driven stories, she has a soft spot for misfit, maverick, and mischief-making characters, and for books that can comfortably be called both literary and commercial. She is not able to consider unagented/unsolicited submissions.

And now to our questions!

What book has come out in the past year that you wish you’d been the editor on? Why?

I don’t know if it’s fair to say I wish I’d been the editor of El Deafo by Cece Bell (because surely the process of Cece and her editor working together contributed to the stellar finished product!), but it is definitely one of my favorite reads of the past year and a book I deeply admire for its originality, emotional honesty, brilliant storytelling, pitch-perfect voice, and powerful narrative.

What’s something you’d like to tell aspiring authors, that perhaps they haven’t yet heard from anyone?

I’m afraid that my advice for authors who hope to have their work published might not be original, but I do think it holds true: (a) write to your passions and be true to your characters and story—chasing trends or forcing yourself to write in a particular way because you think it will get you published often results in inorganic, unappealing storytelling; (b) when you finish your manuscript, put it in a drawer—metaphorical or literal—for a few days or weeks and read it with fresh eyes. Revise and repeat until you have the manuscript you love and feel is ready to submit to agents; (c) approach every critique, editor/agent meeting at conferences, and even rejection as a learning experience. Be open minded and truly listen to and synthesize feedback and writing/publishing advice from those in the field and/or whose opinions you respect.

If you could travel back in time for one day, where would you go, what would you do, who would you hang out with?

I’d visit Krakatoa right before it erupted in 1883, to spend a day with Professor William Waterman Sherman, his diamond-discovering friends, and their houses of wonders. Wait, The Twenty-One Balloons was nonfiction, right? :-)

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

I’d like to think that I’d give a bunch to charity, buy a modest place in the City, save whatever is left, and stay in publishing (I do love my job a lot!), but I wouldn’t mind finding out for sure…

What’s currently on your manuscript wish list? What’s definitely not on the list?

I’m open to any manuscript with a voice and characters that grab you and don’t let go. That said, I’m not looking to acquire new picture books at the moment, and am especially on the lookout for a pitch-perfect middle grade puzzle book in the spirit of The Westing Game and epic middle grade fantasy that feels fresh.

 Thanks for participating, Lisa!

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Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2015

GROUNDHOG DAYHappy Groundhog’s Day! I’m afraid Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow this morning and here in the Northern Hemisphere we’re in for another six weeks of winter, folks. (By the way, how weird is Groundhog’s Day, anyway?)

Anyway, more snow and cold. More fires in the fireplace. More scotch and bourbon and hot chocolate and hot toddies. More skiing and snowboarding and shoveling. More gloves and hats and scarves and cold, runny noses. And more reading! Reading, reading, reading! The real reason I want winter to be over is to see the publication of some books that I’m anticipating coming out.

At the top of my list, of course, are my client’s books! First, there’s THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH the next book by Bill Konigsberg (coming in May from AAL Books/Scholastic). It’s just gotten it’s first publishing industry acknowledgment, a starred review from Booklist. And, Andrew Smith, award-winning author of GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, said “Bill Konigsberg’s THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking, a funny and thought-provoking road trip with remarkable friends Carson and Aisha, who share tough lessons about mending fractures, forging bonds, and discovering grace. Undeniably human and unforgettably wise, this book is a gift for us all.”

Then, I can’t wait to be able to go into a bookstore and see THE FIX in the YA section. THE FIX is a moving, intense debut by Natasha Sinel (coming in September from Sky Pony Press). Carrie Mesrobian, award-winning author of SEX AND VIOLENCE and PERFECTLY GOOD WHITE BOY, said THE FIX is, “A bewitching, beautiful, and brave debut. Readers will marvel at Macy’s resilience. Natasha Sinel’s writing devastates and uplifts, by turns. An important story of one girl’s journey to rewrite the blueprint of her own life by facing the truth inside herself.”

Come late summer, PEANUT BUTTER AND BRAINS: A ZOMBIE CULINARY TALE, will be the debut picture book of the very talented Joe McGee (in August from Abrams). It’s illustrated by the gifted Charles Santoso. Librarians, book stores, and elementary school teachers interested in school visits in the fall, around Halloween (it’s zombies, after all!), should definitely get in touch with Joe soon. The book is fun and funny and Joe is quite entertaining himself.

And then, of course, I have a very long list of books I’m looking forward to reading this year, by people who aren’t my clients.

What are you looking forward to reading?




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New Look for The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency!

I am very pleased and proud to direct you all to my agency’s new website jdlit.com! We’ve got a new online look but (of course!) we’re still pretty in pink. Please note that not all of my clients are listed on the website since the agency has over 200 clients. To see who I represent, go to my Client page over here or click on the links to their individual websites and blogs in the sidebar.


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