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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4 responses to “Quick Questions: An Interview with Editor Connie Hsu

  1. Simeon Mann

    Reading your work out loud is something I’ve read before, but it’s always worth hearing again. As I review what I hope is the final draft of my manuscript, I’m reading aloud (and my wife is) to make sure the voice comes through. Good interview!

  2. I met Connie in Sydney this year at the SCBWI Conference – she has such great advice and is full of energy.

  3. Yvette Pompa

    Great interview with Connie Hsu. She’s succinct and inspirational!

  4. Oh Connie, one of your favorite books must be “The Paris Wife” and favorite movie, I’m guessing, “Midnight in Paris.” Oh to be an ex-pat in Paris in the 1920s!