Quick Questions: An Interview with Scholastic Editorial Director Nancy Mercado

nancy mercadoNancy Mercado began her career in the Scholastic Book Clubs, where she worked for several years, which led her to Dial Books for Young Readers, where she worked as an editor and a senior editor for several more years, which led to her Roaring Brook Press where she was an executive editor for even more years. Now back at her old stomping grounds, Nancy is currently the editorial director at Scholastic Press.
Nancy’s had the good fortune of editing such books as the Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tommy Greenwald, the Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh O’Brien, I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell, Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis, and many others.

When not editing, Nancy is exploring the Brooklyn playground scene with her husband and two young children and spending way too much time on Twitter. For more information, about the books Nancy has edited, visit her on Goodreads.

And now, to the questions!

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

It didn’t come out in the past year, but I finally read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins over the winter break and fell in love with the way the author revealed character and backstory, her sense of pacing, and the vivid setting that made you feel as though you were having your own semester abroad.

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

Read, read, read.

(Just kidding.)

I think most advice for aspiring authors has been repeated ad nauseum so I’m hesitant to perpetuate that.

Okay, okay, probably, the most helpful piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard is from my author and friend Paul Acampora and it’s super simple: deconstruct the books you love. In other words, if you are stuck with something in your own writing (dialogue, how to move a character from one scene to the next, etc.) take apart your favorite book and see how they did that specific thing.

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

Stand behind Dorothea Lange or Vivian Maier while they photographed?

Watch Martha Graham perform?

Sing back up for Celia Cruz or Stevie Nicks?

Have coffee with Angela Davis or Gloria Steinem?

Visit Diana Vreeland’s office?

Observe primates with Birute Galdikas or Jane Goodall?

Gah, it’s too hard to pick!

Basically I’m drawn to women who were complex and extremely disciplined.

Perhaps because I am neither.

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

I would continue to edit and live in Brooklyn but I’d buy a house in Colombia and spend January-March there so I could avoid the horrible NYC winters.

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

My wish list has essentially remained relatively unchanged over the years. I’m looking for:

  • Great books that will stand the test of time and become part of the literary canon of children’s books
  • Diverse voices that have been typically underrepresented in children’s books
  • Realistic, contemporary, chapter books, middle grade and YA novels
  • Humorous family and friendship stories with a hopeful quality to them
  • Quirky and distinctive voices ala Daniel Pinkwater or Polly Horvath
  • Books like the books I devoured when I was a kid (Some examples: the Anastasia Krupnik series, the Tillerman Saga by Cynthia Voight, the Austin Family Chronicles by Madeleine L’engle, The Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald, the Shoes books by Noel Streatfeild, every YA novel ever written by Paul Zindel and Paula Danziger)

 Thank you for participating, Nancy!

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One response to “Quick Questions: An Interview with Scholastic Editorial Director Nancy Mercado

  1. It’s nice to meet one of the few Latina in the publishing industry. Sadly, we can’t ask her a question. I wonder if she’ll like a contemporary commercial romantic YA fiction set mostly in Mexico and also other Latin countries like Chile and Guatemala .. and we can add a chapter in her beloved Columbia if she wish. Thanks for the interview.