Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cynsational News, Links & Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds by April Lurie (Delacorte, 2007)! Note: giveaway has been upgraded from an ARC to a final hardcover copy!

From the promotional copy:

"Brooklyn 1977. April Lundquist lives in Dyker Heights, a neighborhood populated by the Mafia. Three hit men live on her block: Francesco 'Frankie the Crunch' Consiglione, Vincent 'Gorgeous Vinny' Persico, and Salvatore 'Soft Sal' Luciano.

"When Soft Sal approaches April and her best friend, Brandi Rinaldi, for a favor, well...the girls can't refuse.

"But does the favor, along with the crisp hundred-dollar bills that turn up in their school books, mean that April and Brandi are now in with the Mob? Will April be able to get 'protection' for her older brother, Matt, when he makes the big mistake of falling for the daughter of a big crime boss? And will April's connection to Soft Sal bring her closer to Dominick DeMao, bad-boy rocker and heartbreaker?

"Soft Sal, Matt, Dom...in April's neighborhood the guys stir up all the trouble, but April wouldn't have it any other way."

Read April's blog, April Afloat, and visit her at MySpace! Read a Cynsations interview with April!

One autographed copy of Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds will be given away--to any Cynsational reader! To enter, email me with your name and address by 10 p.m. CST Feb. 25! Please also type "Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds" in the subject line.

More News & Links

Cartoonist Jeff Smith rocks the world of graphic novels: interview by Linda M. Castellitto from BookPage. Here's a sneak peek: "Librarians and teachers have let me know they are getting reluctant readers to read with Bone. So people can actually see there are benefits to graphic novels, vs. the stigma that always was attached to comics... I knew it wasn't true. I learned to read because of comics." Visit Boneville. Note: As a pre-schooler, I learned to read with comics from the nearest convenience store and picture books from my local public library.

Tami Lewis Brown interviews Andy Sherrod (part one, part two) at Through The Tollbooth as part of a week-long examination of boys and reading.

Going YA2 by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly. Here's a sneak peek: "the category has grown to encompass books for younger readers as well as those in high school. Now booksellers are faced with a new question: Where to shelve books like Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries, if John Green's Looking for Alaska is considered YA?" Source: Stacy Whitman's Grimoire. See also Stacy's recent post on Self Publishing v. Trade Publishing and a Cynsations editor interview with Stacy.

Barbara O'Conner offers an effectively stated writing tip! Look for her latest release Greetings From Nowhere (FSG, 2008). Check out the book trailer.

Getting a seat at the Coretta Scott King Book Award Table from Black Threads in Kid's Lit. Note: a breakdown by percentage of repeat winners of the award.

In Books for Young, Two Views on Product Placement by Motoko Rich of The New York Times. Source: Coe Booth at The Longstockings; please direct comments to The Longstockings at this post or Read Roger at this one.

Agent Jennifer Laughran Talks Juvenile Writing from Guide To Literary Agents Editor's Blog. Source: Alice's CWIM Blog.

Welcome to Sarahland: YA author Sarah Dessen hits home with teens by bringing them to hers by Sue Corbett from Publishers Weekly. Visit Sarah's LJ and MySpace page. Read Cynsations interviews with Sarah and Sue.

Writing Itself Key To Plots of Young Adult Novels by Greg Langley of The Advocate. Highlights Jessie's Mountain by Kerry Madden (Viking), Tennyson by Leslie M.M. Blume (Knopf), and The Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach (Random House). Read a Cynsations interview with Kerry. Check out Kerry's recent launch party, and visit her MySpace page.

Kids Clapping for Nonfiction by Tanya Lee Stone from I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.) Tanya's recent titles include the very timely Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Candy Stanton and the Right to Vote, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (Henry Holt, 2008). Visit Tanya's LJ and MySpace page! Read a Cynsations interview with Tanya about her YA novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2006).

Did You Know Red Pencil is Harder to Erase than Gray Pencil? from Janni Lee Simner's LJ, Desert Dispatches. Brief insights into the copy editing stage; very on mark (so to speak).

School Advice from Blue Is For Nightmares series characters at Laurie Faria Stolarz's website. Read Laurie's LJ. Read a Cynsations interview with Laurie.

David Levithan: the Happy Editor-Writer by Rachel Deahl from Publishers Weekly. David is a Scholastic editor and the author of several novels, including Marly's Ghost, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Dial, 2005). Read a Cynsations interview with David. Source: The Longstockings.

Courtney Sheinmel debuts her official author site. Courtney is the author of My So-Called Family (Simon & Schuster, fall 2008). From the promotional copy: "Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she's a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: she doesn't have a father, she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now her mother is married and Leah has a stepfather and a little brother. Her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs. Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can't help but feel like something is missing. When she finds the link on the Internet to the Lyon’s Sibling Registry, Leah knows she has to see if she has any half-siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her--even if she has to hide it from everybody else." Courtney also has two additional titles under contract with Simon & Schuster. Visit Courtney's LJ. See Web designer Lisa Firke's story-behind-the site.

Reminders
Austin SCBWI offers a great line-up for its April 26 conference. Speakers include: author and editor Deborah Noyes Wayshak from Candlewick Press (author-editor interview); Alvina Ling from Little Brown (personal blog); agent Erin Murphy (interview from Olswanger.com)(interview by Pam Mingle from Kite Tales, Rocky Mountain chapter, SCBWI); artist's agent Christina Tugeau; and writing professor Peter Jacobi. See details at Austin SCBWI. Note: very few critique slots are left!

28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children's Literature is ongoing at The Brown Bookshelf. Read a Cynsations interview with the team behind The Brown Bookshelf, Paula Chase-Hyman, Varian Johnson, Don Tate, Kelly Starling Lyons, and Carla Sarratt.

Here's a peek at their Feb. 19 interview with Sundee Frazier: "I'm glad to be able to contribute stories that validate the existence of kids growing up in interracial families or who are conscious of their mixed racial heritage."

Here's a peek at their Feb. 22 interview with Coe Booth: "A few people have said I should write more uplifting stories with more upwardly mobile characters. But this is only my first novel, and this one is about one particular boy. It doesn't mean everything I write will be exactly like this. But I also think it's important to write about characters like Tyrell because people like him exist. And young people like Tyrell deserve to have books they can relate to available to them."

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 series is ongoing here at Cynsations! Check back Monday and beyond for more insightful question-and-answer interviews with agents, editors, authors, and illustrators about the U.S. and international youth publishing scene.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

More Personally

I highly recommend "The Spiderwick Chronicles" movie, based on the book series from Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi! I saw it last weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar here in Austin. The storyline, acting, and effects are all fantastic. You'll want to buy the DVD later, but don't wait until then to watch the film. Especially with the amazing effects, it's well worth seeing on the big screen! Learn more about The Spiderwick Chronicles. Read a Cynsations interview with Holly.

My thanks to Jamie, a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! (a reader-created group) at MySpace, for designing a couple of Tantalize-inspired book trailers. Jamie is age 14 and hails from Kentucky. She also is a writer. See trailer one (highlighting the transformation aspect) and trailer two, which draws more on the murder mystery.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Agent Interview: Susanne Koppe of Auserlesen-Ausgezeichnet Literary Agency

Susanne Koppe is the founder of the Auserlesen-Ausgezeichnet literary agency in Hamburg, Germany. She represents both authors and illustrators, such as Katja Bandlow, Franziska Biermann and Antje Damm. Anita Loughrey interviewed her in January, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

What is the book or experience that made you want to work in children's literature as a literary agent?

SK: As a teenager, I was a member of a book discussion group at the International Youth Library in Munich. Sometimes editors joined us to discuss books, so I got an idea of editorial work and--of course--wanted to become an editor. I decided to study German literature and did my first training at dtv junior in Munich.

I think I always liked stories with a real plot, which at that time (the prime time of Peter Handke, etc.) were too hard to find in literature for adults. Maybe, it was also because there were some authors I loved so much I wanted to stick in the field. As a young woman, I loved fairy tales and fantasy. And I quite soon discovered how nice it was to work with illustrations.

When I finished my first two years of studies, I gained a Fulbright scholarship to study Children's Literature at Simmons College. At a summer conference, there were quite a few highly profiled speakers, among them agents and scouts. I also was introduced to the idea of packaging.

Coincidentally, after having finished my studies--I hold a German and American M.A.--I became a trainee at Beltz & Gelberg's rights' department. I was fascinated by the invisible literary good "rights" and the whole copyright system.

Later on, I started scouting and translating for Beltz & Gelberg and other companies, wrote for newspapers and became the first administrator of FILU, a self-organized illustrators' convention/agency.

After a five-year intermezzo as head editor of Rotfuchs, the children's book list of Rowohlt's, I was more than tired of the stress and the declining liberties in a marketing-oriented company.

I wanted to continue working profoundly with my authors and illustrators. I wanted to create books that turned out brilliant because of the serious work put in. I wanted to have the possibility to develop a project before it was killed by narrow-minded sales people.

So I decided to become an agent for writers and illustrators, offering rights and package deals at the same time.

How did you get your start as an agent?

SK: For about a year, I thought of the concept of my future agency. I made sure the authors and artists I would like to work with--many of them friends--shared this wish. I invented the name "Auserlesen – Ausgezeichnet," which on the one hand means "Excellent and Exquisite," but also plays with the words reading (lesen) and drawing (zeichnen).

After I quit my job, it took me about half a year to develop up my visual C.I., my website and my first "program." Officially, I started at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2002. I offered some novels and tried to find jobs for my illustrators. As a give-away, I had produced stamps with little sample of the artists' work and quotes of the texts. These stamps continue to be my trademark even today.

I worked at home and was a one-woman show for one year. Luckily, my second year was so successful due to a big job by VW that I could move into an office I share with a graphic design company. Today, I have a steady freelance assistant for two days a week and occasional trainees.

What kinds of things "turn you off" a manuscript right away?

SK: People being too bold, too demanding, referring too much to their so-impressed spouses and kids... People who can't write one halfway floating sentence.

From an agent's point of view, what are the "realities"’ of children's book publishing?

SK: It's a tough business, but still it is not as tough as the general book market. I am frustrated about the uniformity of the market, but, luckily, again and again thrilled by great and unusual books.

Generally, I have the feeling children's book editors are a bit nicer, but also more dogmatic than other editors. They love to dictate to authors and illustrators what to produce exactly, seldom there is respect for their artistic liberty. Other realities? Little money and slow decisions.

What was the easiest book to sell and why?

SK: Internationally, the books of Franziska Biermann to Korea: Because her book, Mr. Fox Likes Books, is so successful there! In Germany, the novel, Mimus by Lilli Thal--outstanding novels always find more than one publisher interested--and the Christmas song book, Am Weihnachtsbaume, because of the unique concept. Both nationally and internationally, Antje Damm's book, What Is This?, is very popular.

Do you get involved with the marketing aspect of the book?

SK: I try to; it's very important, but sometimes it's hard because of my lack of time and/or the publisher's unwillingness. In any case, I always try to maintain my good relations with the media that prove to be so helpful again and again.

Do you specialize in any particular genre and/or are you looking for anything in particular at the moment?

SK: High-quality books and original activity books.

In Germany, there seem to be more illustrations again in the adult market, after a long period of photographed covers.

For the first time, I did a bridge between a magazine I work with and the book market (I published a book under the magazine's label).

What are publishers telling you about the market and what they’d like to see?

SK: Well, what do publishers do? They complain. And actually I think the market has got tougher. Especially as picture books have such small print runs. Books live less long, as the market is obsessed by bestsellers. So publishers love seeing something that "looks like..." If you offer something out-of-the-way, it needs to be outstanding. Many publishers (or is it just a few?) still love books, love to be amazed, love to believe in their works. And then, it's fun to show them something...

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Author-Illustrator Interview: Emmanuel Guibert

Emmanuel Guibert is a talented comic author whose works include The Professor's Daughter, Sardine in Outer Space, La Guerre d'Alan and Brune. He lives in France with his family. Anita Loughrey interviewed him in November 2007, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

Are you a writer as well as an illustrator, and, if so, which comes first, the images or the words?

EG: Yes, I write and I draw. But writing and drawing don't race with each other, so no one comes first. They are like Mom and Dad, very different, very close in one's heart, and impossible to say whom one loves the most (last time I did it, it's been big trouble).

Do you have favorite medium you work in? If so, did the medium choose you or did you choose it? Can you elaborate?

EG: I draw with anything. And technique is a matter one can only deal with a tool in the hand. I'd rather show you, someday, than heavily write about it.

What are you currently working on?

EG: Alan's war volume III.

If you were to illustrate yourself, what would you look like? (please feel free to draw yourself -- animal, plant, mineral!)

EG: My daughter draws me much better than I do. See below:



What is the hardest thing about being an author and illustrator for you?

EG: Success, fans harassing me at the grocery store.

Did you always want to be an illustrator?

EG: I always wanted to draw.

What were your other career choices, if any?

EG: Do you suggest I should try another job?

Do you have a favorite children's book that you wish you had written and/or illustrated? Why?

EG: Marcellin Caillou by Sempé and The Giving Tree by Shel Siverstein. I don't wish I had written them; I just adore them.

How far ahead do you work? Six months, a year? Longer?

EG: My lifetime. I'd rather go back to work than answering this Q&A because there's a deadline I can't exceed.

What does your work space look like?

EG: A messy cave.

What's on your wall over your desk or drawing table?

EG: A window.

How has your childhood influenced your illustrations and writing?

EG: I'll let you know when my childhood is over.

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent?

EG: I've always had a lot of favorite friends, a lot of favorite colors, a lot of favorite dishes, therefore, a lot of favorite books.

Do you work with the television, radio, or stereo on? In cafés, nursing a half-cup of lukewarm tea, or in isolation?

EG: Yes, all of that at the same time. And even asleep.

Do you have a blog or website to showcase your work, and if so, how often do you blog? Do you get lots of feedback from readers? Has it proved to be useful?

EG: No.

If you could be a character from one of your illustrations, who would you like to be and why?

EG: I'm Ariol. Since I've been born, I'm a blue short-sighted donkey.

Is it difficult to illustrate somebody else's writing? Has it ever caused any problems?

EG: I only work with beloved brothers. A bed of thornless roses.

How did you become a comic book writer-illustrator?

EG: As cooks become cooks. Cooking.

Your books are often historically based, such as The Professor's Daughter portraying Victorian London, and Brune and 'La Guerre d'Alan' depicting Nazi Germany. How much research do you have to do before you start your illustrations?

EG: I have a time machine. But it's top secret.

Could you talk us through the process of how, after you are presented with a book a publisher would like you to illustrate, you generate your ideas for illustrating that book?

EG: I don't work commissioned. And when I ask myself how I am going to illustrate the book I'm working on, eventually, it never looks like my plans.

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Editor Interview: Fiammetta Giorgi of Mondadori Children's Books

Fiammetta Giorgi is an editor at Mondadori Children's Books in Italy. She was interviewed by Anita Loughrey in December 2007, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

What made you decide to go into children's book publishing?

FG: In 1996, I began translating fiction from German and English into Italian (translating, among others, a few titles by Christine Nöstlinger and The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares) and it was thus, almost by chance, that I discovered my passion for children's literature.

In your opinion, what makes a good editor?

FG: You must of course study, know your market, and understand what children usually like; but more than anything, you must have the ability to fall completely in love with a book.

When you're reading a manuscript for the first time, how long does it take you (approx. how many pages? chapters?) to figure out whether it's something you want to pursue?

FG: I'd say 50-70 pages.

What kinds of things "turn you off" a manuscript right away?

FG: When I feel a book is artificial, when it is written on purpose to teach you something or to achieve a certain goal, when it is boring and not lively, when the characters feel false...

What is your favorite thing about being a children's book editor?

FG: Children's books (and the people working in the field) are often funnier, more spontaneous and creative than adult books (and those creating books for adults).

What are some of your favorite books and why?

FG: Just to name a few, Spinelli's Stargirl for the warm and spontaneous realism of the main character; Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret for the innovative and extremely expressive way of mixing text and wonderful illustrations; Brennan's Faerie Wars and Colfer's Artemis Fowl for their humor.

Is there a character you met in a book when you were a child that changed your life?

FG: I could not say that she "changed my life," but Pippi Longstocking was for sure a fascinating model when I was a child.

What book(s) are you proudest of having worked on? Why?

FG: There are many books that can make you feel proud, because you give children the chance to discover something precious: I'm proud to have in my catalog Hawkings' George's Secret Key to the Universe, for its optimism and the way in which it expresses amazing and complex concepts with immediate images. I'm proud to have La composición by Antonio Skarmeta, dealing with the difficult theme of civil war and dictatorship; but I'm also proud to have masterpieces such as Sabuda's pop ups. I also love working with Italian authors because you feel involved in the creation of the book.

Have you worked with both fiction and non-fiction? If so, how do the processes compare? What do you like most (and/or least) about each?

FG: Yes, I work with both. I like non-fiction because usually you can work a lot with the authors and suggest new ways of organizing and developing projects, but I prefer fiction because it is more emotional.

What does the ideal cover letter say?

FG: It is difficult to find a standard because I prefer "surprising" cover letters that can express what is new in each book.

Is there any area on your list you'd like to "grow" at this time? Do you look at art samples?

FG: I'd like to work more with Italian authors. As for the art samples, I'm working a lot with our art director and we like looking for new artists.

How involved in the marketing of the book are you? What is the average marketing budget for a picture book at your house? A YA novel? Etc.

FG: I work a lot with our marketing department because we are trying to present each important book with a different approach. We work together to enhance the content and spirit of each book. Picture books in Italy represent a tiny part of the market, so we usually do not have a specific budget for a single book. For a YA novel, we can invest much more.

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Friend Mondadori at JacketFlap.

Monday, February 18, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Editor-Publisher Interview: Carmen Diana Dearden of Ediciones Ekaré

Carmen Diana Dearden is editor and publisher of Ediciones Ekaré, a Venezuelan Publishing House founded in 1978, which pioneered children's book publishing in Latin America. She is also President of the Banco del Libro, which won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2007 for their profound impact on children's reading in Venezuela and other Latin American countries. She was president of IBBY from 1992 to 1998. Carmen has three children who grew up with Ekaré books, and they have always been willing and creative participants in the process of producing them (and Carmen claims they are the fiercest critics). She was interviewed in December 2007 by Anita Loughrey, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

What made you decide to go into children's book publishing?

CDD: My father was a walking encyclopedia, my mother a storyteller. I grew up surrounded by books and stories, and loved rewriting them or inventing new ones.

I studied anthropology because I was fascinated by different cultures and their oral traditions. When our work in the Banco del Libro's libraries in Venezuela showed us there was a scarcity of good books for children that reflected our culture, setting up a children's book publishing house seemed the natural thing to do. It was a challenge and a joy and a wonderful pioneering time.

I always wanted to work with words. And I still believe in magic.

In your opinion, what makes a good editor?

CDD: A good "nose," i.e. intuition to know what books will work; vision and the capacity to imbue others with it; timing, teamwork, and the power of persuasion.

When you are reading a manuscript for the first time, how long does it take you (approximately how many pages? chapters?) to figure out whether it's something you want to pursue?

CDD: The first page is usually the vital one.

What turns you off a manuscript right away?

CDD: Bad writing, long-winded explanations, stories with obvious messages, sugar-coated themes.

What are the "realities" of children's book publishing?

CDD: Are there such things? I know there are practical aspects of the markets, the big conglomerates, the competition, the fads, the imitations, the "politically correct" frenzies, but the best part about children's book publishing is that it is serendipitous and surprising.

What is your favorite thing about being a children's book editor?

CDD: Watching a work of art unfold, and guiding the whole process. Enjoying the unexpected, crazy things that usually happen.

What are some of your favorite books and why?

CDD: There are so many. From Ekaré: El rabipelado burlado, (The Hoodwinked Possum, retold from the Pemón ethnic group, illustrated by Vicky Sempere) because it was the first book we published; Margarita, (by Ruben Darío, illustrated by Monica Doppert) because it is a rounded little gem; La calle es libre (The Streets are Free, by Kurusa, illustrated by Monica Doppert), because it came from a small, urban "barrio's" real needs and the research process was so fulfilling; El libro de oro de los abuelos, (The little Latin American Book of Fairy Tales) because they are the traditional fairy tales retold with Venezuelan craftiness and part of my family tradition.

The Wind in the Willows, because I found it soothing; Sendak's Nut Shell Library for its humor and wonderful zany verses; Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series; Alan Garner's The Owl Service; Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and Asimov's Foundation books because I am fascinated by fantasy and science fiction; Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird because I wish I had written it; Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday for its irreverent and appealing characters; Hoffman's Struwwelpeter for its crazy, gory verses; Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum and Quino's Mafalda comic strips for their humor and wiseness; Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" for its spookiness and rhythm; fairy tales, legends and mythology; mysteries for obvious reasons, especially Dorothy Sayer's The Nine Tailors which is so well written; dictionaries, because I love words.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, not only for what it's done to children’s book publishing but because I was riveted from the start and tried to get the Spanish rights long before it became a cult.

Is there a character you met in a book when you were a child that changed your life?

CDD: Struwwelpeter. My mother gave me the book because I would never let anybody comb my hair and she thought the sight of Struwwelpeter with his unruly hair and long nails would persuade me, but it had the opposite effect. I thought it was wonderful, and all the horrible things that happened to the children in the book seemed fantastic fun. I think it gave me the power to be a rebel in many things.

What books are you proudest of having worked on? Why?

CDD: The four mentioned above: Margarita, El rabipelado burlado, La calle es libre, El libro de oro de los abuelos. All our Indian tales--Narraciones Indígenas collection -- (to which El rabipelado belongs) because we were the first to start such a collection and worked with missionaries, anthropologists, and primary sources to select and rewrite them and sent the illustrators out into the field for a first-hand experience.

Our poetry collection--Rimas y Adivinanzas--(Rhymes and Riddles, to which Margarita belongs) was also a first, started with the purpose of making poetry fun in classrooms by choosing a poem and turning it into a small picture book (they are 15cm x 15cm format). The idea worked very well and it is still one of our best-selling collections.

Our Asi Vivimos collection (The Way We Live,) which was done with the intention of describing issues of our Latin American culture in which children were protagonists. Issues such as no space to play in densely populated urban "barrios"(La calle es libre); the clash between a poet and a military man in elections in a small Andean town (El robo de las Ae’s, The Theft of the A’s); the plight of an escaped slave in Puerto Rico (La peineta colorada, The Red Shell Comb); the clash between and indigenous and "white man's" culture (Ni era vaca ni era caballo, Neither Horse nor Cow). It has also worked very well, has been the most translated one, and was totally fascinating to do.

As unique translation experiences: Ana María Machado's El perro del cerro y la rana de la sabana. It was more of a rewrite and recreation than a translation because we had to change the characters (from cat to dog, for instance) to make the language rhyme and play in Spanish as well as it had done in Portuguese. It was done with the author herself during a book fair in Mexico; Fox by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks, because Ron helped us choose and work on the font to be used (his original was hand done)--a wonderfully funny and creative virtual experience!

Have you worked with both fiction and non-fiction? If so, how do the processes compare? What do you like most (and/or least) about each?

CDD: Mostly fiction. We did a nature and ecology collection (four books) and started a social studies collection which was fascinating but never made it to press.

Non-fiction is much more time consuming and rigorous, but also fascinating in the research put into it and the new things you learn. The "field work" needed in non-fiction is particularly interesting to me as an anthropologist.

Fiction can be done from an "armchair," but tends to be more fraught with sensibilities and emotions. It sometimes feels like walking on eggshells.

What does the ideal cover letter say?

CDD: I don't think there is such a thing because every writer is different. But basically, something short, to the point, and original.

Is there any area in your list you'd like to "grow" at this time?

CDD: Restart the non-fiction series based on social studies. Novels for ages 10 and up.

Do you look at art samples?

CDD: Yes, I look at art samples. It's a primary source of the sort of books we publish (picture books and illustrated books). It is also enthralling, and we have discovered many wonderful illustrators that way.

How involved in the marketing of the book are you? What is the average marketing budget for a picture book at you house?

CDD: I am involved in the overall process and the strategies, but the real work is done by our marketing and promotion team, who are always full of ideas. They do it with enthusiasm and enjoyment. (I think). Another characteristic of a good editor is to have confidence in her team. It works in Ekaré.

We don't have a budget for individual books per se, just an overall budget for marketing which we usually calculate at about 7% of yearly sales.

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org
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