Interview: Elizabeth Fama, YA Author

BethFamaElizabeth Fama is the author of the young-adult novel, MONSTROUS BEAUTY (FSG, 2012), an Odyssey Award honoree, and a 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title. She attended the University of Chicago, where she received a BA in Biology with honors, an MBA, and a PhD in Economics and Finance. In hindsight, she should have majored in Literature instead.

Elizabeth is married to John H. Cochrane, a talented economist whose books sell better than hers. They have four children, all artist-scholars, and boisterous family dinners with lots of vegetables and good-natured swearing. She jogs every day and plays tennis a few times a week. You run faster than she does, but she can beat you on the court.

Her next project is PLUS ONE, a young-adult alternate-history thriller, slated for publication by FSG in January of 2014

She also has a Sekrit Project: she’s researching a historical personage (she can’t reveal who) with the dream of writing a book that Hilary Mantel will blurb as “WOLF HALL set in Italy for teens.” Check out her website!

MonstrousBeauty-coverLet’s see how Elizabeth answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
A long jog with my kids, a cool swim in the lake, a hot shower, and a day writing on the patio in shorts, with endless cups of decaf tea loaded with honey and milk.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it? 
These “favorite” questions are impossible to answer, so I’m going to be like the Medici and put my bastard sons up for pope. My son, Gene Cochrane, is a composer/musician who calls his band Secabest Bestabed (that’s a ULYSSES reference). My daughter sings “Pirates of the Plains” with him, which somehow makes me cry when I hear it (click here). I first heard it as the tracks were being laid.

Which talent would you most like to have?
To stop eating when I’m full.

On what occasion do you lie?
When someone invites me out to lunch. “I’m so sorry! I’m under deadline.”

What is your present state of mind?
Preoccupied by the many things I want to do, feeling that I’m accomplishing them too slowly, and somehow still delighted with the process.

What is your motto?
You don’t know you’re having fun until it hurts. Mostly invoked regarding athletic and intellectual endeavors.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Thoughtful scarcity.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I think” and “sort of” and “might.” I’ve discovered that my online tone sounds scathing unless I pepper it with qualifiers and exclamation points. I haven’t used enough of either in this interview. 

Messing with Melatonin, Sally Fama Cohrane (2011)

Messing with Melatonin by Sally Fama Cohrane (2011)

Your favorite painting?
Messing with Melatonin by my daughter, Sally Cochrane. It has a direct scientific tie-in with the world of my forthcoming novel, PLUS ONE. It’s also a portrait of my younger daughter, Lydia.

What is your favorite journey?
From my bed to the kitchen. I get to do it every morning.

What is your favorite time of day?
Right before dawn, right before spring. The anticipation of both is even more magical than the real thing.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
I’d share coffee with Max, from WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. And then his mother would send me to bed without supper.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I’d prefer not to die right this minute, but if happiness is the criterion for death, I could. I am an insanely lucky person.

Who or what is your first love?
I gave birth to my best friends. I couldn’t have done that without the help of my first best friend, John.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Is it possible that Proust doesn’t know how boring other people’s dreams are?! Yes, knowing him, it is.

What’s your madeleine?
I live in the same neighborhood I was born in. My children have all gone to the same school I went to. The interior stairs are the original 1903 slate-slab treads, worn to a dip in the center, skipping-rock smooth from millions of footsteps. They were worn even when I was little, and I used to imagine the girls in white dresses and leather shoes who came before me. I am transported back to lower school, and sometimes back to the turn of the 20th century, whenever I walk on them.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Interview: Rachael Dugas, Literary Agent

rdugasRachael Dugas joined Talcott Notch Literary in 2011. During her tenure as associate agent, Rachael has judged contests and attended conferences in New York and beyond, working with groups such as Writer’s Digest, ASJA, YA Lit Chat, the National Publicity Summit, and the Hampton Roads Writers. Recent sales include titles in young adult and romance to imprints at Hachette, Perseus, and Month 9 Books. Rachael is a former Sourcebooks editorial intern and a proud Ithaca College graduate. She works with YA and MG fiction, romance, women’s fiction, general commercial fiction, historical fiction and cookbooks.

Outside the office, Rachael is a passionate musical theater geek, accomplished home cook, and lover of bad television, sweets, and all things retro. She has a slightly unhealthy obsession with her badly-behaved Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier mix, Hailey, and is guilty of smothering her with affection. Rachael runs on coffee and Diet Coke and couldn’t live in a world without chocolate, bacon, or carbs.

You can find information about my latest deals on my agent page at our Talcott Notch website.

Let’s see how Rachael answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Small things: freshly baked cookies; an unexpected discount at the register; the first warm and sunny day of Spring; laughing with friends; finding $5 in an old pair of pants; catching a great movie on television.

To get a little more meta, loving who you are and what you do and being surrounded by people who care about you and accept you as you are. I don’t think we can ask for anything more in life.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
This is the question I always hate, because I have fairly eclectic taste in music and listen to all kinds of things–I am not sure I can even pick one song per genre that’s my #1 favorite. Also, my taste tends to change dramatically over time, so something I used to play on repeat is probably something I mock now. That being said, if I have to pick one song I’ve known for years that I can listen to again and again and never get sick of, I would have to go with Don Maclean’s American Pie. I first remember hearing it when my family was driving somewhere in the car at night. I remember my parents singing along and knowing an impressive percentage of the lyrics. That or something by Billy Joel, like Piano Man or Lullaby, or Konstantine by Something Corporate, which is just the essence of unrequited love and teenage angst and so, so good. (Clearly, I like wistful songs.)

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to fly! Is that more of a super power? If we’re being more earthly, I wish I could sew and that I wasn’t so dreadful with numbers.

On what occasion do you lie?
When it will spare somebody’s feelings or smooth over a tense situation. I try to be honest at all times, but I do think there are some things that are better left unsaid.

What is your present state of mind?
A little sleepy, but fairly mellow and content.

What is your motto?
Life’s too short–do what makes you happy.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
I value friends who are honest and “real”. I also value friends who you can leave for a while and then pick up with again, as though you just saw them yesterday.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Cool”, “Awesome”, “Yeah, no…”, “but”, “um”, “What?”, “seriously” and perhaps “literally”. (#TypicalFirstWorld20-Something)

Your favorite painting?
I am really partial to Monet’s Japanese bridge and water lily paintings. I went to his home in Giverny once–it was amazing.

The Japanese Footbridge, 1899

The Japanese Footbridge, 1899

What is your favorite journey?

The journey from raw ingredients to a successful, finished dish.

What is your favorite time of day?
I love golden afternoon sunshine in almost any season and, also, that amazing extended twilight hour we get on summer evenings.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Professor Bhaer from Little Women. I’ve always had a literary crush on him!

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Honestly, there are a million things I’d like to do still, both big and small, but if my life ended tomorrow, I can honestly say there isn’t anything I’d need to go back and accomplish in order to feel like I’d completed it successfully.

Who or what is your first love?
Well books, of course! And music. And, later on, a very literal person, who I am lucky enough to still have in my life today.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Actually, this was awesome–I dreamed that I was friends with the Barefoot Contessa the other night and that I was at her beautiful beach home somewhere fabulous and we were cooking an upscale, gourmet meal for the President of the United States and his guests. It was kind of amazing.

What’s your madeleine?
Christmas carols, definitely. All it takes is a few notes to put me back under the Christmas tree, writing my list to Santa.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Living.

Interview: Sue Winegardner, Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing

Sue Winegardner is an Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing, working for Heather Howland, who is the Michael Phelps of editing (minus the speedos and the dodgy behavior). She started her career at a magazine publishing company doing page layouts, which segued into a marketing position at a leading international airline. While working there, she lived in London, Washington DC, New York, Paris, and back to London. Then true-love arrived in the form of a man in uniform, and she upped sticks and re-located permanently to the US from her beloved England, a place she is perpetually homesick for.

SueWIn her spare time, she reads, writes, shoots competitive trap, and studies all kinds of history. She has dreams of using her qualification in archaeology one day. She loves her husband, mainly because he understands that she gets a free pass if she ever meets Aaron Sorkin, Woody Allen or Caitlin Moran.

Sue is so incredibly excited that Heather has given her the opportunity to work with some of the most awesome authors. She worked on Samanthe Beck’s new releases PRIVATE PRACTICE, and LOVER UNDERCOVER; Tonya Burrow’s SEAL OF HONOR, and Leah Rae Miller’s THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD. She simply can’t wait for all of these to hit the bookstores!

Find Sue on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Let’s see how Sue answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Hanging with my husband and pup.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I guess I have two. The first was Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan, heard in a boy’s bedroom a long, long time ago in a far off land. More recently, I have a long standing love affair with chill lounge jazz, and my current favorite is Ursula 1000′s Kinda Kinky—first heard in a west coast, city hotel roof top bar.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to sing, a sentiment echoed by anyone I pull up alongside in traffic.

On what occasion do you lie?
Only to save someone’s feelings, but never at work. Entangled Publishing was set up by authors for authors, so if we are able to give feedback on a manuscript, you better believe it’s going to be scrupulously honest!

What is your present state of mind?
Excited.

What is your motto?
Do your best, and be nice.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
A sense of humor (or the ability to appreciate, and not be offended by, MY sense of humor).

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Well, I was going to say “…to be fair…” and “…on the other hand…” but my husband interrupted me and told me, quite firmly, that my most used words and phrases are:

“Bollocks!”
“You complete wanker” and
“For God’s sake, pronounce your bloody ‘T’s.”

Which gives you an idea of what I’m like to live with.

Your favorite painting?
The Two Princes in the Tower by Sir John Everett Millais. I first saw it up close at the Royal Holloway and was transfixed. I wish we knew more about what happened to those boys…

The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483 by Sir John Everett Millais (1878)

The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483 by Sir John Everett Millais (1878)

What is your favorite journey?
Into the Plaka of Athens from the airport, or turning into my neighborhood. (I often tweet photos of the latter!)

What is your favorite time of day?
Dusk. It’s anticipatory. Like the feeling you get when you’re just about to sneeze…

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Aaron Sorkin. God, I wish he would start to write novels. But in my mind, he’s nothing if not a literary hero. In a less surreal life, I’d most like have coffee with my boss, Heather Howland, who is a literary heroine to MANY authors (and me!).

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
To be published, and to take The Grand Tour with my husband.

Who or what is your first love?
English History, and the feeling I get of belonging, and continuity, when I have my fingers in English soil.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I dreamt that aliens were coming in through the back door of my childhood home. I stabbed at the long silver fingers that poked through the holes they’d made. They were saying, “Ouchy…that’s not nice!” and I woke up just as I was thinking that aliens weren’t as badass as I imagined.

What’s your madeleine?
The soft thunk of tennis balls being hit over the net. When I was little my bedroom overlooked a tennis court, and in the evening I would fall asleep to that sound.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Uncharted.