Interview: Heather Alexander, Associate Editor, Dial Books for Young Readers

HeatherAlexanderDialHeather Alexander is an Associate Editor at Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Some of her favorite recent projects include Nerve by Jeanne Ryan, and My Family for the War, winner of the Batchelder Medal for most outstanding translated children’s book. It was originally published in Germany as Liverpool Street. Some of her favorite picture book projects include I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman, and the Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child.

Keep an eye out for a new graphic chapter book called Mr. Pants, Game On! by Scott McCormick and RH Lazzell and a YA sci-fi blend of The Fast and the Furious and Star Wars called Tracked by Jenny Martin.

Let’s see how Heather answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is a big to-do list, ideally of projects for a party or other crafty things that bring lots of people together. Also sour gummy worms.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I don’t know if I have a legitimate favorite song, but every time I hear Seaside Rendezvous by Queen, I have to stop everything and pretend I’m in a high school play about Victorians on the beach. I think I heard it first in my living room when I lived in DC and illegally downloaded a whole bunch of Queen songs. Sorry Queen.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I had more artistic talent. I’d love to be able to express myself through paint or music.

NERVEOn what occasion do you lie?
When I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

What is your present state of mind?
Calm, because I don’t have anything urgent on my plate, and hopeful, because I have a lot of things I’m looking forward to.

What is your motto?
Dig a little deeper.

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

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Lately, I’ve been saying marvelous way too much. But it’s such a marvelous word! (See present state of mind.)

photoYour favorite painting?
I love art, and have studied it a bit. My very favorite painting is one my grandfather did of a house. He was an architect first, and was also a brilliant painter. Inside the house is a tiny white figure, and when I was a kid, I always thought it was God. I know now that it’s my grandmother, but I still think of it as the God House. My mother gave it to me a few years ago. It’s absolutely my favorite painting.

What is your favorite journey?
I think it must be from question to answer. Or from problem to solution.

What is your favorite time of day?
Early morning. I hate getting up, but I love being up. Those are the secret hours.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Can I say Charles Dickens, even though he’s real? I’d love to see what he has to say about the current state of things. Plus I’d like to ask him about how he comes up with such genius character names and try to get him to give me a nickname.

my familyWhat do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
The age of 20.

Who or what is your first love?
This may sound corny, but it’s New York City. I visited first when I was about 3, and the energy must’ve seeped in, because when I came back at age 7, I knew that this was the only place I could ever live. I spent the rest of my childhood trying to get here. I moved here the month I turned 21 and still think everywhere else is inferior. I heart NY and NY hearts me. We’re a good match.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Last night I dreamed that I was at an amusement park with my parents. My dad wouldn’t let me buy my own tokens for skeeball, he just kept cramming quarters into the machine before I could. I have a lot of amusement park dreams.

What’s your madeleine?
I think it must be the smell of things burning. Leaves, toast, marshmallows. My mom wasn’t a great cook, and we spent a lot of time camping. Whenever I smell something blackening, it makes me feel cozy.

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

Interview: Kat Zhang, YA Author

smaller APKat Zhang is an avid traveler, and after a childhood spent living in one book after another, she now builds stories for other people to visit. An English major at Vanderbilt University, she spends her free time performing Spoken Word poetry, raiding local bookstores, and plotting where to travel next. WHAT’S LEFT OF ME–about a girl with two souls–is her first novel and was released by HarperCollins on 9/18/2012. The sequel, ONCE WE WERE, comes out 9/17/2013. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen of Stonesong. You can read about her travels, literary and otherwise, on her website or check her out on Twitter.

Let’s see how Kat answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Working toward something I want, helping someone else achieve what they want, and enjoying what I already have :)

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Right now, it’s Lullaby for a Stormy Night by Vienna Teng. I first heard it when my friend showed me some video on youtube about two years ago. I can’t remember what the video was about, but “Lullaby” was playing in the background, and I just love how sweet it is.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I really wish I could sing better, haha. And maybe dance, too.

WLOM_cover to KZ 1.30.12On what occasion do you lie?
When it causes more harm not to.

What is your present state of mind?
Well, my last semester of school just ended, and I’m about to leave in an hour for lunch with an old high school friend, so I’m feeling pretty awesome :)

What is your motto?
There’s a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” My personal motto is to not be one of those men! (or women)

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

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Hmmm….For a while, I used “legit” way too much, but I don’t think I do anymore, haha. I’m not quite sure what my current verbal tic is!

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1767

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1767

Your favorite painting?
Oh, of course I suddenly forget them all as soon as I’m asked! (I have much the same problem when asked for favorite books). I do like The Swing, though I’m sure in about an hour I’ll suddenly remember 10 others that I like better :P  

What is your favorite journey?
That of a terrific work of art :)

What is your favorite time of day?
Just before the sun rises, or deep in the dark of night.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Hermione. She knows so much! ;)

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I suppose as long as I’m happy, I can die happy.

Who or what is your first love?
A boy. Sweet and stubborn and prickly, the way they sometimes tend to be ;)

Once We Were final hi resWhat’s the last dream you remember?
I think my 7th grade Language Arts teacher was trying to give me a Physics test that I hadn’t studied at all for. It was definitely a finals stress-dream, lol.

What’s your madeleine?
Old books, ones that I read when I was a kid. Re-reading them transports me perfectly back to that first reading. Who I was then, and how I saw this book.

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