Interview: Andrew Harwell, Editor

Andrew HarwellAndrew Harwell is an Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, focusing on middle grade and young adult fiction. He especially loves novels that take risks and play for keeps, and his favorite books are genre-benders held together by alchemical prose.

At Harper, Andrew has the privilege of working with such genius authors as Dan Gutman, Heather Brewer, J. Scott Savage, Noelle Stevenson, Madeleine Roux, and many more. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Andrew is a piano player, a gamer, and a film fanatic.

For an incomplete list of books he’s edited, some of which are coming out soon, click here and follow him on Twitter

Let’s see how Andrew answers the Proust Questionnaire!

Asylum revised coverWhat is your idea of happiness?
My idea of happiness is much like Zadie Smith’s idea of “joy” (as opposed to “pleasure”), from the 1.10.13 New York Review of Books: “a strange admixture of terror, pain, and delight” that comes from truly loving other people and finding meaning in one’s work.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
“Us” by Regina Spektor. A friend introduced me to her music with the song “Samson” just days before I was to spend a summer in Germany, and it was a beautiful song but also very sad. I listened to it on repeat throughout my ten-hour flight and worked myself into a kind of funk, already missing my friends and wondering why I wanted to spend a summer studying alone, anyway. But this was my first time living abroad, it wasn’t supposed to be sad! So as soon as I arrived in Freiburg and found a WiFi hotspot, I downloaded more of her music, and when I first heard “Us,” it was a revelation. Missing friends could be a happy feeling, too, I realized. A “Yes, and” moment. And the refrain spoke to me: “We’re living in a den of thieves, rummaging for answers in the pages.”

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play the piano by ear. I do play the piano, and after many years of practice, I can even tromp my way through a few songs in very loud imitations of what they are meant to sound like. But even those songs required me to puzzle out each measure one chord at a time; I so wish I could hear a song and channel it, sight unseen.

JupiterPirates-HCOn what occasion do you lie?
In the elevator at work. Someone will ask me something simple like, “What are you doing this weekend?” and, in the sheer terror of trying to complete a coherent answer in ten seconds or less, I’ll start babbling things that are only half-true, maybe, and then get off on my own floor cringing at the memory of my voice.

What is your present state of mind?
Reflective.

What is your motto?
Via Tina Fey and my own years doing improv: “Greet everything with ‘Yes, and….’”

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
It’s either imagination or it’s a sense of humor, so to answer this question, I’ll say “an imaginative sense of humor.”

3.12.09Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Point being…” I’ve always felt this need for the things I say to have a point, even if it means I’d better figure out what it is while I’m talking. Hence this expression, which I overuse as a segue / stalling technique.

Your favorite painting?
I’m going to say “Phoenix with Crutches” by Sophie Blackall, since her use of Chinese inks and watercolors qualifies it as a painting. Phoenixes have always had special significance to me, and a print of this painting was the first piece of art I ever bought with my own money.

What is your favorite journey?
The flight home.

What is your favorite time of day?
When it isn’t day at all, but late at night, and everyone else is asleep.

Almost Super_finalWith which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Sophie Hatter. We’d fuss about Howl and then she’d unlock my magic powers.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
A well-organized mind, with deference to Dumbledore.

Who or what is your first love?
Playing pretend.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I was in my high school calculus class, and I couldn’t remember how to do natural logarithms. I have multiple interpretations of what I think this dream meant, and none of them are very interesting.

What’s your madeleine?
Christmas, in all its smells, sights, and rituals. I love that everyone essentially agrees to believe in magic for a month, putting up colored lights on their houses and listening to bizarrely earnest music. When I was a kid, I would hide in the corner behind our Christmas tree for hours, imagining I was tiny and friends with the Nutcracker ornaments. Every year at Christmas, I feel like that kid again.

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

Interview: Sara Sargent, Associate Editor

Sara Sargent photoSara Sargent is an Associate Editor at Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. She started her publishing career as an intern at Miramax Books before eventually interning at Disney/Hyperion Books for Children, getting her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern, and joining the editorial team at Harper. She is also Chair of the Young to Publishing Group. Her authors include Rosamund Hodge, Sangu Mandanna, Marcy Paul, and Kiki Sullivan. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at Sara_Sargent. Sara lives in Brooklyn.

Her current projects include Cruel Beauty, Gilded Ashes and The Dolls.

Keep in touch with Sara on her blog!

Sundered HC CNow, let’s see how Sara answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
A quiet mind.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Picking a favorite song is like picking a favorite book: I can’t. But one song I love is Van Morrison’s “Queen of the Slipstream” because it reminds me of nights in college when my roommate and I would stay up too late studying, eat too much pizza, and stress too much about grades. When we got punchy we’d listen to that song and be less worried about the state of our lives. Looking back, that stuff mattered so little.

LostGirl_jkt cWhich talent would you most like to have?
I would love to have a good singing voice. It would be preferable to sounding like a screeching cat, which I do 90% of the time.

On what occasion do you lie?
Getting out of plans.

What is your present state of mind?
My flight back to New York from Vancouver is delayed three hours right now. I have been moving slowly through the five stages of grief, and am nearing acceptance.

GildedAshes EPB CWhat is your motto?
Only you are responsible for your own success.

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

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
xoxo

Madame X by John Singer Sargent (1884)

Madame X by John Singer Sargent (1884)

Your favorite painting?
Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent.

What is your favorite time of day?
Twilight.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Amy Dunne.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Creating a loving, lasting home.

What’s your favorite journey?
The walk back to my desk after a successful Acquisitions Meeting. Or whatever plan trip/train trip/car trip I’m taking on a Friday night en route to a weekend getaway.

Who or what is your first love?
Human relationships.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I just know it took place in a big, empty mansion.

What’s your madeleine?
Everything about autumn.

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

Interview: Lorin Oberweger, Editor & Author

LOberwegerLorin Oberwerger is an Author/Independent Book Editor/Director of the acclaimed Writing the Breakout Novel Intensive, Story Masters, and Your Best Book Workshops. In love with the written word and in the business of making writers great. Tampa, Florida. Single. Two cats. Gemini. ;-)

She is currently working on an amazing and ambitious work-for-hire project about which I’m not really permitted to say much. Let’s just say that outside of the work I do with other authors, this is my favorite paid project to date! She is also the co-author of BOOMERANG with Veronica Rossi, which is forthcoming from William/Morrow.

Keep up with Lorin on her website.

Let’s see how Lorin answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
For my loved ones to be happy, healthy, and secure, and I’ll take some of that myself.

More microcosmically, I also love the dark middle of the night when I’m traveling alone, listening to music full blast, and feeling as though I have complete ownership of the road and the moments of my life.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Love Reign O’er Me – The Who. I first remember hearing it after I snuck down to my sister’s bedroom and stole her copy of QUADROPHENIA, which was so big, deep, and ambitious that my tween self hardly knew what to make of it. Proceeded to listen to it in the dark of my room every single night for about two years.

Which talent would you most like to have?
ANY sort of physical prowess would be awesome, though I’d also love to play the guitar.

On what occasion do you lie?
I really try not to do much of it, but I guess I’m as guilty as anyone of the occasional socially smoothing white lie.

What is your present state of mind?
Post-workshop brain fog coupled with a bit of deadline induced overwhelm.

What is your motto?
Well, it’s really Oscar Wilde’s: “We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

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

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Probably “LOL.” And my clients would likely add the word “visceral.”

Marc Chagall, La Mariée (1950)

Marc Chagall, La Mariée (1950)

Your favorite painting?
Oh, so many! But let’s say Chagall’s La Mariée for now.

What is your favorite journey?
Physical = The drive between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

Spiritual/Creative = the journey between adequacy and mastery.

What is your favorite time of day?
Late evening, when the world slips away a little bit and I connect with friends and clients all over the place.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Jo March.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Honestly, I could die happy right now, though I’m sure not looking to do so. But a published novel of my own would ice the cake.

Who or what is your first love?
Though it seems saccharine to say so, books are truly my first love. On the human spectrum, that would have been Dan Doyle, high school boyfriend. (And thanks to the magic of Facebook, I know he’s still a mensch.)

What’s the last dream you remember?
I was attempting to give a lecture on some topic related to science (which should have tipped me off that it was a dream). My notes kept disintegrating in my hands or the letters would slide off the page. At some point, I just lost my voice completely. Classic anxiety dream!

What’s your madeleine?
A roasting chicken. Takes me back to the weekends of my childhood, and to pretty much every Jewish holiday.

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