Interview: Dahlia Adler, Editor and YA Author

 

Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and writes contemporary YA in every spare moment in between. Her debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, will be published by Spencer Hill Contemporary in 2014. You can find her blogging on the Daily Dahlia and YA Misfits, or on Twitter as @MissDahlELama.

dahliaadlerLet’s see how Dahlia answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness for me is feeling like I’m sufficiently balancing all the things I love while making genuine strides toward what I want. When I’m working especially hard at my freelance work or writing, and my husband suffers for it, or I don’t have time to see friends or my family, it’s so disappointing. But those rare times I’m making progress on a manuscript *and* at work *and* being there for the people who matter, it’s the best feeling.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
“Heart-Shaped Box,” by Nirvana. My siblings are considerably older than I am, and when I was a kid, it used to drive me crazy how often they took up the TV just to watch music videos. The only ones I’d join them for were “Heart-Shaped Box” and “November Rain.” I love the way the quieter beauty gives way to raging intensity, and I so strongly identify with the desperate need to hold on––to things, to people, to memories. I have such a hard time with change, and as most do, with loss. As I get older, I think it only holds more meaning for me.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I were a great photographer. I used to be really obsessed with taking pictures, mostly at weddings, but I could never justify to myself spending the money to make myself anything special. It’s a shame, because I think of all the wonderful places I’ve been and people I’ve known and wish I’d done them more permanent justice.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I know telling the truth can’t help the person I’m lying to, like if you ask how you look when we’re already on our way to a party. Or if your manuscript is in a state in which you obviously won’t be doing any further revision. What’s the point? It can only hurt you.

What is your present state of mind?
Stressed. I overextended myself for a few weeks with different projects and a whole bunch of things just collided at once. I live to organize, but right now, there’s just too much. I tell myself, “It’s OK, there’s a deadline, and then everything will go back to normal,” but it’s never really the case. I’m living an unsustainable lifestyle right now, but I also don’t have kids, which means I can be pretty selfish. I’m trying to run with that as much as possible to get stuff done.

What is your motto?
It used to be “Always write forward,” but it’s sort of morphed into, “You can’t edit a blank page.” It’s hard to force yourself to put words down sometimes that you know are gonna change, that you know you don’t love, but you can’t make yourself change and love them if they don’t exist. That’s been a really important lesson as a writer, and it got me through a very difficult manuscript recently that I’m now really proud of.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Dependability. It’s one I really pride myself on. If I’m busy, I’ll be honest about it, but if I’ve told you I’ll be there, I’ll be there. If I’ve told you I’ll do this for you, I’ll do this for you. It’s something I really need in return, especially as someone who’s so mentally organized. I could never have critique partners, for example, who don’t read when they say they will. It’s a big reason I rarely have random betas.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m an admitted adverb abuser. “Obviously.” “Actually.” “Definitely.” The list is endless. I’m working on it. I swear. Obviously.

 

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Your favorite painting?
Starry Night, by Van Gogh. Not very original, I know, but I hold onto my “favorites” forever. Whatever my favorite [fill in the blank] is now is probably the same as whatever it was when I was a kid. I first saw Starry Night when I was five and nothing has ever taken its place. It’s just something about the textures of it all, the way the luminosity is expressed, the way you really have to hunt for the bits of color in the town. It just works for me.

What is your favorite journey?
The one into mental adulthood. I love observing the things I know now that I didn’t know then, noting the way certain “absolute truths” have changed over time. For me, the apex was realizing that I believe “This too shall pass” 100% of the time. That was definitely something I never felt in high school.

What is your favorite time of day?
I’m definitely a night owl. I like being awake at a time when I’m generally not expected to be anywhere else.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
I love books and characters, but I rarely find I want to hang out with them. Especially anyone I could classify as a hero or heroine. I’d rather just have Scarlett O’Hara throw coffee in my face, then tell all my friends about it.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
My family has been enormous proponents of my writing ever since I was a kid. I feel this tremendous (and completely self-imposed) pressure to prove them right, and to show that all the time I’ve spent is worth it. I guess that ultimately translates into “I want a book deal!” which is just silly, but there you have it.

Who or what is your first love?
My husband. The obvious answer, yes, but he makes it possible for me to do everything else I love. Even writing isn’t as generous as that.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I was in an insane asylum. I didn’t know how I ended up there, but I knew I had to act just the right amount of crazy to get to see the doctor, but not crazy enough to be kept there. At the end, I realized I hadn’t even tried getting them to call my husband, and that if they did, that would probably fix everything. Then I realized I’d been committed under my maiden name, which is also the name I write under. You don’t need to tell me how Freudian this all is. I want to commit myself just reading it over.

What’s your madeleine?
That summer night scent––grass and fresh air. I went to the same sleep-away camp for 13 years. You can’t take that out of the girl.

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

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: 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.