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?

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?

6 thoughts on “Interview: Heather Alexander, Associate Editor, Dial Books for Young Readers

  1. This is such a fun interview! (or should I say marvelous?). I felt like I was listening in on college roommates getting to know each other better (all the while, introspecting about how I would answer the same questions myself). Nicely done!

  2. Wonderful interview. First time I’ve heard someone else describe loving the smell of burning things. How she would love the peat fires in Ireland!

  3. I had the pleasure of being assigned Heather Alexander at Rutgers One-on-one Conference several years ago. She was an amazing full-of-heart editor with great insight. It is fun to see her answers to these questions – the house painting is truly special. If you get her for an editor you are tres fortunate!

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