WELL. Maybe I can help. Do you hear that hollering from La Jolla? It's none other than Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books giving SCBWI TEAM BLOG a sneak peek into her office and her world as a children's book editor.
Hi Allyn! Thanks so much for letting SCBWI TEAM BLOG interview you before the conference. First up, can you give us a hint of what we can look forward to in your NY breakout sessions?
Well, it’s going to be Picture-Books-a-Go-Go, with handouts—and required audience participation. I’m especially proud of the handouts because I made them all myself. By hand! As well, I’m going to have at least two Top Secret Special Guests (who will most definitely be contributing to the fun).
Oooo, I love top secret special guests.
Last summer we heard Beach Lane Books would be bringing out about 20 books a year. You are off to a great start with some beautiful picture books. Here's just a couple:
And of course, the newest Caldecott Honor winner: ALL THE WORLD by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee.
Can you mention a perk and a challenge of publishing a list with mostly picture books?
Perk: Collaboration with authors, illustrators, and designers.
Challenge: Collaboration with authors, illustrators, and designers.
Oh, editors and their tricky trick answers.
What are some of the chapter books or novels we can look forward to from Beach Lane Books in 2010?
We have upcoming novels from, among others, M. T. Anderson, Edith Pattou, and Avi.
You are an SCBWI conference pro – what is your favorite thing about a conference?
I really like how preparing for and speaking at conferences gets me out of my day job and forces me to think about and articulate why I feel all this writing-and-illustrating-and-editing-and-designing-and-marketing-and-selling books for children is so important. And why it’s so important to approach the whole enterprise with rigor and intensity. Most importantly, though, I love how it makes me focus on the true goal of all this work we do together: a child, a story, and a deep and long-lasting connection between them.
That's lovely, Allyn, and I think you have summed up for all of us why we like going to conferences so much.
After approaching my own work with rigor and intensity I'm often really hungry... For all the conference attendees coming to New York, do you have a favorite cafe/bakery/restaurant/pizza place to recommend? Or a must visit place or shop?
I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask since I have spent most of my career based in gorgeous San Diego, California (where the best lattes can be found in La Jolla at Café MoJoe’s; terrific long lunches need to be had at Barbarella; and two yummy-and-affordable neighborhood dinner spots are Lupi and Beaumont’s).
But you asked about New York.
Keko Café has delicious lattes. Flatiron is a completely going-back-in-time spot to have a drink. Tabla and Taboon are restaurants worth a cab ride, and, for an amazing and unexpected tiny spot to shop for treasures to bring home, try Kyotoya at 23 West 19th Street.
Holy Mackerel, those all sound great. I am booking a flight to San Diego as I type. But for those who can't make it to Beach Lane Books HQ, Allyn has graciously provided us with a virtual tour:
Sweet coat rack and friendly, old HARRY BY THE SEAOoo, I have those IKEA drawers. Wonder what is on the inspiration board above the desk...
Don't forget to check out other great SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference interviews:
- Jolie with Blogger Jenn Bailey
- Lee with Art Director Laurent Linn and Agent Eddie Gamarra and Author Jacqueline Woodson
- Suzanne with Publisher Ben Schrank
- Alice with Agent Tina Wexler and conference tips from Conference Goer Jane Makuch
- And in addition to Allyn above, I've got Illustrator Peter Sis!