Jaime: Hello, Jarvis Braun! Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me, but I only have a few minutes, though, before I need to interview someone more important. Are you going to get all high up on your grammar horse as an editor and edit this interview, Jarvis?
Jarvis: No, but my name is Jordan, not Jarvis. Jordan Brown.
Jaime: AHA! That makes more sense, I wondered why you weren't on the faculty list. GUYS READ: THE SPORTS PAGES is out, edited by you, "Jordan Brown," and Jon Scieszka. Eating is sometimes a sport. Would you rather eat a tablespoon (no chaser allowed) of the hottest chili pepper powder known to man OR a tablespoon of Jon Scieszka's tears (100% sadness tears)?
Jaime: Not surprising, really, when you're that old, most of your nerves are dead. What is your favorite working snack?
Jordan: Sunflower seeds.
Jaime: Sunflower seeds! I assume, then, your office looks and smells like the hot end of the Yankees' dugout. May we see your office?
Jordan: Here’s my view from my desk right now. That ace Mega Man II start screen mouse pad is courtesy of my fellow B+B editor Kristin Rens. She’s a sick Secret Santa.
Jaime: Your office is surprisingly seed-husk free. If you've had a chance to read books that you aren't editing, do you have a few favorites of 2012?
Jordan: I’m automatically disqualifying any book I personally edited in 2012. Having done that, I might say THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, by emily m. danforth. Full disclosure, it’s a Balzer + Bray title. But teen lit doesn’t get much better than this. Beautifully written, deeply felt.
Jaime: Let's talk about the upcoming SCBWI Conference—can you give us a hint about your breakout session, Writing For Boys?
Jordan: I’m mostly planning on discussing the elements of stories that I’ve found work for boys, looking beyond the superficial “boy” plot elements to see what really hooks young guys, be they reluctant or avid readers. I’ll also talk a bit about how boys find books, which I think can also be helpful to writers looking to connect with those readers.
Jaime: You're so right, the Kinect is a great way to hook young guys. Anyone you're looking forward to hearing at the summer conference?
Jordan: Oh man, there are some killer keynotes this year. I’ve actually never heard Gary Schmidt speak before.
Jaime: I'm sure Gary can speak! You, silly, he's not going to do Charades, or something!!! Oh, Jarvis, you crack me up, I think we could be best, best friends. Let's see if we have anything in common—what are your current favorite books, movies, or albums?
Jordan: Trying to pick favorites, even current favorites, would drive me crazy with indecision. Here’s what I’m reading/seeing/listening to this week:
Jaime: Uncanny, JB, those are all on my desk, as is a manuscript that needs revising. You know, your authors have mentioned your revision notes on their manuscripts are incredibly helpful. Would you ever consider leading a writing retreat about revision someday? So the greater public could benefit from such super help?
Jordan: Funny you should mention a writing retreat, Jaime. I’m actually going to be leading one in November that is organized by the Western Washington SCBWI chapter. I shouldn’t say “leading,” though – I’m mostly going to be following the lead of author Anne Ursu, my co-leader, who is much, much smarter than me. Those looking to experience first-hand Anne’s sage wisdom and my general punctuality would do well to attend.
Jaime: This is really blowing my mind because I live in Western Washington and am active with the SCBWI! I'll try to be there. Hey, did you know Chris Rylander won the Sid Fleischman Award this year for THE FOURTH STALL? I bet his editor is very pleased.
Jordan: His editor is ecstatic. Of course, the award is so well deserved – Chris is one of the funniest writers and funniest guys I know, and has a special way of being able to use humor in the service of telling a story that has some serious and weighty moments to it as well, not to mention really well-drawn characters. But I’m also so happy—and I know Chris is as well—that the SCBWI has an award for books that prominently feature humor. Too often, it seems, books driven by a sense of humor are automatically thought to be of less literary quality, whatever that means, than “serious” books. That couldn’t be further from the truth with The Fourth Stall, nor with so many other books released each year (including this year’s Newbery winner, Jack Gantos’ DEAD END IN NORVELT). Chris is the kind of writer who deserves every piece of attention he gets, and I’m so very thankful that the SCBWI and the Sid Fleischman Award crew think so too.
Jaime: Cheers to Chris! And thanks for being such a good sport, Jardin!
Jordan: Thank you, Jaime.
Fellow conference-goers, are you researching the attending editors? It's easy with SCBWI.ORG! Current SCBWI Members have online access to the fantastic EDITED BY.pdf in the Resources Library/Just Getting Started Section of the website. And don't forget to check out Martha Brockenbrough's latest interview with conference agent Jill Corcoran!