Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SCBWI Team Blog Exclusive: Justin Chanda!!!


Did you see that the deadline for the Early Bird Rate has been extended? YES! You have until Friday to register for the SCBWI Winter Conference. It's this coming February in New York, it's without fail, one of my favorite weekends of the year, and if you attend there's a 98% chance of a Justin Chanda Sighting.

You may know that Justin is the vice president and publisher of three flagship children's imprints at Simon & SchusterS&S Books for Young ReadersMcElderry Books and Atheneum.  That he oversees the publication of two hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA. That Justin has worked with Jon Scieszka, Loren Long, Kenneth Oppel, Patricia MacLachlan, Peter Brown, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Dan Krall, Morgan Matson, Mike Lupica, and Debbie Ohi (whom he discovered through SCBWI).  

You may also know that Justin is an adjunct instructor for the NYU Graduate Publishing Program and that he recently added publisher of SAGA press, a newly minted adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy imprint, to his resume. You may also, also know that he's on Twitter @jpchanda.

BUT DID YOU KNOW that JUSTIN CHANDA would consider letting MARGARET WISE BROWN take a long walk off a very short pier? Check out why in my short interview below where I asked Justin a few q's, and his a's are pretty g:

Jaime: Justin! I'm all about the visuals and interested to hear what catches your eye in a bookstore—do you have any favorite covers (not from your publishing house) for 2014/January 2015?

Justin: I love the covers for...

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Rain Reign by Ann Martin

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

Jaime: Lovely! Kill, kiss or marry: Beatrix Potter, Randolph Caldecott, Margaret Wise

You have to marry Caldecott (dividends with that one). 
Kill Brown for making me read Goodnight Moon so many times.
Kiss Potter (I’d never pass up a kiss from a Beatrix!)

Jaime: The above makes perfect sense. Easy question for you: Favorite pizza in New York?

Justin: Easy. And this is after EXTENSIVE tours and tastings. Trust me.  Lucali in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.  Get there. Drop everything. Go.

Jaime:  I knew that would be easy for you! Lucali is delicious Let's get down to the really important questions: What does a SimonSchusterer such as yourself snack on during the day? Does Rockefeller Center pipe Jacques Torres drinking chocolate directly into your department? Are there any not-to-be-missed snacks in Manhattan you recommend our conference goers seek out?

Justin: And by “snacks” you mean “drinks," right?  Wink! Wink! Clink! Clink! Because, well, I’m going to assume that this was a coded message to find out where the best BARS are.  In Midtown the only respectable bar is the bar at Ma Peche.  Downtown east is the best bar in NYC, Death & Company. But Cienfuegos is also absolutely worth checking out. If your are Downtown West you have to go to Employees Only.

Jaime: How come you have only ever taken me to an Olive Garden?

Justin: ...

Jaime: JUSTIN! What if your liver needs to take a break, do you eat solid food snacks?

Justin: Oh. You meant what I snack on (for real) during the day? Oh! Um. Yeah. Every single person on my editorial staff BAKES LIKE A PROFESSIONAL.  And they are so generous with their baking.  And they share.  All of it.  Almost every day.  Especially during the winter.  So if you ever wonder why my belly is constantly expanding… well…

Jaime: Some of your staff are real cookie monsters...
S&Ser Laurent Linn

Justin. Can you give us a hint of what books you're working on this week? Or a few of the titles that you've worked on that are just coming out in stores?

Justin: This week I’m working on (on the editorial side of stuff) books by ER FRANK, Mike Lupica, Ken Oppel and Nathan Lane. Its a fun week.

The next book which I have edited that is hitting the shelves soon is THE ONLY GAME by Mike Lupica.  Then comes SICK SIMON by Dan Krall. Then there’s some really cool stuff in the summer and fall (including a collaboration between Ken Oppel and Jon Klassen).

Jaime: Wowzers! Final question, are you willing to share some snapshots of your office?

Justin: Sure.  

Thank you so very much, Justin! Hope to see all of you at the SCBWI Winter Conference!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jaime Does Like Contracts!

So excited to report I'll be illustrating Eric Ode's BIGFOOT DOES NOT LIKE BIRTHDAY PARTIES for Sasquatch Books! The remarkable Tegan Tigani, who you may run into at an independent bookstore near you, is editing.

The whole Sasquatch experience has been wonderful so far, I'm thrilled to be working with a publisher that is only about eight blocks away from me. If we could train a carrier pigeon to ride a fixie, we could totally send feedback via bike messenger.