Sunday, July 26, 2015

SCBWI Pre-conference interview with editor Rotem Moscovich

There will be a new face at this year's summer conference, and I am SO STOKED for us.

Rotem Moscovich is a senior editor at Disney-Hyperion primarily editing middle grade novels (Hook’s Revenge and its forthcoming sequel by Heidi Schulz, Smek for President by Adam Rex) and picture books (Templeton Gets His Wish by Greg Pizzoli, Tommy Can’t Stop! by Tim Federle and illustrated by Mark Fearing) (and my picture book that comes out next summer, Alice and Lucy Will Work for Bunk Beds(!!!)). Rotem was nice enough to answer a few questions in between conferences.

Jaime: Rotemmers, I think this might be your first SCBWI summer conference?! And we are so lucky to have you! Who are you excited to hear speak?
Rotem: It is, indeed! I’ve never been to LA. There are many people I’m excited to hear speak, but especially Adam Rex: it’s always enlightening for me to see the process from the perspective of authors/illustrators that I work with. It helps me be a better editor, and not just for that particular creator.
Photo of Adam Rex. Adam thought he was going to jury duty selection,
but it was actually the premiere of his movie, HOME
Jaime: Oh, yeah! Adam! I suppose he'll do. Rotem, I thought publishing took the summer off, but I'm not sure you got that memo, what are you working on this week?

 Rotem: This week, I’m editing catalog copy for Summer 2016, reading submissions on the subway, answering emails (emails emails!), getting notes to an author-illustrator on a picture book, and beginning to edit the third novel in a chapter book series. And hopefully looking at mechanicals for several picture books that have to go out to the printer for F&Gs! It’s a short week for me, because I’m going up to Boston for Simmons College’s Summer Institute in Children’s Literature that runs Thursday eve through Sunday.

Jaime: Jeez, Rotem, it is summer! Are you at least snacking appropriately for summer? I know first-hand you are a gelato connoisseur, what's a latest favorite flavor?

 Rotem: Hmm, I recently had arugula gelato at L’albero Dei Gelati in Brooklyn. I’m not a huge fan of salads, so I felt pretty good about that! Kidding—but it was really good, both in flavor intensity and texture.

Jaime: Dear god, you weren't kidding, there really is arugula gelato, I think I would eat it, but would need a backup scoop of chocolate or something waiting in the wings. Speaking of wings: 
What are you planning on doing on your plane ride from east to west coast? Are you catching up on sleep? Watching a pirated copy of Magic Mike 2? Working?

Rotem: Probably a combination of editing a novel and writing the ceremony for my friend’s wedding in August, which I am officiating. I get pretty wistful on plane rides, so wish me luck!

Jaime: Aww, well, I hope you at least have a good, non-arugula based plane snack to look forward to. Here's a question from our illustrator conference goers: Do you like receiving illustrator promo postcards? And if so, are you looking for anything particular these days? Otters? Bankers? Banking otters?

Rotem: I do—it feels pretty analog, but I still have my folders of potential illustrators, and I also like seeing how far an artist has come over the years. I told Lauren Castillo recently that I still have one of her postcards from 2005! If I get a manuscript in and don’t instantly have an idea of who I think would be perfect to illustrate it, I absolutely delve into the folders to try on different styles in my mind. I don’t have a particular animal or activity in mind, but I like for the image to have a sense of narrative. I want to wonder about the story behind that chicken, girl on a bicycle, or ethereal land.
Jaime: So you can neither confirm nor deny that banking otters are going to be hot in picture books?

Rotem: ...

Jaime: Venture capitalist pigs?

Rotem: ...

Jaime: I'll take your silences as maybes. What is your favorite summer read so far?

Rotem: Does spring count? I absolutely loved (and cried over) The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. Everyone should read it –she’s such a master at family dynamics. I’m looking forward to reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates during my vacation in August.

Jaime: Ooooo, I do love the Penderwicks. Okeedokee, final question, if you weren't an editor, what is another vocation you'd consider?

Rotem: My alternate-reality dream job would be to make muppets for Sesame Street. Or maybe I’d be an acupuncturist.

 Thank you, Rotem!! I think I will join you in this alternate reality of muppetmaking!

So excited for the conference next week and hope to see you all there. If I don't see you all there, remember SCBWI Team Blog is blogging from the conference blog all weekend.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

SCBWI Pre-conference Interview with Agent Jenny Bent

Jenny in a somber moment
Jenny Bent is the supreme high commander of the amazing Bent Agency and a smart and lovely lady. She's interested in middle grade and YA, you SCBWIers-looking-for-agents, so be sure you check out her session on query letters on Friday, her bits and bobs on the agent panel on Saturday, as well as her career advice session Saturday. Also, Jenny likes TERRIBLE coffee, like, blueberry-flavored coffee, so if you have any old candy or beverage samples that you've thought sounded too weird to try yourself but didn't want to throw away, feel free to give them to Jenny when you see her in LA. Jenny was nice enough to answer a few questions for us to get us pumped for the 44th annual SCBWI Summer Conference.

Jaime: Jenny Benders! You are one of my favorite people to see at the LA conference, what are YOUR favorite parts of the LA conference experience? 

Jenny: Honestly, I love meeting the writers. 

Jaime: And?

Jenny: I love their energy, excitement and enthusiasm.  

Jaime: AND?

Jenny: ...

Jaime ANNNNNNND???!!!

Jenny: And seeing YOU of course.  That’s the other best part.   

Jaime: Aw, Jenny, you're embarrassing me. What's your latest book submission wish? Like, "I wish someone would send me a manuscript that's Gone Girl, but with anthropomorphic teen rabbits”?

Jenny: I would love an amazing magical MG that reminds me of the classics by E. Nesbit and Edward Eager.  In YA, I would love a contemporary with a strong sense of place and a kick ass heroine like Anne of Green Gables.  I also want a modern-day Pippi Longstocking.  Have you read that recently?  It is FABULOUS. 

Jaime: I've never read Pippi! I'll fix that. On board with the rest, though! It sounds like maybe you want The Girl with the Green Gable Tattoo, I would totally read that. You seem to love social media, and it seems to love you back. Whose Twitter account do you routinely find is enjoyable to read for whatever reason?

Jenny: Hmmmm….Elizabeth Craig is great just because she tweets so many wonderful, useful links. And Matt Ringler at Scholastic is just always hilarious and entertaining. Oh, and Jen Klonsky at Harper is super funny, too, as is Josh Bank from Alloy.

Jaime: Useful and funny! What are you planning on doing on your plane ride from east to west coast? Are you catching up on sleep? Watching a pirated copy of Magic Mike 2? Working? 

Jenny: Do you want the truth? I’m sure I will be finishing my critiques.  

Jaime: I think most conference critiques are done on westbound planes, Jenny, you agents and editors are crazy busy. Last question, if you weren't agenting, what is another vocation you'd consider?

Jenny: No clue.  I’d be f*cked. (Can I say that on this blog?)

Jaime: I'm only sad there was only one f bomb.

Merci, to Jenny! And folks! Below are links to the other fantastico pre-conference blog interviews from SCBWI TEAM BLOG. Remember, we'll be blogging and tweeting for you during the entire LA Conference.

Jolie interviewed Mem Fox!
Don interviewed Joe Cepeda! And Dan Santat!
Lee interviewed Adam Rex! And Miranda Paul!
Martha interviewed Mike Curato!  And Shannon Hale!