Like our workshop, these faculty interviews focus on youth novels. To read all years’ faculty interviews, see our Directory. Stacey Barney’s full interview will be posted over the next few days; enjoy this sample!
I. GENERAL TOPICS
Why did you become an editor or agent; what do you enjoy most about the work? What’s your personal (and/or publisher's) philosophy or mission?
I became an editor because I wanted to be involved with books. I’d always enjoyed analyzing literature and loved dissecting theme, plot, characterization et al. Being an editor allows me the opportunity to be a part of the process of putting all those pieces together to make what I enjoy most: a really good book. My only mission is really to help writers write the best book they can.
Approximately how many middle-grade and YA novels do you edit per year? What percentage are debut authors?
This varies from year-to-year, so I can’t give a definite number, but I will say I publish about 10 books per year. I don’t know what percentage are debut, but over the course of my career I’ve published a great many debuts.
Which novel genres are you soliciting—or not? Will you acquire crossover genres and New Adult fiction? (Do you feel there’s substantive/literary NA?)
I acquire primarily middle grade and young adult novels that walk the literary-commercial line. I acquire primarily contemporary, fantasy and historical, and from time-to-time sci-fi and a merging of genres, i.e. historical fantasy.
Voice is often touted as a desirable element in fiction, yet it’s difficult to pinpoint (“I know it when I see it”). What does voice mean to you? How can it help create and define a character?
Voice is everything and indeed, I do know it when I see it. I don’t know that it helps create and define a character, but voice definitely IS the character.
Voice is an immediate sense of intimacy and an organic sense of trust in this character; trust that they are full-bodied and real. It has to be memorable from the first word. And that means one’s character has to be memorable from the first word—someone I not only want to go on a journey with, but absolutely have to ride shotgun because I’m mesmerized.
More responses coming soon!