Friday, July 19, 2013

Editor Namrata Tripathi: The Exclusive #LA13SCBWI Team Blog Interview

Editor Namrata Tripathi

Namrata Tripathi is executive editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.  She acquires fiction and nonfiction picture books, literary-commercial middle grade and YA novels, and select graphic novels. She acquired and edited the New York Times #1 Best-selling Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer and the Printz Medal and Morris Award-winning novel Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. She is interested in finding fresh, bold picture books and honest, hilarious, or heartbreaking novels with unique voices and diverse characters.

I caught up with Namrata to find out more about her and the sessions she'll be giving at the upcoming 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference, August 2-5 in Los Angeles...

Lee:  When you attend a conference, are you looking to meet writers and illustrators?

Namrata:  Absolutely! Since I acquire and edit picture books, middle grade, and YA, I’m looking for talented folks who work in all these formats.

Lee: What would be the ideal way for someone to approach you - a pitch? A sense of what you've edited? A business card?

Namrata:  It’s always great when someone is familiar with my list and what I’m looking for. That helps ensure the best use of everyone’s time! It’s rather overwhelming to be given samples/submissions while I’m walking the floor at the conference. It’s definitely better to take advantage of the open submission period following the conference (the details should be included in the conference packet) after researching the various editors and agents present and reaching out to those with whom you think your work will click.

Lee:  Having said all that, out of the last 10 projects you acquired, how many were agented?

Namrata: All of them. However, I have acquired a few projects based on partial manuscripts I saw at conferences.

Lee:  You'll be speaking on the Saturday morning editors panel "What Makes an Evergreen, What Makes a Hit." What's the distinction - is "evergreen" a book popular beyond trends and time, and a "hit" is the big book of the moment that we can't even remember the next summer?

Namrata: Everyone will have his or her own definition of “evergreen” and “hit,” but I think you’ve captured a lot of what is implied when we use these terms. That’s not to say that hits cannot become evergreens. Some hits really stand the test of time. I don’t think a hit is necessarily something we can’t even remember the next summer, but is rather a book that somehow captures the essence of this summer—a cultural moment, a trend, a point of view. I’ve been re-reading a lot of Judy Blume’s middle grade and YA backlist, and to me they feel like the type of books that are both hits and evergreens.

Lee:  Yeah, Judy Blume is amazing! You'll also be giving a Pro-Track workshop (along with John Corey Whaley) on "Best Practices for the Author-Editor Relationship, and the Challenge of the Second Book." Can you share a bit more about what you'll explore in that session?
Namrata:  Corey and I will get into the nuts and bolts of what it means to really collaborate on a project—how the process works and how you can make it work more smoothly by communicating well, knowing when and how the agent can be helpful, hiccups you might encounter, how the process of writing your second book is so different from your debut etc. Each project and every relationship is different, but I think it’s always interesting and illuminating to listen to publishing anecdotes. Plus, you’ll learn how Corey and I discovered we’re literary soul mates!

Lee: You're ALSO (you'll be busy!) giving a Sunday morning workshop "Inside My List at Atheneum" - which sounds like the best way to get to know your tastes in books.

Namrata: That’s right! This is a great place to learn about my list and what I’m looking for if you’re considering submitting to me after the conference. Plus, I’ll get a chance to brag about the wonderful authors and illustrators I get to work with and every editor loves doing that!  If you’re attending the picture book dummy intensive on Monday, I’ll go over this information then as well, so don’t feel you need attend both!

Lee:  I remember hearing the story of your challenging illustrator John Rocco to write his own picture books as well as illustrate, and he's done just that to great success. Is that advice you'd roll out to illustrators in general?

Namrata:  It depends. I think this is a great thing for all picture book illustrators to do as an exercise. It helps you understand the medium on a deeper level, presents you new insight into the interplay between art and text, and gives you an appreciation for the hard work of writing a picture book. But not every illustrator is meant to be an author. Just as not every author is meant to be an illustrator! They are both storytellers, but each has their own set of tools to use. Some folks are lucky enough to be ambidextrous in that way and if I see a hint of that, I always encourage them to explore it.

Lee:  Favorite advice to share with conference attendees?

Namrata:  The same advice I give myself going into the conference: Be open and curious. And have a good time!

Lee:  Speed round!  Pie or cake?

Namrata:  Pie. Unless you can add a graham cracker crust to the cake. Then both.

Lee:  Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Namrata: To acquire and edit, probably neither, but I’d lean towards fantasy. To watch/read…I may be coming around to the Science Fiction side of things. My husband’s relentless nerding out is starting to win me over.

Lee: Black & White inspiration for the Saturday night gala?

Namrata:  Madhubala meets Tana Hoban. No, I can’t back that up!

One of Tana Hoban's books for young children

Bollywood Actress Madhubala

I can't wait to see that outfit!  Thanks, Namrata!

To attend Namrata's sessions and experience all the craft, business, inspiration, community and opportunity the SCBWI Summer Conference offers, grab one of the few remaining spaces here.

Oh, and a CONTEST  - the first commenter to correctly identify the arcade game Namrata is playing in her photo above will win an ARC of Corey Whaley's newest book, NOGGIN.  The novel even has an arcade game thread!  Good luck!


Anonymous said...

My name is Stephen Macquignon


Paige said...

Ms. Pacman!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Paige, you are correct - It IS Ms. Pacman. Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address to leewind (at) roadrunner (dot) com
and we'll sent you an amazing ARC of NOGGIN!