Fizzy Fangirling – An Interview with Alison Weiss

Hello my lovelies!

Now that I have crawled out of my revision cocoon and rejoined the living, I am thrilled to bring you an interview with the lovely Alison Weiss of Egmont USA!!

(Check out her slaving editor pose there…)

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Egmont USA is a children’s book publisher based in Manhattan and run by wizards. Okay, I can’t back up that wizards thing, but check them out in case you haven’t already caught wind of their awesomeness. I love the Egmont Twitter page which Miss Alison runs. She’s adorable and humble and full of awesome information. Plus, she’s super adorable and chipper, and that’s a big win in the World of Fizz.

So kick back and get to know/ love Alison!

1. All right, let’s hit the basics. How long have you been an editor, and what made you choose this faboo business in the first place?

I’ve been with Egmont for four-and-a-half years, and in editorial for four. (I started as a sales and marketing assistant when the company was just getting started and hadn’t published a single book. Sales and marketing assistant was code name for jack-of-all-trades.) I’ve always loved reading. (Well, after I had my reading breakthrough on a long car ride when I was 7. Before that, my parents were desperate to make me a reader, and I was desperate to have them just read to me instead.) When I was in college, I was poking around for a summer job and stumbled upon a testimonial from someone who had done a children’s editorial internship at Random House. I could read children’s books for a living! It sounded like heaven.

The next summer (I had been a year too young), I applied for that same program and got a spot in Random House’s internship program working with the editorial team at Delacorte Books for Young Readers, and from day one I loved it. When I got back to school to finish up my senior year, there was nothing else I wanted to pursue. It was editorial or bust. But getting a job in publishing is hard, even if you have good experience, so it took some creativity and dogged determination to get into the biz. When I got my offer from Egmont, it was the best Mother’s Day present my mom ever received. (Even better than those monstrous clay “vases” and the like.)

2. What genres do you take on? Do you have a genre that is your “Happy Place,” or one that you tend to get the most feels over?

I have pretty eclectic tastes, so I like everything from middle grade novels that you just want to hug to crazy, dark, twisty YA. Picking out a new book to read is entirely dependent on how I feel on any given day. In terms of the books I take on (or want to take on), it’s the same thing. Egmont’s focus is on fiction for ages eight up, so I’m mostly considering middle grade and young adult, but I think I’d get bored working on just one sort of book. I like jumping from a silly chapter book to a creepy sci-fi techno-thriller YA. It certainly keeps things interesting.

3. For my own personal knowledge, how do you pronounce “Egmont”? Is it like EGG-mont or more like EDGE-mont? Yes, these are the questions that haunt me.

It’s EGG-mont. Think of an egg sitting on a mountain. (I do.)

4. You run the Twitter account for Egmont USA, yes? What kinds of things do you put out there for your followers?

I do tweet for the company, and I love it! (Eyes those who are looking at me like I’m crazy. I am, but that’s another matter.) I find most corporate Twitter feeds really impersonal. They’re pushing their products, and everything they say is about selling. Sure, that has its place, but it doesn’t work on Twitter and will lose followers in a heartbeat. I find that the reason Egmont’s feed works (and why I like tweeting) is that you always know there’s a person behind the tweet. I try to offer a lot of variety in my feed. Sure, I’ll tweet about Egmont books, but I also tweet about general interesting or funny things that are publishing related. I tweet about books from other publishers that I’m reading and loving. I tweet writing advice and regularly take part and host discussion and Q&A sessions about writing and books. I tweet about Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, Merlin and Once Upon a Time, and even occasionally reality TV and current events. I tweet about life in New York, and sometimes let my cat take over the feed for me when I go home to visit my parents.

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I just like the sense of community and connecting with readers, like-minded people, and even those who disagree with me. I think that’s what makes the whole enterprise so fun.

5. I want to hear something fun about you. Anddddd, GO!

I grew up in Sleepy Hollow, New York, as in the town where Washington’s Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is set. (The Johnny Depp movie really got it wrong, but the Disney one isn’t half bad.) Needless to say, Halloween is a big deal there. Our high school mascot was the Horseman, and I still have my sweatpants with horse shoes all up the right leg. When I was maybe ten or eleven, I went to summer camp at Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s estate, and we put Brom Bones on trial for the murder of Ichabod Crane. I was Katrina van Tassel (hoop skirt and all), and to this day, I regret taking Brom’s side. But he was cute, and Ichabod was dead, and what’s a Dutch miss to do?

6. Tell me something that you are working on that has you feeling ALL THE FEELS right now.

I hate singling out just a couple of my books. I love them all! We’re just getting ready to print galleys for Lindsay Eland’s new middle grade novel, A Summer of Sundays, which will be out July 2013. It’s about an almost-twelve-year-old girl who always gets lost in the chaos of her large family. Too young to hang out with her sisters but too old to get into mischief with her brothers, she decides she’s going to do something big this summer to finally stand out. It’s sweet and funny and has a lot of heart, and it definitely gets the warm and fuzzies from me right now.

On the YA front, I’m really excited that Mike A. Lancaster’s The Future We Left Behind just came out. A companion novel to Human.4, it’s a really creepy sci-fi thriller set in a future where the divide between humanity and technology has become nearly invisible. What if humans were upgraded like computers? What if you missed the upgrade? What would you do if you knew another one was coming? I love it! I acquired my first book(s) a few months ago, so I’m still in gush mode about them. (And, frankly, gush mode may never end.) The series, called Of Monsters and Madness, re-envisions classic gothic novels with Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee as the protagonists in 1860s Philadelphia. The first book tackles Robert Louis Stevenson’s Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I find the psychological implications fascinating. And the complexities of the romance don’t hurt, either! Look for the first book in Fall 2014.

7. Do you have any tales of lost-story love? Is there one that became “the book that got away”?

I’m a pretty new editor, so I’m really just starting to build my list. But I’ve certainly had my share of heartbreak over books I got thisclose to acquiring. I think you learn a lot from the books that get away, though. This is an industry where there’s a lot of rejection, and you’ll lose out on many projects over the course of your career. It never feels good, and sometimes there’s nothing you could have done to change the outcome. But there will be other books. I’ve developed really great relationships with agents after projects got away. Doggedly pursuing a project means an editor has to put a great deal of passion into his or her pitch, and agents want to see that level of commitment for their authors, even if it’s not for that particular project or that particular author.

8. It is customary on my blog to share all the embarrassing moments. Share with me something delightful that happened to you in this wacky industry!

I feel like I’m a walking disaster. What isn’t an embarrassing moment! There was the time I spilled a glass of red wine—and then a glass of water—all over my colleague (who was wearing a white shirt) in the middle of a dinner we were hosting for our CEO and CFO. And the time I sent the photocopies (rather than the originals) of a pass to a very big author. (Although that seems sort of minor now.) And the time I went tearing through the Javits Center at BEA because I left my pocketbook under the table where I’d scarfed down lunch hours before. (It was there and nothing was taken. Phew!)

And that is the lovely Alison Weiss!!  Isn’t she too adorable!?

I hope you all enjoyed getting to know this fine gal as much as I have!  Leave her all the love and snergles in the comments!!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Tweeting Kittehs!!!

5 Comments

  1. THANK YOU FOR ASKING/EXPLAINING HOW TO PRONOUNCE EGMONT.

  2. That was fun to read! Thanks!

  3. Great interview Summer! And I just love the Juno gif 😉

  4. Thanks for the interview, but it was very difficult to read this with the gifs!! They made me nauseous while I was trying to focus on the words. Maybe a few less, and not between *every* tiny paragraph, so I don’t have to shrink my browser to a sliver?

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