Fizzy Fangirling – An Interview with Vicki Lame
Hello my lovelies!!
I’m not sure how I stumbled into this, but I am wicked excited to share an interview I did with Vicki Lame! I talk about agents so much I thought it might be time to work in a little editor love, yeah?
In case you are unfamiliar with her particular brand of badass, Vicki Lame is an editor for St. Martin’s Press, and publicist for the magazine Armchair Shotgun. She is also a bonafide Twitter darling and someone you should be following.
AND! Because she is super fantabulous, she has graciously offered up an AUTOGRAPHED ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of the brilliant Suzanne Palmieri’s upcoming THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY. (St. Martin’s Press March 2013) Details on how to enter to win this prime treat are down below!
1. First off, how long have you been an editor? How did you get into this wacky business, and what made you want to dive in to begin with?
Oh my gosh, how long *have* I been an editor?? That requires MATH. I’ve been in the industry proper about 8 or so years now, editorial going on seven. Like any editor, at the age of nine I wanted to write The Great American Novel (what does that even mean these days?!), and my parents told me to pick a career that would make me more money. So clearly I picked the billion dollar a paycheck job of being an editor. Truthfully, in college “book editor” never seemed like a real job to me. One day I was sitting with a friend, sighed heavily, and said, “I just want to be a book editor.” And she said, “Well, why don’t you?” And for some reason that is when it clicked that yes, I *could* be a book editor. I just couldn’t do it where I was. So a week after graduation, I up and moved to NYC to do the NYU Summer Publishing Institute (which I highly recommend if you don’t know anyone in New York and want to work in publishing) and years later here I am.
2. What genres do you take on? How important is the genre, or will you take on something different just because it gives you the feelings?
I am all over the place in terms of what I acquire. Luckily, I work at a house that really allows us to pursue our interests. Right now I’m mostly looking for adult literary fiction, women’s fiction, young adult, and narrative non-fiction. But I would also still bring on a biography about a powerful female figure from the 18th Century if it struck my fancy. The thing is, though all editors have very specific tastes, we also have those random interests that you might not know about. I went through a Marie Antoinette obsession. I love non-fiction adventure books. You just never know. And I would definitely, beyond definitely even, take on a book if it gave me all of feelings. I often say I want a book that makes me feel the same was as a song by The National. And that is completely about feelings for me. We all know when something is just… special. And it’s those books that we have to take a chance on. And I love St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to do that on a regular basis.
3. Tell me a little bit about how snagging a brilliant editor such as yourself works. Do you only work with agented authors?
Admittedly, I do have one un-agented author (though when his next book rolls around, I do want to hook him up with a snazzy agent before I try to buy it). I think many writers think of agents as middlemen. And they are. But, there is always the thought, “Oh I should skip the middleman and go straight to the source. But by skipping that middleman, I think many writers are potentially skipping THE most important person to their career. An agent is there to really look out for you and to have the hard conversations that an author shouldn’t have to have, like, ‘will you be paying for the author to fly to this event?’ or ‘ we hate this cover, could we see some other options?’ You just need them. But as far as snagging me, your best bet is to have your fabulous agent send me, what is most likely, your even more fabulous book. 🙂
4. Do you have any stories that are now, “The one that got away”? If so, did it change the way you looked at manuscripts from then on?
The one that got away! There are so many! But the one that really stuck with me was Kathleen Alcott’s The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets. It is this absolutely gorgeous debut literary novel. I started it one day at lunch as a submission and read the entire thing at my desk. I rarely read at my desk. My email is always yelling at me and, let’s be honest, desk chairs, not so much for the comfort levels. That one stuck with me mostly because my readers didn’t read fast enough and the agent (the ever amazing Victoria Marini) had to go with a really fantastic offer she already had on the table (which is exactly what she should have done). So I never really got to compete for it properly. It’s kind of like when you REALLY like a boy and they probably don’t know it and then ask someone else out and then you feel all gipped because you are like, WHAT ABOUT ME even though you really didn’t do anything about it? Okay, maybe that doesn’t make sense at all. But I think you get the idea. It didn’t really change the way I look at a manuscript, but it was a great reminder that there is always that next manuscript that will make you drop EVERYTHING.
5. Give me a little plug on Armchair Shotgun. What is it, and why is it awesome?
Armchair/Shotgun is a literary magazine. It is awesome because it is a great excuse to drink whiskey. Kidding! Actually, those two things are facts, but it is so much more than that. A/S is a side project of mine that has recently been getting some wonderful attention, including a mention in The New York Times’ T Magazine back in February. And the reason I ended up signing on—as the publicist no less, I am convinced it is my intense need to use exclamation points—was because I really believe in the importance of having a magazine where your bio really does not matter. We have an anonymous submissions policy which recently garnered us a happy accident of an all-female issue. Some of our writers have been published everywhere, others we were privileged to be the first home for their work. There is just something ultimately so genuine behind why we do what we do at A/S, and that’s because writing, really amazing writing, *should* have a home. And so often it just doesn’t find it because a writer didn’t go to the right MFA program or they don’t know the right people.
6. Because it’s me, I am going to need to hear something embarrassing. Any moments of blushiness happen in your career? Bonus points if it involved pants falling down.
Nothing embarrassing unfortunately. Or, fortunately for me, I suppose! (Though I will keep you posted in the future should something REALLY embarrassing and exciting be worthy for a second interview.) 🙂 But, I will forever be known as “the editor who had a drink off with Brooks Sherman,” which a less festive editor might be embarrassed about. But, of course, me, I’m all, hey, bring it! So… there’s THAT.
Fizzy Note: I do indeed know who won this battle royale. I gotta say, just the fact that this existed at all is the greatest thing to ever happen. I will sell vital organs to be present for the rematch. Just sayin’.
NOW! Onto our super fantastic giveaway! Below you will find a Rafflecopter Widget. You can grab two entries by following either Vicki or Suzanne on Twitter. I will announce the winner on Tuesday morning! Remember, this is for an autographed ARC copy of THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY. This is some AWESOME bookage, kids!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck to you all!
Until next time,
Peace, Love and Editor Lurve!!!