3 S.R. Johannes: Part 2 - Cheryl Klein (Second Sight Giveaway)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Part 2 - Cheryl Klein (Second Sight Giveaway)

Last week, Cheryl Klein stopped by to talk about her new book, Second Sight, An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults.

Part 1 aired last Thursday.

This week, in Part 2, Cheryl talks more about the editing side of her career.

Let's get started.

Cheryl, in addition what are the top 3 reasons you reject a book?

Not necessarily in order:

1. I don’t find the characters or their conflicts all that interesting.

2. The narrative voice annoys me, and therefore I don’t want to spend two years listening to it. (Most likely because of broadcasting, as above.)

3. It isn’t something that I think I can publish effectively, either because I don’t think it’s very good, or because there are a lot of books like it already in the market, or because it’s not really an Arthur A. Levine Books type of book (meaning it will do better published as something other than a literary hardcover book).

Can you give us an idea of day in the life of Cheryl Klein?

I get up between 7 and 8, do all the typical morning stuff, take the B train from my neighborhood in Brooklyn to the Broadway-Lafayette stop in Manhattan, and arrive at the office by 9:30, where I have a cup of tea and check my e-mail. I deal with any fires there, then try to turn to the first thing on my to-do list—whether it’s negotiating a contract (which can involve a lot of talking to other departments) or writing flap copy or preparing for a presentation or line-editing a manuscript or examining proofs.

The day then alternates among those tasks, attending meetings, and continuing to deal with what comes in from our production department or over the phone or e-mail—though when I’m in the middle of a novel line-edit, that tends to subsume everything else for me, because I find the work so interesting and absorbing, and because line-edits take a while.

The last thing I do every night at work is write my to-do list for the next day, so that I have my priorities set and ready to go the next morning.

There are so many books on writing out there. What is your favorite book on plot? How about voice? (besides your own of course :)

My favorite book on voice, by far (and character, too), is Orson Scott Card’s Characters and Viewpoint.

The book on plot from which I’ve learned the most is Aristotle’s Poetics, which I read for the first time in college, but I was really lucky to have a great professor teaching me the significance of all the jargony theoretical statements in the book (the edition we read, anyway).

I also like The Fiction Editor by Thomas McCormack, which is also jargony, but says some really useful things about the larger points toward which plots should work.

What is the one piece of advice you would give a writer who keeps getting so close but doesn't make it?

Figure out what (1) your two greatest writerly strengths, (2) your favorite subject to read about, and (3) your two biggest weaknesses as a writer are.

Develop (do not yet start actually writing) a book that uses (1) to portray (2) and minimize (3). For instance, if you know your strengths are awesome characters and dialogue, and your favorite subject is romance, but you’re terrible at plotting and creating tension, come up with your awesome characters, but put them in a simple story that doesn’t involve a lot of tension—a love story with a straightforward central conflict that lets the characters do their thing.

Then get help with (3) to improve it as much as you can before you dive in; then write the book and revise it.

And have fun. When writers have fun, readers do too.

In the spirit of Actor's Studio, here a few questions for you. We'll call it Editors's Studio. First, what is your favorite word?

My boyfriend will tell you the word I say the most is “Meh” or “Feh.” The word whose sound I like the most . . . I’ve always been fond of “spackle.”

Wait, is that a word? :) Okay, how about the word you hate the most?

Hmm. Soundwise, I think I must have blocked this offending word from my mind, because I can’t think of one! Meaningwise, “failure.”

What is your favorite thing to do in your personal time (you cant say reading! :)

I love cooking and baking—the absorption of putting all these ingredients together in just the right quantities, the ability to listen to music or NPR while I work, the deliciousness that results, the pleasure of serving it to others (sometimes!) and eating it.

And lastly, what profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

In the realm of reality, I think I really would enjoy being a professional baker. In fantasy, I’d love to sing and dance in a Broadway musical. Both of those professions are about being part of a community and making other people happy through your work, and those are two of my greatest satisfactions in being an editor, too.

Thanks Cheryl!

Comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Second Sight by Cheryl Klein.


Shannon O'Donnell said...

After being gone for a week for a funeral, I have some major catching up to do. Both parts of your Cheryl Klein interviews are wonderful, Shelli--so, so much great information. I am definitely going to buy a copy of her book. :-)

storyqueen said...

Great interview. I am so excited to read this book.

Don't you think Cheryl looks like a grown up Alice in Wonderland in her photo?

Well done!


Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban said...

Great interview.

Cheryl's love of books and her job comes through.

Christine L. Arnold said...

Great interview! Now off to the library to look into those books!

Jeanne Ryan (Serenissima) said...

I really enjoyed this interview. Thanks to both of you!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. I love Cheryl's suggestions for the writer who is close but not quite making it.

Don't enter me for the contest. I contributed to Cheryl's Kickstarter campaign and got my book. It just came in the mail. I can't wait to read it.

Tracey Neithercott said...

Loved this interview. I think I might start saying "feh." Somehow it sounds kind of cool. :)

Kerri Cuev said...

Thanks for the great interview!

A Broadway musical sounds fun!

Liesl Shurtliff said...

Great interview! Thanks!

Rachel Searles said...

Great interview! I'll definitely be checking out her book.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Wonderful interview, Cheryl. Lots of great advice. Sounds like a great book. I'd love to win a copy.

Unknown said...

Love the favorite writing book choices, those are definitely one's I can use for future reference. There is no such thing as too many!

Happy Monday!

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

Another great interview :) I recently heard about Cheryl's book through an SCBWI thing and have been dying to check it out. And I absolutely love the advice about (1), (2) & (3)!

Kate Higgins said...

Great interview, I always read interviews with Cheryl K. and always love them.
And I can't wait to read her book!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the advice about 1,2,3! That's brilliant :)

Cooking & baking are some of favourite things to do as well :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Fantastic interview, Shelli

Cheryl is great to give us 'sight' into the editing world.

What a great book for every author to have.


Catherine Denton said...

Wonderful interview. And I also love the word spackle!

(I agree with StoryQueen Shelley, she looks like a grown Alice)
My Blog

Jessie Oliveros said...

Great interview! I'm bummed because I moved out of Kansas just before Cheryl Klein is coming to do a Master Class with KS SCBWI. :(

Gail said...

How much better can it get than a loooong interview with the fabulous Cheryl Klein! Good going, Shelli!
And you know, I can relate to that sing-and-dance-on-Broadway dram!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the kind comments, everyone! I hope you enjoy the book.

MotherReader said...

Great interview! Looking forward to reading the book! Sign me up.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I Must. Have. This. Book.

Not to scare you or anything, but really. I must.

(Great interview, Shelli. I like the word spackle, too. Such a fun word for such a mundane job.)

Jennifer said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Julie Hedlund said...

Are we going to see the Cheryl Klein cookbook next? :-)

Great post!

Janet Johnson said...

This second part was SO fun! And wow, Poetics by Aristotle. I'm impressed. :)

I would love to win Cheryl's book.

rjljohnson.janet (at) gmail(dot)com

paula said...

Baking sounds a lot like writing--putting the right ingredients together to make something satisfying and craving for more. Thanks for a great interview. Off to check out the books.

Andrea Mack said...

I love the advice about choosing a project that will maximize your writing strengths and then minimize your weaknesses (and working on your weaknesses).