My Mama's Chicken & Dumplings Mentor!
Delighted to oblige!
First question for you. Despite being an über busy vice-president and editor-in-chief at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, why did you decide to volunteer your time to mentor a children's book author from a diverse background, even without knowing if the manuscript you chose from the selections you received from The Word: A Storytelling Sanctuary would ultimately be publishable?
I have worked my whole career trying to bring diverse voices to children's books. As an industry we are working really hard to publish books written and illustrated by authors and illustrators from all walks of life. So when I heard about working as a mentor with The Word, a non-profit whose vision aligns with my own, I felt like it was something I wanted to be involved in. Actually, I wanted other Little Brown editors to get on board, too, and they were happy to do so. Aside from critiquing at SCBWI conferences, I was also really interested in seeing how a mentor-mentee relationship worked.
So very generous of your time, Alvina! Okay, here's question two. (Admittedly, this question makes me feel awkward since I'm way more comfortable highlighting the work of other kidlit authors and illustrators, but if I don't ask it, I won't have much of an interview, will I. So here goes.) Why did you choose to mentor me and my middle-grade manuscript Mama's Chicken & Dumplings?
I was presented with three choices. As I read the first fifty pages of each middle grade, I was looking for something that had the most potential. A manuscript I could help. I fell in love with the voice and the characters found in Mama's Chicken & Dumplings. I responded to it. Even if this manuscript is not the one that gets published, perhaps this kick will bring its author to the next manuscript that will.
Ha-Ha! I believe its author appreciates the editor's kick. Okay, here's my last question for you. Why would you encourage other editors in the children's book community to carve out time from their busy schedules to mentor writers from all walks of life?
If editors are serious about bringing a range of inclusive books for readers from diverse backgrounds, then there's nothing quite like getting involved in mentoring like this.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Alvina. But I really have to go now. I've got a manuscript to revise, and I'm in the midst of obsessing over chapter one.
Happy to stop by! But chapter one? Really? Do we need another kick?
A chocolate-covered truffle kick might do the trick.
The program offers each author an opportunity to gain knowledge from experienced acquiring editors. It does not, however, guarantee publication. It is free of cost to the authors due to the generosity of the volunteer editors. Learn more about The Word's 2019 mentorship program HERE and read a PW Bookshelf article about it HERE.