A Cafe Chat with Editor and Author Leila Sales, by Lindsay Bandy

 

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Today, we have the privilege of hosting the lovely and entertaining author AND editor, Leila Sales! Leila is an editor at Viking, a humor writer, and a YA novelist. You can learn more about Leila and her books by visiting her web site, or by attending the 2016 Pocono Retreat! Not registered yet? There’s still time!

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Lindsay: Hi there, Leila, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our comfy booth, what can we get you to drink? 

Leila: A hot chocolate, please.

Lindsay: And something to snack on? 

Leila: More chocolate, thanks!

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Lindsay: You’ve come to the right place. We’re thrilled to have you as a faculty member at our upcoming Pocono Retreat! Your workshop, The Logic of Crafting a Story, looks wonderful. Who should sign up for this workshop? 

Leila: Anyone who wants to learn more about the craft of writing a book. We’re going to talk about how to structure a story, what questions you can ask yourself to figure out what happens next, what your characters’ back stories are, and what their arcs need to be. This workshop would be helpful if you’re in the early stages of a new project and trying to figure out how to develop the plot and characters, and it would be helpful if you have a complete draft and are looking for ways to think about revising it. This workshop is best for writers of middle grade and young adult fiction, but on a smaller scale would also have some value for picture book and nonfiction writers.

Lindsay: I know you really enjoy music! If you had to name a theme song for your writing life, what would it be? 

Leila: Oh, gosh, there are so many… Probably “Time to Pretend,” by MGMT. Or “Dancing in the Dark,” by Bruce Springsteen.

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Lindsay: You have a unique perspective, being both an author AND an editor. What’s the best part about being on both sides of that table? What’s one of the more challenging aspects? 

Leila: The best part is getting to spend so much of my life surrounded by stories, and by people who love books as much as I do. I get inspiration for each job from the other. A more challenging part is, as you might expect, just time management and motivation: it’s hard to balance two jobs no matter how much you love them both.

 

So, book lover to book lover, what was the last book you read that made you….

LOL How to Weep in Public, by Jacqueline Novak

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Cry It’s not out yet, but it’s a novel I’m editing called Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined, by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Wish you had written it yourself Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

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Stay up way past your bedtime Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

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As an editor, what is one thing that always grabs your attention in a….

Picture book manuscript? An unexpected ending! The sense that I have to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen.

MG novel? Legitimately funny writing: not something that’s trying to be “wacky,” but a voice that actually makes me laugh.

YA novel? An unusual setting: something outside of a stereotypical middle-class suburban American high school.

And on the flip side, what always turns you off in a….

PB manuscript? A story where the grown-ups solve the conflict; where all the main character really needs is some advice from a well-meaning older relative.

MG novel? An adventure that’s crazy and high-stakes, but features cookie-cutter, two-dimensional characters who experience no growth as a result of the plot.

YA novel? Explicit sexuality or drug use.

 

Lindsay: Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us, Leila! Take a brownie for the road…we’ll see you in a few weeks in the Poconos!

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