I’m so happy to introduce Kate Prosswimmer, our faculty editor for this year’s Pocono Retreat at the Highlights Foundation, May 4-6! Even though the manuscript critique deadline has passed, there is still room for you at the retreat. So sip some tea with me and Kate (sorry, we’re keeping the chocolate to ourselves), then hop on over to our registration page to take part in her breakout session (see below for details)!
Lindsay: Hi there, Kate, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our comfy booth, what can we get you to drink?
Kate: Hi Lindsay! Thanks for the warm welcome! I’ll take an earl gray tea with milk and sugar, please 🙂
Lindsay: And a munchie?
Kate: I’ll never say no to a chocolate croissant!
Lindsay: Sure! And ooo, have you ever tried chocolating up the plain ones with a nice, thick layer of Nutella? So. Yum. While we wait for our tea and croissants, let’s talk books! Book lover to book lover, tell me the last book that made you….
Laugh out loud: Switched by Jen Calonita
Cry: After Zero by Christina Collins (I’m cheating with this one because it’s a book I edited that isn’t coming out until September, but it’s SO GOOD that I couldn’t resist including!)
Stay up waaaay past your bedtime: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
Change: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Go all warm and fuzzy: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Lindsay: As an editor, you work with quite a variety of books, from baby board books to daring YA novels. Can you tell us what consistently catches your attention in…..
Picture books: funny, quirky characters and stories (like Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and Not Quite Narwhal)
Middle grade novels: contemporary, voice-driven stories (like The Thing About Jellyfish) and stories that give you an incredible sense of place (like Orphan Island and Beyond the Bright Sea)
YA fiction: Stories that feature neurodiversity, have deeply sweet romances that don’t feel cliché, and tackle tough topics in a way that feels nuanced (The Female of the Species is one of my favorite examples of this).
Lindsay: Any consistent turn-offs or pet peeves in….
Picture books: I’m not really into saccharine stories or stories that feel overly familiar. I also don’t like when there’s too much story in a picture book. It’s important to let the text breathe and to let the art do a lot of the talking.
Middle grade novels: I’m going to be a rebel and answer MG and YA together. It’s an immediate turnoff when a story relies too heavily on common tropes. Individuality is very important when it comes to competing for attention in a crowded marketplace. This one really goes without saying, but it’s an immediate turnoff when a story enforces negative stereotypes. It’s also very difficult to get the voice right for both MG and YA (but especially for MG), so an inauthentic-sounding voice is pretty much the kiss of death for me when I’m reading a manuscript or a published book.
Lindsay: If you could single-handedly create a trend in KidLit, what would it be?
Kate: Oooh that’s a tough one. I will selfishly say steampunk because I’m personally a huge fan 🙂
Lindsay: Do you work with illustrators as well as authors?
Kate: The answer to that isn’t a clear-cut yes or no, as we have a fantastic art team here at Sourcebooks that typically works directly with the illustrators. However, we’re constantly in conversation about art direction during all stages of the bookmaking process (especially when it comes to picture books) so in a sense I do get to work with illustrators, just not directly!
Lindsay: Sourcebooks is an indie press that has really grown over the last 30 years, from an upstairs bedroom in Illinois into a highly successful, award-winning publisher. Can you tell us what makes Sourcebooks so special?
Kate: It’s a pretty amazing story, isn’t it? We consider ourselves to be scrappy at Sourcebooks – even young, scrappy, and hungry, if I can quote a certain national treasure who goes by the name of Lin Manuel Miranda. But I think there are three key elements that contribute to Sourcebooks’ success. The first is that we truly believe that books change lives. We believe deeply that what we publish matters, and we bring that passion to every part of the publishing process. Secondly, we believe in publishing authors, not books. We strongly prefer to focus on building long-lasting careers for our authors rather than one-off successes. Lastly, we have a “no book left behind” policy. Every book we publish gets attention and care from the marketing and publicity departments, which isn’t always the case at other houses. If we go after a book, it’s because we believe in it and we want to get it into the hands of the consumers whose lives it has the potential to change. We do what we can to make that happen!
Lindsay: Can you give us a little sneak peek into what you’ll be sharing with us in the Poconos?
Kate: Absolutely! *rubs hands together* I’m pretty thrilled to be talking about using the intersection between plot development and character development to really make your story sing! The only other thing I will say is that there will be charts. Many charts.
Lindsay: Alright, Kate, take one last bite and prepare yourself for Flash Favorites! This is all you. Ready? Set? Tell us your favorite….
Netflix binge (as of right now, last night!): Queer Eye!!! If you haven’t seen it, watch it now.
Book in middle school: The Golden Compass
Place to walk your dog: The boardwalk at the Jersey Shore
Fictional love interest or couple: I’m sticking with the TV theme and choosing Jim and Pam from The Office because obviously.
Font: I’m not a big font person so I’m not sure I have a favorite! Maybe Baskerville because it gives me Sherlock Holmes vibes?
Type of shoe: ankle boots – they’re the perfect combination of comfy and fashionable!
Lindsay: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kate! We’re looking forward to meeting you in May!
Kate: Thank YOU! It’s been a true pleasure. Can’t wait to meet everyone!
I really love how Kate described Sourcebooks! I can’t wait to meet her at the retreat and learn more!