I recently had the opportunity to invite Amanda Ramirez to chat with me at the café. Amanda is an assistant editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and will be on our faculty at the 2019 Pocono Retreat in April. Details for the retreat can be found here.
Laura: Welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Café, Amanda. Come in, sit down, and give us your beverage order.
Amanda: Can I get a, uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh . . . medium caramel mocha iced coffee with milk?
Laura: Absolutely! Any munchies?
Amanda: Can I have one of those flaky pastries with the chocolate bits in them that’s not exactly a croissant but it’s basically a croissant, only square? Pain au chocolat?
Laura: Coming right up! Now that we’re cozy in our booth, let’s find out all about you. Tell us a little bit about how you got to be an assistant editor at Simon & Schuster.
Amanda: My job kind of just fell into my lap, if you can believe that. I had been working as a Barnes & Noble bookseller for a while when a college friend of mine messaged me about an open editorial position in the children’s department at S&S, where she had been working in production at the time. So I applied and she forwarded my resume to HR and now here I am, somehow, two and a half years later.
Laura: What do you like to do in your free time?
Amanda: I spend a lot of time driving back and forth between my house on Long Island and my old college town in New Jersey, because my best friend lives there, so that takes up a good chunk of time. We don’t even really do anything when I get there—most times we just watch YouTube videos and take ages trying to decide where we want to go for dinner.
I’m also always trying to find a new hands-on hobby. Currently, it’s mediocre ice skating, but during the summer it’s usually hiking or bike riding. I like to use my free time to unwind, so I try really hard not to do publishing-related things, unless I’m pleasure-reading.
Laura: Tell us about a soon-to-be-released title that you can’t wait for the world to read.
Amanda: Can I talk about two? I’m gonna talk about two and nobody can stop me.
Neither of these are “soon-to-be released” because publishing takes ages, but my first acquisition What if a Fish by Anika Fajardo is due out in Summer 2020. It’s a generational middle grade about a young boy named Edward “Little Eddie” Aguado who ends up spending the summer in Colombia with his half-brother Eduardo “Big Eddie” Aguado and his Abuela. It’s a story of family, identity, and all the things you can find at the end of a fishing line.
The second is tentatively titled Pepper Blouse and the Wicked Will by Briana McDonald, which is a middle-grade adventure about amateur sleuth Pepper Blouse and her summer spent solving the mystery of her great aunt’s suspicious death, and the mystery of her own developing feelings for girls. This one is due to pub fall 2020.
I’m super excited about both of these. They represent exactly what I love about books; they’re stories that reflect marginalized voices in situations that don’t revolve around their diversity, but instead highlight their differences so that young readers can see themselves as the heroes.
Laura: I saw on your wish list that you are interested in superhero stories. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Amanda: I’m consistently torn between persuasion and teleportation, because both are extremely useful, but one is decidedly cooler than the other.
Laura: Okay, are you ready for our lightning round? What’s the last book that made you . . .
Laugh out loud: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Sob out loud: Dear Sister by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Joe Bluhm
Jump up and down: Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Stay up past your bedtime: Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
Laura: Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ll be presenting at the SCBWI Pocono Retreat?
Amanda: I will actually be doing an “ASK US ANYTHING: An Editor and an Agent” Q&A with Jenny Herrera from the David Black Agency! Conference goers will be able to ask us anything they’d like to know about what it takes to get published.
Laura: Thanks so much for stopping by the Eastern Penn Points Café. We can’t wait to see you in person at the Pocono Retreat.
Amanda: Thank you for having me! I can’t wait for the Pocono Retreat—it’s gonna be a blast!
Amanda Isabel Ramirez is an Assistant Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and has worked with award-winning authors such as Neal Shusterman, Katherine Rundell, Tim Federle, and Andrew Smith. She is passionate about diverse, commercial literature from humorous YA to fanciful middle-grade adventures, as well as graphic novels. Prior to S&S, she was an editor at The Literary Review, a children’s bookseller, and a staff writer for multiple online lifestyle outlets. A native, Nuyorican Brooklynite, she currently lives on Long Island and takes a lot of naps. Learn more about what Amanda is looking for on Twitter: @AmandaIsA_Ram or on her website: amandaisabelramirez.com, and you can follow her on Instagram: @AmandaIsA_Ram