A Café Chat with Editor Irene Vázquez, by Laura Parnum

Levine Querido editor Irene Vázquez will be joining our SCBWI chapter at the Pocono Remix 2023 retreat this April at the Highlights Foundation. Irene will run a workshop titled Whose Line is it Anyway? Finding your Voice through Revision, provide critiques for those who have signed up, and participate in the Friday panel, Saturday pitch roundtable, and Sunday mock slush pile events. In preparation for this event, Laura Parnum had a virtual chat with Irene for EasternPennPoints. Here’s what they had to say.

A Café Chat with Editor Irene Vázquez, by Laura Parnum

Laura: Hi, Irene! Welcome to the EasternPennPoints virtual café. The great thing about a virtual café is you can “order” anything you want and pretend you are anywhere in the universe while we chat. It’s cold out, so right now I’m imagining sitting in a puffy armchair in front of a cozy fireplace, and I’m going to order an entire triple-layer chocolate cake. How about you?

Irene: Ooh, triple-layer cake sounds enticing. I’ll have a black coffee and a slice of tiramisu.

Laura: Let’s go back in time. I fell in love with writing when I was in third grade. When did your editorial passion spark?

Irene: My love for books goes back as far as I can remember. I’m an only child, and my family moved to a new city when I was seven years old, and books were so important to me during that pivotal time – I was definitely a Percy Jackson super-fan. But my love for editorial can probably be traced to college. I’d been writing for several years at that point, and I’d served in a couple of editorial roles on my high school newspaper, but serving as managing editor of my college’s feminist magazine is where my love for editing took flight. I grew to love working on a project from the early brainstorming phases, helping a writer hone in on their vision, giving them suggestions for things to read that I thought they might find fruitful, and serving as a sounding board for them as their writing progressed.

Laura: And now you’re an assistant editor at Levine Querido! What paths led you to your current position?

Irene: Our Em Querido list publishes high-quality children’s literature in translation from around the world, so my first interactions with LQ came in the form of writing reader’s reports on French graphic novels on a freelance basis (I speak and read French and Spanish). I really enjoyed working with Nick Thomas, and I began thinking about publishing as a potential career path. I interned for a summer just as LQ was publishing their inaugural list, and completely fell in love with the kind of books that they were putting out – high quality, diverse, imaginative, literary books. Arthur was kind enough to make me a return offer when I graduated from college, and I’ve been here ever since.

Laura: What’s the best part about working at Levine Querido?

Irene: Working with such a small team means that everyone has a hand in everything, which I really enjoy. We have such a collaborative ethos; everyone gives feedback on every jacket design, on each TikTok we make. I think that ethos shines through in every aspect of our process. I also love how imaginative this whole team is; Arthur really empowers us to follow where our creativity and imagination leads.

Laura: You’ll be joining us at our 2023 Pocono Retreat in April. Can you give us a sneak peak into what you’ll be presenting about?

Irene: Voice is an elusive element of one’s manuscript, but so many agents and authors say that they’re looking for a strong voice! My workshop will explore 1) what voice actually is and 2) how you can dive deep into your writing to figure out what that voice is and revise with that in mind.

Laura: Time for our Lightening Round! Let’s make it all about books! What’s a recent book that made you . . .

Laugh out loud: Control Freaks by J.E. Thomas

Cry happy tears: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Cry sad tears: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Stay up too late: Smile: A Memoir by Sarah Ruhl

Phone a friend (to recommend it): Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Laura: Thanks so much for chatting with me today! I’m looking forward to hanging out and learning so much from you at our Pocono Retreat!

Irene Vázquez is an Assistant Editor and Publicist at Levine Querido. Irene graduated from Yale with a BA in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and English. Irene read the Percy Jackson series out of order in elementary school by accident and has been passionate about children’s books ever since. Outside of LQ, Irene is a poet and journalist who likes drinking coffee, watching women’s basketball, and reminding folks that the South has something to say.

Pocono Remix 2023 Retreat Info

Our annual retreat is back and in-person! It will be a weekend of amazing faculty, craft talks, industry insights, and the chance to meet with fellow creators all set at the beautiful Highlights Foundation in Boyd’s Mills, PA.

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