Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meet Alix Reid! [Part 2]

Alix Reid, the new editorial director of Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab, is back on the blog to answer more questions, this time talking about her favorite books, hobbies, and what she'd be if she wasn't an editor. (In case you missed it, you can find the first round of Q&A here.)

1. What were your favorite books as a kid? What are some favorite books you’ve read recently?

I was (and still am) an avid re-reader and some of the books that I read over and over again as a kid included Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L’Engle, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Homecoming by Cynthia Voight, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken. And, of course, the Anne of Green Gables and Little House books.

I have so many recent favorites! Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Clariel by Garth Nix, The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (I came late to this amazing series), The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, and Ricky Yancy’s Monstrumologist series. My favorite adult book right now is Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. As I’ve grown older, as might be clear from this list, I’ve been gravitating toward science fiction and fantasy.

2. Say you’re trapped on a desert island—what 5 books would you want with you?

I’ve never read The Inferno, though I’ve started it about fifteen times, so this would be a great opportunity to finally settle down with it. Jane Eyre would definitely be on my list; I read it about once a year. Maybe the Complete Oxford English Dictionary; that probably sounds pretentious, but in graduate school I studied Anglo-Saxon and Italian, as well as Chaucer, and I love seeing how languages evolve over time and cross over into each other. I think I’d have to put Cynthia Voight’s Homecoming on the list, because it is one of the most beautiful and satisfying books of all time. For my last book, I might pick The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, but I’m not entirely sure about that.

3. Tell us about Chicago. What draws you to the city?

I never thought I’d leave Manhattan, where I grew up, but when my husband got a job in Chicago he couldn’t turn down, and we were in the process of adopting our wonderful daughter, it was an opportunity we had to take. I love the friendliness of the city—strangers actually say hello to each other, which took some getting used to. The lake is beautiful, and the sculptures and architecture are breathtaking. Although we live in Oak Park now (home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and replete with original Wright houses), we love going into the city to visit the museums and try out the many new restaurants.

4. If you weren’t an editor, you’d be a…

When I went to graduate school, I was planning to become a professor of English literature. I did teach some graduate level courses in creative writing and the history of publishing, but found I really didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I’d expected. However, I’ve been working one-on-one with second graders in my daughter’s class, helping them write stories and edit them, so I could see tutoring children as an alternative career. But I love being an editor, so it’s hard to imagine doing anything else!

5. Speaking of things other than editing, what are your hobbies?

Spending time with my daughter and husband, of course. I also have a big, energetic golden retriever who loves long walks. I enjoy knitting scarves, although I’m running out of people to give them to, and I’ve recently started doing barre classes. And I like to obsess about the Game of Thrones TV series.

Hoss, Alix's golden retriever: "He's a goofball."

Thanks, Alix!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Meet Alix Reid! [Part 1]

We'd like to introduce the new Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab editorial director, Alix Reid! She officially started last week and was kind enough to agree to answer some questions for us. We're posting part 1 (about her editing experience and background) today; part two (about her favorite books, hobbies, and life in Chicago) will go up next week.

1.      First, give us a bio!

From the moment I could read, I always had my head in a book, and imagined I would be the next E. B. White or E. L. Konigsburg. But after earning an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Williams College, I started working as a children’s book editor at Harper & Row (now HarperCollins) and realized this was my true calling. I began my career as an editorial assistant, and during fourteen years at Harper worked my way up to become editorial director and vice president. I’ve also earned graduate degrees from Michigan and Harvard, and worked as a freelance children’s book editor while raising my daughter in Chicago.

2.      How did you get into editing?

After I graduated, I opened up the newspaper to look for a job in editing. There were dozens of jobs but my eye immediately gravitated to the editorial assistant job at Harper. Through my late teens and twenties, my secret passion was to read middle grade and young adult novels, and I couldn’t believe there was actually a job where I could edit these books! I thought I bombed the interview—I was so nervous I had to take the typing test twice—but I must have done something right, since I was offered the job the next day. I started working first for the legendary Marilyn Kriney, and then for Kate Morgan Jackson, who has been the editor-in-chief for over a decade.

3.      Name some notable books that you’ve edited.

My very first acquisition was Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted. I loved the novel from the first, and remember running into Kate’s office saying we had to acquire the book right away. It went on to win the Newbery Honor and remains one of my favorite books of all time. I also edited Louise Rennison’s hilarious Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging series about the irrepressible Georgia Nicolson; the first book in the series won a Michael Printz Honor Award. That said, there are so many books I worked on that hold a special place in my heart: Julianna Baggott’s The Anybodies (written under the name N. E. Bode), Cynthia Rylant’s God Went to Beauty School, and A. M. Jenkins’s Out of Order and Damage. What I love about all the books I’ve edited is not only that they’re wonderfully written, but that they feel fresh and different, and have something important to say to their audience.

4.      What have been some of your favorite projects?

During my tenure at HarperCollins, I took on the role of director of foreign acquisitions. This meant I got to read the wonderful books being published in the UK (and elsewhere, but mostly the UK) and introduce them to a US audience. It was so exciting to meet my UK counterparts and I’m particularly proud of having acquired the Molly Moon series by Georgia Byng and The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver.

5.      What else would you like Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab readers to know?

One of the things I’m so excited about in joining the Carolrhoda team is their commitment to publishing only the best books. They keep their list small and no book is considered “mid-list.” Each author is nurtured not only by his or her editor, but also by the design team, the publicity and marketing team, our foreign rights director—essentially, the whole company helps publish each book. In addition, Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab have embraced working with new authors and publishing books that break boundaries—no topic is off limits. This philosophy speaks deeply to me, and I look forward to growing the list and staying true to its mission.