1) What do you like most about The Carnival of Lost Souls?
When I first read The Carnival of Lost Souls, I was struck by the spooky atmosphere of the forest of the dead. As soon as Jack sees the fog and trees and how the carriage is decorated and the clothes people wear, you know that this is a place where you shouldn’t let your guard down. Anything could come out of those trees! Also, I love “backstage” stories, so the descriptions of Jack’s performances have me riveted. Laura does a great job both describing what the show would look like to the dead audience, and also conveying Jack’s anxiety and the steps he goes through to combat it. That’s more than one favorite thing, but there’s lots to like!
2) There seems to be so much of fantasy on the shelves for middle grade readers. Is the fantasy genre still popular and what does a writer need to do to stand out?
Yes, fantasy is still very popular. I don’t think it’s ever going to out of style — it’s been a bedrock of children’s literature since it was first defined as a genre. The most successful or interesting fantasy authors are finding new ways to get into it, whether it’s a new setting, or a different type of magic, or a character that readers haven’t seen yet. And great writing is the foundation of any successful book, and always the first thing we look for (and the first thing readers respond to).
3) What is your dream manuscript? Anything you would like to see more of?
This is a tough question! It’s really hard to tell before reading, because a great-sounding pitch can be dismal in execution, and an ordinary pitch can shine with the right writer. I can say I’d like a steampunk Veronica Mars or something like that, but what’s really exciting is being surprised. I know people hate these vague answers, but the books we end up signing up cover such a wide range it’s hard to narrow down.
4) Do you have any past or current projects that you are working on that you would like to mention so we can get an idea of some of the books you enjoy?
Well, in addition to Carnival, this fall there’s Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes, Lisa Greenwald’s second book. It’s a really fun tween story about friendship and Valentine’s Day and fortune cookies and snow. And in the spring there’s Amy Ignatow’s second Popularity Papers book, The Long-Distance Dispatch. Lydia moves to England for six months and the girls have to keep in touch via their trusty notebook. There’s also One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin and debut graphic novel Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge, and much more — I already feel bad about leaving some out, so I’ll just stop now at four.