Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Conference Series- Faculty Q & A with Sarah Davies

It's just under a month before our 20th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference! To get you even more excited and familiar with the faculty, we're going to start sharing the Faculty Interview Questions & Answers! Part of the fun of being the Chinook Update Editor was coming up with these questions (and getting to see the diverse answers). Now it's time to share! First up is Sarah Davies, an agent with Greenhouse Literary Agency. You can check out Sarah's Conference bio here.

What is the best/worst advice you were given when you started in children's literature?
I started so long ago I honestly can’t remember! Back then it was a completely different world for children’s books – small money, small expectations, and very much about ‘nice girls sitting in a corner publishing kiddies’ books’. But that sorted the sheep from the goats in terms of those who really cared about this area of the business. Now it’s really cool to be in the children’s/YA industry. Which doesn’t answer the question, but shows how far we’ve come!

What advice would you give now to others?
Whatever area of the business you’re in – writing, publishing or agenting – I would say this: learn your business, learn your craft, pay your dues and always treat people with integrity. Your reputation, your relationships, the care you bring to your work are all vital and will come back to you, in whatever way.

What was your favorite book as a child? And now?
I liked the English classics like TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN and THE SECRET GARDEN (a lot of gardens, I guess). But it was THE LORD OF THE RINGS that was transformative for me.

As you know, those who are in children's literature tend to have lengthy discussions on the important topic of snacks (usually a baked good). What's your favorite snack?
I love cake but try to steer off. My authors clubbed together at Christmas and gave me a year’s membership of a fruit club. Which means that every month I get an amazing box of perfect fruits in season delivered to my door; this month it’s honeybells! This means that every month I’m reminded about a) the identity of the Greenhouse and its writing ‘fruits’ and b) my wonderful, generous authors. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Attendees are often nervous to meet you at a conference. What, if anything, makes you nervous about being part of the faculty?
I must be honest, I love being on a stage, I love public speaking, I thoroughly enjoy getting to know new people so faculties are all good for me. The only thing I don’t like is being trapped in a corner listening to an hour-long pitch about a book that’s completely out of the zone I represent – especially if the writer delivering the pitch is a bit wild-eyed and scary!

What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
I love the strategy, the chess game of managing someone’s career, and I love the discovery of something new and special. Like every agent I don’t relish delivering bad news, and at times I find the inundation hard to deal with; if you are literally open to all submissions all the time, it can be very hard to take a break and keep your sanity.

What do you most want our attendees to know about you?
That’s a tough one! Professionally, agenting and running the Greenhouse is the pinnacle of my career, and I can say that despite having been a publisher for more than 25 years. Personally, it might amuse people to know I used to have my own band and performed a lot as a singer/songwriter (see above answer about enjoying being on stage and behind a mic!). I love dogs, walking in wild and windy places, good cheese, coffee shops, taking photographs, my 24-year-old twin boys – and I really enjoy fashion, finding ways to make it work on a budget. (In London right now it’s all about harem pants . . .)

Great information and answers from Sarah! Here's a post that is directly related to Sarah's workshop session "From Ordinary to Extraordinary". A good preview to check out! Make sure you visit the event website to get your name on the waiting list for the conference (registration is full).

1 comment:

Greg Pincus said...

You know, I still hear folks talking about Sarah's breakout session two years ago at the SCBWI summer conference - it was that good. Y'all are lucky to have a chance to hear her.