Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Conference Series- Faculty Q & A with Justin Chanda

Happy Wednesday! The day after tomorrow the fun begins for our 20th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference! I know you're all as excited as I am to be part of this conference! Here's another Faculty Q & A- this time with Justin Chanda. Justin is on the Editorial and Art Director Faculty. You can read his Conference bio here.

What is the best and worst advice you were given when you started in publishing?
The best advice? Don’t do this if you are in it for the money… because at the end of the day… there’s not much money. Do this if you love kids books.

Worst advice? It was from someone outside the industry who told me children’s TV (which I was doing) was the same as children’s books. Um… no.

What were your favorite books as a child? And now?
I have to confess that I do not remember reading picture books as a kid. I am sure that I did. I do not want to accuse my parents of bad parenting. I just do not remember them. Which is ironic because as much as I love working on, editing and publishing Teen and Middle Grade I have this big, big soft spot in my dark heart for the picture book.

The book I remember the most and that changed my perception of what a book could be BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katharine Paterson. I read that in grade school and everything was different after that.

If you hadn't gone into publishing, you might have been an...
Theatre Director. Or a Food Critic. Or both at the same time.

What do you most want our attendees to know about you?
That I am honest and straightforward in my critiques and in my advice. I love to talk about books and the industry. I love this industry. I love books. But I am also very much a realist. There is a business aspect to this business, and that needs to play a part in the final decisions that I make and the books that my staff acquires. Which does not mean I want to spend every waking moment talking about money and the marketplace. And it does not mean that we do not acquire passion projects in my imprints. We do all the time. It DOES mean that there always has to be a balance. I have a staff who depends on me to keep the lights on which needs to be weighed with the responsibilities (and the joys) of bringing quality books to kids of all ages.

What's your favorite snack?
That I shouldn’t eat? Oh my, it’s sour patch kids

That I should eat? I have become VERY fond of kale chips these days. No joke.

What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
What I like most is the work. The fact that at the end of the day we produce books for kids. How amazing is that? The fact that I get to publish so many books, but also still EDIT some. Very cool, indeed.

And my staff. I work with the absolute best people in the business. I have no doubt about that!

I like the hours the least. And the stress. Oddly enough when I first started I thought big decisions would be made sitting on plush, comfy carpets while playing with fluffy bunny and duckie stuffed animals. Sadly, I work in an office, and even though our doors are painted BRIGHT colors, and there is artwork everywhere and clutter everywhere else… there are days when it is very clear I work a desk job.

Great answers from Justin! (I love the answer to what he wants attendees to know about him- good insight). Make sure you tune in tomorrow for another exciting Faculty Q & A!!

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