Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Conference Faculty Interview: Stephanie Pitts

By Holly Huckeba
March is flying by, and as we collectively gird our loins for merciless clocks that leap forward this weekend, it feels like a good time to remind everyone about our Saturday deadline for early bird registration. Seats are going fast, and after March 11th, the price goes up by $50, so get your worm today!

And now, welcome to another edition of Bloomapalooza, where we talk up everything #SCBWIWWA17!

Another one of our fantastic faculty for the conference is Stephanie Pitts, editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Pitts works primarily on picture books and middle grade novels. She once plucked a darling picture book manuscript, Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, out of the slush pile. Talk about winning the jackpot! Sophie’s Squash published to four starred reviews and was named an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Book.

Holly: Stephanie, welcome! We’re thrilled you’re offering attendees a chance to participate in your juicy intensive workshop, “Writing Irresistable Picture Books,” and intriguing breakout session, “Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction.”

Stephanie: Thanks! Glad to help.

Holly: So, if I were a fly on the wall, what books might I spy on your nightstand? (Not implying anything about your housekeeping skills here.)
Stephanie: Right now I’m reading a young adult historical romance about Alexander Hamilton, Alex and Elisa, due out in Fall 2017. I’m also reading a voicy middle grade novel by Deborah Wilde, A Little Bird That Sings that gently leaks of greatness!

Holly: What are some of your favorite books?
Stephanie: I prefer books where a character is unique and how they see the world sets them apart. My current favorites include Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts; If You Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t, by Elise Parsley; Snip, Snap Alligator!, by Mara Bergman.

Holly: Hm, I’m sensing an alligator theme here. Or is it just me? Well, anyway, is there anything specific on your wish list?
Stephanie: I’m looking for funny or sweet picture books with strong, character-based narratives; historical biographies; literary middle grade as well as young adult – this has a special place in my heart. I’d love to work on a literary graphic novel like This One Summer or Roller Girl.

Holly: How did you become an editor?
Stephanie: The thing that sparked my interest was reading to kids when I taught 1st grade. I asked myself: do I want to write or do I want to edit? Writing is REALLY hard, so I focused on pursuing my editorial career. Maybe someday I will try writing – I know it takes considerable effort!

Holly: Anything you’d like to share with attendees about your non-editor life?

Stephanie: I like to travel! I’ve traveled to most South American countries, and, while there, went backpacking alone. I studied for a year in Argentina, and I spent a month in Guatemala and Mexico. I’ve also traveled to Asia and the Middle East. I do love indigenous cultures and people. Not surprisingly, I like books that take place in other countries and cultures!

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