Sunday, April 2, 2017

Conference Faculty Interview: Melissa Manlove

We are less than a week away from our spring conference and the air is a-flutter with cherry blossoms and antici..................pation! Let's all keep calm, carry on, and learn a little something about Chronicle Editor, Melissa Manlove.

By guest Chinook contributor and author, Sarah Jane Marsh.

Sarah: As a child, what book or series captured your imagination?

Melissa: Among my favorites were a couple of books that few people remember: 
Squawk to the Moon, Little Goose (illustrated by the brilliant Barbara Cooney, who most people know better for her work in Miss Rumphius) and Ronia the Robber’s Daughter (translated by Astrid Lindgren, who most know better for her Pippi Longstocking series).

Sarah: In addition to your editorial position at Chronicle Books, you also work as a bookseller. Have you encountered any surprising reactions by customers to your books, or the books of others?

Melissa: Lots of them! Being a bookseller is an education in the many, many, many ways of interacting with books. Adults who don’t want talking animals… children who would rather lick the books… I remember being surprised how many people couldn’t see the lizard on the cover of Absolutely Not by Matthew McElligott. But the majority of the reactions are variations on delight, which is one of the things that makes children’s books so satisfying to share.

Sarah: You have a lovely way of illuminating different layers of a story, which you share in your Chronicle blog and in your workshops. What aspect of craftsmanship are you looking forward to discussing at our conference?

Melissa: I’ll be talking about voice in picture books and analyzing some of my favorites for the choices and strategies the author employed, and I’ll also be talking about narrative nonfiction and how writers make their own enthusiasm for a topic infectious and compelling.

Sarah: In another interview, you said that “questions are among the editor’s most powerful tools.” Could you share a question that you find effective as a prompt for revision?

Melissa: I don’t think I repeat questions much, actually. Each book is on its own journey, and the questions I ask are very specific to each book. But what I mean is that while editors need a strong vision for each book, I want to invite the people I work with to have better ideas than I do, to argue, to question, to experiment. The joy of the creative process of making a book is in the way we’re all making it up as we go along.

Sarah: Lastly, I read that you know all the lyrics to theme song of The Muppet Show. In your expert opinion, which made that show so awesome?

Melissa: Jim Henson was a genius. His sense of timing, his sense of humor, and his instinct for what makes stories simultaneously surprising and satisfying are still teaching me things. And while he could get very intellectual about his work, he never forgot to honor the simple pleasure of silliness.

Melissa Manlove is an Editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She has been with Chronicle for 12 years. Her acquisitions tend to be all ages in nonfiction; ages 0-8 for fiction. When acquiring, she looks for fresh takes on familiar topics as well as the new and unusual. An effective approach and strong, graceful writing are important to her. She has 17 years of children’s bookselling experience.

No comments: