Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you had a fantastic weekend. I'm on my way home from visiting my mom and will visit your blog later today.

Today I'm excited to have a guest post with debut author Mackenzi Lee and her editor at Harper Collins, Laurel Symonds.

Here's a blurb of Mackenzi's fantastic sounding book, THIS MONSTROUS THING, from Goodreads:

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Now here's Mackenzi and Laurel! FYI, the questions to Mackenzi are from me and then Mackenzi interviews Laurel.

1. What surprised you most about working with your editor and why?

ML: Honestly, the most surprising thing about working with my editor, Laurel Symonds at Katherine Tegen Books, was that someone could love my book as much as I did! From our first call, I was so astonished by how much Laurel cared about my book. And, because this was my debut, it was doubly astonishing that a real life editor who worked in real life publishing liked an idea I once thought was too weird to write. Mostly up to this point it’s been nothing but rejection from people who know what they’re talking about.

2. It seems essential to have your editor love your book. What was a challenge you had working with your editor and what did you learn from it?

ML: Working with an editor in any capacity is a unique challenge because you have to marry your vision
for the book with someone else’s. I was really lucky in that Laurel and I were very on the same page from the beginning, and both of us had a very similar vision for This Monstrous Thing, where it should go, and how to make it better. Working with her was actually really easy and challenge free (and I’m not just saying that!) because of how well she understood the book and my objectives in writing it.

3. That's great Laurel and you had the same vision for your book. What advice do you have for other debut authors who may be starting to work with their editor?

ML: I would tell other debut authors that they are allowed to fight for the things that are important to them and their manuscript. When I first started working with my agent, and later my editor, I didn’t know what I was allowed to stand up for choices I had made--I thought their word was law. That being said, I’d also advise them to be open to the possibility that someone might have a better idea for your story than you do. I’m constantly amazed by the things my critique partners, agent, and editor point out in my work and how their ideas can strengthen my work. Working with an editor is a weird combination of never assuming you know best, but also trusting your gut when it comes to knowing if something is right. If you are going to fight for something, make sure you have a darn good reason for it, and try and make it not a fight, but a conversation. Be sure you are hearing and open to other ideas.

4. Share about how you felt your story improved from working with your editor.

ML: While we didn’t make a lot of big, overall changes to the book between acquisition and publication, Laurel’s advice helped me take a lot of things I was doing in the manuscript and hone them so they were done better. Her feedback helped me sharpen the book into something publishable. She also brought such a sincere enthusiasm and passion for my project that gave me confidence and excitement.

Now for Mackenzi's interview of Laurel:

1. For Laurel, what first drew you to THIS MONSTROUS THING? What made you fall in love with it?

LS: THIS MONSTROUS THING was my first acquisition, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. The acquisitions process was a whirlwind and very unusual. I had been looking for the right project to start my list with for a while, but the timing of the submission wasn't ideal; HarperCollins has just moved offices from Midtown to the Financial District so our tradition acquisitions meetings were on hiatus and it was during Book Expo America, so schedules were off. But I started reading TMT--on the subway during my commute, which is often where I read submissions--and I couldn't put it down. I read it piecemeal every chance I got between BEA meetings and events--and it kept me so riveted. I was initially drawn in by the genre itself, historical fantasy, but the longer I read I realized this was the whole package: brilliant concept, beautiful writing, really nuanced characters and relationships. It's the type of book where you get something different out of it on each read, which makes it very special.

2. As an editor, how do you know what book is The One and worth acquiring?

LS: There is no magic formula for acquiring; it's incredibly subjective. It's partly about taste; for example, I was looking for a fantasy project when I received TMT. But it's also about timing, not just about what is working in the marketplace, but what each individual editor is personally looking for and what would provide a good balance for her list and the team's list. At the time I received TMT, I was looking for a teen title that explored sibling relationships--although I expected that project to be realistic fiction about sisters instead of historical fantasy about brothers! Editors always have to have their editorial minds open to new ideas and projects that they wouldn't expect because that is often where the magic is.

3. What is the acquisition process like at Katherine Tegen Books?

LS: The acquisitions process at Katherine Tegen Books and HarperCollins Children's Books is lengthy. Although it can feel overly laborious at times, it ultimately feels right to me. When someone at KT Books finds a project they're really excited about we'll either share it with the entire team during a team editorial meeting or, depending on timing, share it directly with Katherine. If we get the go-ahead at that step, we'll bring the project to the HarperCollins Children's Books Acquisitions meeting, which is attended by editors and editorial directors from other imprints and groups, marketing, publicity, finance, and sales. With so many people offering feedback and opinions, the Acquisitions meeting can feel intimidating, but it's actually essential to the acquisitions process. If the group ultimately decides the project is right for KT Books/HarperCollins Children's Books after the input from the different departments, the editor can be confident that the project will have support from throughout the children's division down the road. And with that go-ahead, the editor makes a offer to the author's agent and hopes that it's accepted!

4. What character in THIS MONSTROUS THING are you most like/do you relate to the most?

LS: This is such a great question because the characters in TMT are so wonderfully nuanced--and all of them have major flaws they must work through in the novel. If I had to choose one character, it would be Mary Godwin. In many ways, she is one of the most unlikable characters in the novel because her actions put Alasdair and Oliver in danger, but her actions stem from trying to process an event she has witnessed. So much of life is about putting together pieces, reflecting on past actions, and figuring out how to move forward, so I have to applaud Mary for doing that, despite her flawed methods. Besides, she's a writer and I have a soft spot for those.

5. What is the publishing process like for an editor? We hear a lot about it from the author's point of view, but what is an editor's experience? Do you go through the same ups and downs?

LS: The publishing process is glorious, messy, rewarding, heartbreaking, and much, much more. There are ups and downs on a daily basis, for an individual title, and for an author's career within a publishing house. Just like an author, it's important for editors to maintain a healthy perspective. When I get to work with incredibly talented authors, see their books in bookstores, and know the books have reached the hands of readers--that's everything.

Thanks for sharing all your great advice, Mackenzi and Laurel. You can find Mackenzi at:

Website: www.mackenzilee.com 
Twitter: @themackenzilee

You can find Laurel at :

Mackenzi has generously offered an ARC of THIS MONSTROUS THING for a giveaway. To enter,  all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through October 3rdIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have a guest post by debut author Laurel Gale and a giveaway of her MG fantasy DEAD BOY.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Karen Lange said...

It's great to meet Mackenzi and Laurel. Appreciate the intro, Natalie! I think it's wonderful that they both had the same vision for the book. With the ups and downs in the process it's nice to know someone is in your corner.

I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Have a great week! :)

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interviews of both Mackenzi and Laurel. Love the cover and blurb of TMT! Interesting to hear an agent's point of view of how things in the publishing world work. Thanks!

Donna K. Weaver said...

What a great cover. And creepy premise. Shades of Pet Cemetery. lol

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Authors do have a say in what stays and what goes. I've encountered so many writers that fear an editor will change everything about their book. But they are the ones changing things from suggestions made and can fight for something they feel is right.

Congrats on your first book, Mackenzi.

Greg Pattridge said...

So many great questions and answers. Nice to know there is a respectful give and take between author and editor. This new book sounds wonderfully enticing.

cleemckenzie said...

Learning how to stand up for your work is huge. I always think the "experts" know best, but then I rethink that and, if I'm sure I'm right, I put up an argument. Sometimes I win. Oh, and if I reverse the author's name on the book I'll have another publication to talk about. McKenzie Lee v. Lee McKenzie.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of people involved in the process. So many places for a book to get shot down.

Carina Olsen said...

Yay for having a great weekend :D I hope you will have an awesome week too sweet girl. <3 This interview is aawesome. Thank you so much for sharing :) Just wish giveaway was international ;p But I'm good. I'm so curious about this book :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Congrats on the book. It sounds like and interesting and unique plot. I loved hearing about it from both the author and editor's perspectives.

Brenda said...

Very interesting premise and loved hearing from both the author and editor. Have a wonderful week Natalie!

Rosalyn said...

This is a great interview--I especially loved the editor insight into what goes into a book getting picked up! I can't wait to read this.

Jemi Fraser said...

Fascinating! I love the sound of the book - and hearing the background was awesome!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

This book sounds so intriguing. Fascinating to hear from both editor and author. Thank you.

Hope you had a nice visit with your mother, Natalie.

Suzanne Warr said...

Fascinating acquisitions story, and great interview! Thanks to all!

Tammy Theriault said...

Definitely good to know that authors can fight for their vision with the editors! Great tidbit.

Natasha said...

Great interview!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Beth said...

Great interview, and the premise sounds fantastic!
I'm not in the US, so don't enter me in the contest.
Hope your visit with your mom was great, Natalie.

Morgyn said...

Sounds like the voice of this book will be unique. Am tweeting @MorgynStar

Stephanie Garber said...

Great interview--I loved reading what both Mackenzi and Laurel had to say! And This Monstrous Thing sounds fantastic!

Rosi said...

Another great interview. Very informative. The book sounds great, but please don't put my name in the drawing. I am buried right now. Thanks for the post.

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the great interview! I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/646409663144026112
Thanks for the giveaway!

Liz Brooks said...

This book sounds so interesting, but I especially love learning more about the author/editor relationship. I've always been fascinated by how that sort of thing works out, so thank you for sharing.

I tweeted about it. Thanks for the giveaway!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

It's wonderful to hear how much Laurel loved Mackenzi's story! There is nothing like a working relationship like this. Best of luck to Mackenzi!

bison61 said...

He brings Oliver back from the dead. that sure caught my interest!

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Eisen said...

This sounds like the perfect book for fall. I tweeted about the giveaway:
Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. I have nothing but good to say about my editors. They push me and make me take my characters places I was scared to go alone.

Unknown said...

Congrats to MacKenzi! She sounds so sweet. I loved to hear what it was like working with Laurel and the straight "insider" info from both of them. Wishing MacKenzi much success!

Theresa Milstein said...

Mackenzi is going to be at Porter Square Books by me soon. So excited for her!

M Pax said...

Hope you had a great visit and a safe trip home. Congrats to Mackenzi! Cool bok!

DMS said...

What a great visit. I really enjoyed hearing both sides of the story. It is interesting to learn a bit more about the acquisition process. The Monstrous Thing sounds awesome. Wishing Mackenzi the best of luck. :)

jpetroroy said...

I love his idea!

jpetroroy said...


Anonymous said...

This really does sound like a really interesting new twist on the story. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Having that type of a relationship with an editor is ideal. People should be on the same page or find a way to get there through compromise. I enjoyed the interview! And what a great cover!

Kathleea said...

I'd love to read it! I'm another dreadpunk (Victorian Gothic Horror) author currently querying.

Anonymous said...

So much passion goes into a book from every involved party. This looks like an amazing read.

Sandra Cox said...

Kudos to a great storyline and a wonderful partnership.

falphoenix said...

I met Mackenzi last weekend at the TeenAuthor Festival in Boston. So excited to read her book, it's sounds quite unique. marynewlim@gmail.com