Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview with Kerri-Leigh Grady, Assistant Editor at Entangled

Kerri-Leigh Grady spends her spare time perfecting canning techniques and stockpiling machetes, coffee, and QuikClot. When she’s not preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she drinks an insane amount of coffee and pretends to be just another soccer mom.

She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where she studied urban fantasy, horror, and romance. And tortured the faculty. Who are glad to see her gone.

This week, KL lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Next week, she’ll be wherever the Navy sends her family. KL will be attending the Crested Butte Writers Conference, June 22-24, 2012.

  1. Which categories do you currently acquire? Which category has a special/constant place in your heart?
    Answer: I acquire romance. Any flavor, any sub-genre, any trope. My favorite stories will always be thrilling or terrifying, whether that's because of high stakes adventure or because of the bogeyman in the closet. I also love paranormal romance and urban fantasy, though I am sick unto death of kitchen sink worldbuilding. Pick a few beasties, define your world, and work within it. Also: death to vampires and werebeasts! Or undeath. Or something.
    If I find something compelling in my inbox, but it's not my cuppa, I pass it along to one of my fellow Entangled editors.
  1. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial? Single spaced or double?

Answer: I don't want a synopsis unless it's the two paragraphs in your query. Send the query with the first five pages pasted at the end. If I like what I see, I'll ask for the full. And then, I still don't want a synopsis. They're made of evil and doom.

  1. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?

Answer: No vampires. No werebeasts. Unless vampires are irredeemably evil villains and werebeasts are wild, ferocious murderers stalking the hero and heroine. Then I might change my tune. Maybe. I'd actually love to see some romantic comedies. Dark or light, as long as they're smart (please no slapstick) and make me laugh out loud, I'll love them and cuddle them and call them Susie. Oh, and romantic thrillers/romantic suspense.

  1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? What particularly grabs your attention?

    Answer: Voice is the obvious answer, but beyond that, a snappy pace, atmospheric setting, and clever worldbuilding (even if the world is a tiny town in Kansas) tend to hook me fast. Consistent pace with escalating conflict are essential to a good read.
  1. For you, which elements in a fiction submission are terminal problems garnering automatic rejections and which are tempting and fixable meriting a look at a revision if a talented author is willing to accept your advice?

Answer: When I read, the first thing I think about is how much time it'll take me to edit the story. If it requires a lot of work or if the missing or flawed elements are major, I will pass. However, I tend to offer a revise & resubmit (R & R) if it's something I think the author can fix. With a few exceptions, a professional writer can fix just about anything. Assuming below that everything else is at least acceptable or even compelling about the story:

    1. Voice Reject
    2. Weak Grammar Depends on how bad it is.
    3. Common plot Reject
    4. Poor character development R&R
    5. Story is too controversial (ie rape, politics, religion—what else?) Controversy isn't an issue if it's handled right, but if the author fumbled or pulled her punch, I'll offer R&R.
    6. Mediocre / uninspired writing Reject
    7. Excessive use of violence or cursing Full request (kidding) - this is an easy fix
    8. Lacking genre –specific requirements like, suspense/sexual tension/ world-building R&R
    9. Pacing is off—plot is too slow R&R
    10. Story starts in wrong spot R&R
    11. Ending is unsatisfactory R&R
    12. Lack of tension R&R
  1. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?

Answer: Absolutely. It helps knowing an author is serious and knows how to connect professionally. It's an important trait to have with your publisher and your readers. Even chatting me up online lets me know you've taken the time to Twitter- or blogstalk me. I appreciate that. Just no actual stalking, if you please.

  1. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?

Answer: Understanding the importance of using social networking to build a community of readers.

  1. Do you have any pet peeves?

Answer: Interviews. (Theresa: Ouch—I must be high on your favorite people list today thank you for answering a few questions for me, KL)

Also, I very much dislike dealing with authors who refuse to learn and improve craft. I don't care if you've won a RITA or a Nebula. If we've discussed your unnatural relationship with the word "just," I expect you to run a search and destroy on that word before you send me your manuscript. Especially since I've offered to pay for your "just" rehab.

  1. What are you addicted to?

Answer: Twitter. And background noise.

  1. What have you always wanted to do?

Answer: Get my PhD.

  1. Do you have a favorite quote?

Answer: From the poem "The Old Astronomer to His Pupil" by Sarah Williams: "Though my soul my set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; / I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

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