Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Interview with Disney Hyperion Sr. Editor, Christian Trimmer

I'm very excited to announce that Christian Trimmer is The Sandy's final judge for the Children/ YA category and is attending the Crested Butte Writers Conference, June 21-23, 2013.  Christian graciously took the time to answer my questions for this interview and will be popping in to answer your questions, so take advantage of this great opportunity!

Bio: CHRISTIAN TRIMMER is a senior editor at Disney Hyperion Books. He edits books by folks like Mo Willems (the New York Times best-selling The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? and the Elephant and Piggie series) and Rick Riordan (The Red Pyramid, The Graphic Novel and the forthcoming The Sea of Monsters, The Graphic Novel), as well as the Ghost and the Goth trilogy (by Stacey Kade), the Touch series (by Laurie Faria Stolarz), the Carter series (by Brent Crawford), and The Classroom: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet Epic Kid (by Robin Mellom). Christian works on various formats: picture books, graphic novels, and middle grade and young adult fiction.

Christian is looking to acquire more novels about kids in real world situations: romantic comedies, family dramas, road trips, coming-of-age tales. An original voice and strong character development are key to him.

  1. Which categories do you currently acquire/ represent?  Which category has a special/constant place in your heart?

    Answer: When I first started acquiring, it was YA, YA, YA! But now, I work on books in most categories: picture books, graphic novels, middle grade, and young adult. I’ve yet to do a chapter book, and I look forward to trying one. I still have a soft spot for young adult, though. The protagonists of YA books can deal with more mature themes, and I find the intensity of feelings that these characters experience fascinating.

  1. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial?  Single spaced or double?
Answer: Long enough to effectively convey the narrative and emotional arc(s) of the novel. Always double spaced.

  1. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?
Answer: Happily, I’m not sick to death of anything…yet. I don’t need any paranormal romance for the time being, and I’m good on middle school books set in school for the next few years. I’d love to read more contemporary novels; they just need a really strong hook.

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

    Answer: Voice, voice, and voice. And then a cool premise.

  1. For you, in general, 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? 
    1. Voice TERMINAL
    2. Weak Grammar FIXABLE!
    3. Common plot FIXABLE!
    4. Poor character development TERMINAL
    5. Story is too controversial (ie rape, politics, religion—what else?) INTRIGUING!
    6. Mediocre / uninspired writing TERMINAL
    7. Excessive use of violence or cursing FIXABLE!
    8. Lacking genre –specific requirements like, suspense/sexual tension/ world-building FIXABLE!
    9. Pacing is off—plot is too slow TERMINAL
    10. Story starts in wrong spot FIXABLE!
    11. Ending is unsatisfactory VERY FIXABLE!
    12. Other

  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! Once they’ve seen your face and shaken your hand, you have to make a real effort to save face! I might not spend more time on a critique of a manuscript, but I will move the submission closer to the top of the stack.

  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: First and foremost, I want to make sure I have a connection with the writer, so it’s important to me to speak with an author before I sign up his/her novel. I like working with writers who are actively involved in the industry: attending conferences, participating in book clubs, developing an online community. Promotability (good word!) is huge, too.

  1. Do you have any pet peeves?
Answer: Yes, but they’re not related to the publishing industry.

  1. What are you addicted to?
Answer: Mother taught me everything in moderation, but I don’t miss Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, or Girls. I read Entertainment Weekly cover-to-cover every issue.

  1. What have you always wanted to do?
Answer: Create!


Lisa Potocar said...

Thanks to Theresa and Christian for a wonderful interview! I have a question for you, Christian:

I’ve heard it said a few times that newer authors should stick with writing in the same genre until they’ve established their name. The background for this question: While my recently published YA historical novel gave me fits during its creation, I veered off to write stories for younger audiences. One of these is a fantasy chapter book (set in Western Australia)—a vast departure from my recently published YA historical novel and other novels that I’m currently working on and have planned with the American Civil War as the backdrop. Do you think it would be wise to hold off on seeking publication for this chapter book until I’ve established my name as an author of YA historical fiction?

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Welcome Christian,

Your interview with Theresa was fascinating, and you sounded pproachable, even happy. And as Disney has the reputation of quality and "happy", I felt it in your answers.

Sheesh, I sound like I'm in my happy place.

Seriously, if I wrote YA or younger, I'd be entering the contest.

Again, thanks for being here today.

Best, Leslie Ann aka LA of Five Scribes.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Make that approachable. Sorry.

Christian said...

Hello, Lisa! I did a google search of myself this morning (what an egomaniac!) and came across the Five Scribes interview. So, apologies for the very delayed response.

First, congratulations on the publication of your book!!!

Second, you ask a question that a number of editors have been discussing in my office. I can't give you a definitive answer, but I can offer some advice.

It sounds like you're early enough in your career to make the switch. Sure, we ("we" being your publisher) would love to establish you as the next queen of YA historical fiction. The Sales people at your publisher want to be able to present a consistent narrative about you to booksellers. So if you're bouncing around genres, it makes things more challenging. But you have to write what you're passionate about. I think your primary goal should be to keep publishing books (I know, easier said than done). Once you have some momentum, and it sounds like you do, you have to keep building on it.

I recommend you do some strategizing with your agent. Maybe you use a different name for your chapter books, maybe you work with a different publisher, maybe your current publisher buys both your new series AND your next YA historical. But just know that there are PLENTY of examples of writers moving among genres. Mac Barnett has picture books at multiple houses and a great middle grade series at S & S. Adam Rex does picture books, middle grade, and YA. E. Lockhart does it all.

Good luck!

Christian said...

Hello, Leslie Ann!

A strategically placed exclamation point makes anyone sound happy!