Since this blog is about offering inspiration to writers and artists, my first question for you is, do you have a favorite quote? If so, why is it your favorite?
I have many favorite quotes, I could never say there is one that surpasses all others. But an apropos one might be Maxim Gorky’s
“You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults, only better.”
You have edited so many books that have gone on to win prestigious awards and that constantly become New York Times Bestsellers, WOW! I applaud you for having such a phenomenal editorial eye! If you could be one character out of all the books you’ve edited, who would it be and why?
Thank you—although no success has been as “constant” as I would like. I love the question—I’ve never thought about that. There are a few characters that anyone might say I am already. But if I could be one, it might be Backbeard, the hairiest pirate who ever lived. No, wait, I’ve changed my mind: It would either be the kid from You Are the First Kid on Mars or Stewart Hale from Shanghaied to the Moon; because going into outer space would be really, really cool.
If you could go back in time when you first started working as an editor, what piece of knowledge would you take back with you into the future?
I find that the knowledge I most value is the accumulation of knowledge I have gained over the years. And you simply can’t start out with that. But rather than duck the question…let’s see…one piece… OK, how about this: I might track down a certain aspiring writer in Scotland and become friends with her. I would never say that I should have ever published her books. All successes are the results of stars aligning in a certain way, and if you mess with the time-space continuum, it’ll bite you in the end. But it would be nice to be friends…
What did you want to be growing up? Now that you’re an editor did this come as a surprise?
That changed frequently, I can remember wanting to be a fireman, an astronaut, an architect, a psychiatrist. Becoming an editor was never a surprise. Books were my one consistent interest throughout life. Everything else was fleeting.
You have come across many writers and artists in your career. What piece of advice have you given most?
If you could be any super hero, who would it be and why?
Wolverine. Because he’s indestructible, and feral.
If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
I don’t know that I can pick one word. Quixotic. Oh, look, I just did. But keep in mind what happens to Don Quixote in the end…
Thank you Timothy for such insight into your amazing world of editing and for sharing Maxim Gorky’s wonderful quote! You’re adored for all the tireless work you do and if I could pick one word to describe you, it would have to be, accomplished.