Michael Stearns is an Editorial Director at HarperCollins — he says there are seven Editorial Directors there.

He tends to buy:

1) “genre novels with literary hooks”
2) books that are “smart funny” (not slapstick)

He doesn’t like issue novels, historical fiction or books on Native Americans. However, he brought up A Northern Light, which is a historical coming-of-age story. But as he says, “who cares? You read it because you want to know who did it!”

He doesn’t care why you write the book (he doesn’t even want to know why you wrote it); he just wants to like it.

Comedy = Tragedy + Time (or Tragedy + Distance).

While we’re writing, we should ask ourselves, “does it hurt yet?” If there’s an emotional core to our story, it should HURT when we write. We, as authors, should feel something at key moments in the story.

I thought the last half of his talk was the most interesting. He put up eleven examples of first pages from novels he’s edited (or novels he loves)…we even got copies of all these first pages…and told us why they were such wonderful openings. I scrawled notes all over my pages. What a wonderful way to see what this one editor responds to! I wish all editors would do that at conferences…

More conference notes — Michael Stearns

2 thoughts on “More conference notes — Michael Stearns

    • October 25, 2006 at 2:51 pm

      Wonderful conference! And it was nice seeing you, too! I just wish we’d had longer to chat (but then again, there are about 20 people I wish I had chatted with more).

      I LOVED when you asked Michael how it felt to be one of the hottest guys in children’s literature!!!


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