Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Editor Interview with Whitney Ross of Tor!


This week Honestly YA welcomes editor, extraordinaire, Whitney Ross! I had the pleasure of meeting Whitney at a conference in Chicago this year and she's delightful.

Welcome Whitney!

1.      What book(s) spoke to you most during your teen years? Do any of them continue to influence you now as an adult, or in your career as an editor?

I read Pride and Prejudice when my age was in the single digits, and still re-read it every year.  I actually missed a stop on the train recently because I got so caught up in the story!  It’s a character driven novel with a distinct voice, qualities that I tend to focus on as an editor today. 

 A few YA favorites are Ella Enchanted, A Wrinkle in Time and Mara, Daughter of the NileI still go back and re-read these three periodically, and the stories never get old. If you haven’t read them, go, buy, read!  I can’t recommend them more highly. All three have strong, distinct voices and characters that you can’t help but wish were your friend.  I loved reading books with admirable—or at least sympathetic—characters, and that hasn’t changed!

2.      We talk a lot about “voice” here at Honestly YA. How do you define it? Do you have any tips to help aspiring writers develop it?

“Voice” is so difficult to define, but I would describe it as the phrasing and diction that makes a character come alive, feel real and unique. 

Don’t force it!   This tends to be more of an issue for YA authors trying to have a specifically teen voice.  Yet the YA characters that we love the most don’t necessarily have a teenage voice, but a voice that is their own.  It’s distinct, fits with the character, and is consistent throughout the novel.

The best thing you can do is know your hero/heroine.  How would he/she respond in a certain situation?  Are they funny, sarcastic, shy, unselfish, brave?  Make a list, and make sure their responses are consistent with who they are.  The “voice” will follow!

3.      We keep hearing how crowded the YA market is. How can aspiring YA authors ensure their work stands out from the masses?

Don’t write to trends! The publishing timeline is so long that you’re going to be at least a year or two behind.  Instead, write what you love.  Write what you feel inspired to write.  If you love it, chances are someone else will too. 

4.      Is there anything on your current wish list? Anything you’re not interested in seeing at this time?

I’m always looking for a unique YA fantasy with a strong female lead, and I’d love to see a YA historical with a supernatural hook.  But most of the time, I end up buying things that weren’t on my wish list, books that surprise me, and that’s always fun.

5.      What releases do you have coming up that you are especially excited about?

I’m particularly excited about Mindee Arnett’s The Nightmare Affair, YA paranormal about a girl who’s half nightmare, half human. It’s a fabulous read, witty and just so much fun.  Check out Mindee’s website for more information:

6.      Just for fun, who are some of your favorite YA Heroes of all time?

What a fun question!  There are so many wonderful YA heroes out there, but I tried to keep my list limited to my absolute favorites:

Brigan from Kristin Cashore’s Fire
Sean Kendrick from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races
Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series
Shane from Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire Series
Cassel from Holly Black’s Curse Workers series
Finnikin from Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock

Am I missing anyone that you particularly love?  If so, I’d love to hear your recommendations!


Bio: Whitney Ross is an editor at Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, publisher of Forge, Tor Books, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen. In her free time, she’s also a book collector, wannabe jet-setter, and Starbucks junkie, and enjoys competitive sports such as skiing and shopping. She is from Phoenix, Arizona, and is actively seeking science fiction & fantasy, urban fantasy, romance, historical fiction, and young adult novels.


Thanks so much for stopping by, Whitney! After those hero recommendations, you're welcome anytime. ;D