Simon MajumdarI was genuinely delighted when Penguin Random House agreed to publish my latest food and travel adventure, Fed, White, and Blue.  Not just because they are, of course, one of the finest publishers in the world, but also because it felt very much like I was coming home.

A little under thirty years ago, after the good Lord and I both decided that a life in the Episcopalian clergy was not for me, my first “proper” place of employment was as a sales associate in a small, short lived chain of bookshops owned by Penguin Books.  It began a happy ten year association with the publisher that saw me move up through the ranks until I had gained the heady title of “Special Sales Manager,” a position which earned me my own little office, with its own coveted little window, in their London headquarters.

The majority of my time during that decade, however, was spent out on the road, as a sales representative for the Penguin Paperback list. It was a period which, even given some of the extraordinary adventures I have experienced in the last few years of travel around the world, still remains one of the most enjoyable of my career, and I still retain the fondest memories of my years servicing a select group of large bookstores in central London.

It was a job which not only tested my ability to consume gallons of tea (or “English Penicillin” as we call it back in Blighty) every day as I met with the managers of the book stores, but also gave me a true insight into the sharp end of the book business, which I think has served me well in my second life as an author.

As a sales person for Penguin, the notion of “author care” was drummed into me from the very beginning. My list of new books to sell each month was sizeable, but I was always well aware that every title I offered up to my customers represented the heart and soul of the author, and often years of hard work to bring the book to fruition. It was a mindset that I never forgot, whether I was selling a new title from a blockbuster author or a niche work from a specialist that would find its home in our midlist. I can promise that I always gave every effort to sell every book, and it is a mindset that I am delighted to say seems to be very much at the heart of the Penguin Random House philosophy today.

I can also say that my time on the road has definitely helped me become a more involved author.  Each new book I write is like my new baby, and I, of course, want everybody to admire it and for it to reach the widest audience possible. However, having spent so much time on the front line of book sales, I am also aware what a tough battleground it can be and that there are thousands of new books each month are fighting for the attention of customers.

fed-white-and-blue-by-simon-majumdar 2I also know, after spending nearly twenty years of my life in the business, just how much the publishing landscape has changed. Now, more than ever, making a book a success depends on a joint effort between the authors, editorial, marketing, publicity and the sales teams. It takes, as they say “a village” to produce a good book, and I am thrilled that, with the publication of Fed, White, and Blue I am allowed to be a resident of one of the best villages in the business.

Like I said, it feels like coming home.

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Jessica Brock pic

 

Jessica works with romance titles from Berkley and NAL and is also a YA enthusiast. She lives in Brooklyn and is a huge fan of Supernatural, all things Joss Whedon, and live music.

 

 

 

 

 

the-shadows-by-jr-wardThe Shadows by J. R. Ward

As a long time Black Dagger Brotherhood series fan, needless to say I was SO excited to start reading The Shadows. Little did I know this would be one of the most emotional installments in the series so far, but that’s a good thing! With her now infamous blend of multiple plot lines, hilarious pop culture references and intricate world-building, Ward gives an unstoppable emotional ride with Trez and iAm’s story.

 

 

 

 

silver-bastard-by-joanna-wyldeSilver Bastard by Joanna Wylde

Joanna Wylde first hooked me into her world with Reaper’s Legacy, and now as a fan for life I was giddy when I found out there was going to be spinoff series set in a mining community with close ties another motorcycle club. Wylde’s writing remains gritty and raw but still very much emotional. These characters don’t have an easy life and they don’t really rise above it either – they actually plow right through it to get to their happy ever after. This one is dark, twisted, and definitely not for the faint of heart, but absolutely worth it. Sons of Anarchy fans, Silver Bastard is a must read along with all of her Reapers MC books!

 

 

still-the-one-by-jill-shalvisStill The One by Jill Shalvis

I’m sure I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to repeat myself, but no one mixes humor and steam quite like Jill Shalvis. The sassy ladies, bromances, humor, sexy times, and adorable animals make the Animal Magnetism series, set in small-town Idaho, stand out for me as far as contemporary romances go and Still The One is no exception. Plus, I can’t get enough of a good hero/heroine pair who can give each other a hard time and still be so completely in love.

 

 

 

 

captive-prince-by-c-s-pacatCaptive Prince by C. S. Pacat

So #DiverseBooks isn’t just a YA thing – we LOVE them in romance too! Captive Prince is not only a superbly written fantasy, but it features a male/male couple! Their relationship is so layered and complicated that it’s impossible not to be completely enthralled with this book. Did I mention it’s a master/slave story line surrounded by impending warring countries and nefarious enemies? One word – EPIC. Okay, one more hyphenated word, must-read!

 

 

 

too-dangerous-for-a-lady-by-jo-beverleyToo Dangerous For A Lady by Jo Beverley

It is so much fun getting swept up in a historical romance and New York Times bestselling author Jo Beverley’s Too Dangerous for A Lady has everything I’m looking for. A strong heroine, a rogue-type man with a hero complex, a pinch of danger, and the world of corsets and stays…I’m so in! There’s something about the dialogue between our hero and leading lady (and most historicals for that matter) that just gives you the sense that our modern day flirty banter is just utterly lacking in comparison. I always end up thinking “it would so be so much more fun if we still talked like that” so when I read TDFAL, at least I got to live in that mindset for a while…

 

Find more books on the Romance page.

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Bria Sandford with Do Over by Jon AcoffWhen I first heard that Portfolio was signing Jon Acuff, I was thrilled. I grew up in an evangelical Christian home, and Jon’s early book Stuff Christians Like had delighted me with its good-humored skewering of the quirks in Christian culture. My little sister was obsessed with another of his earlier books, and I knew she’d be over the moon to hear that Jon’s next book would be published by my imprint. It didn’t look like I’d be the editor, but I’d still get some bragging rights. Little did I know that I’d have the good luck of “inheriting” the book when Jon’s original editor left.

The spectacular Maria Gagliano started out working with Jon, and I followed the progress of the book with interest as the two of them produced a really stellar book. Based on his own hard-earned experience, Jon explains how to launch or prepare for a career Do Over by depositing in a “Career Savings Account,” made up of investments in relationships, skills, character, and hustle. He comes alongside the reader with kindness and humor (This guy is hilarious!), but he doesn’t pull punches—when I first read an early version, I winced a little at some of the real talk and began taking notes for my own career.

do-over-by-jon-acuff 2When Maria left, I began working with Jon. Most of the editorial work on Do Over was complete, but I get to be his editorial liaison and will get to work on his next book with us (He’s so nice, we signed him twice!). I couldn’t be more pleased, since he’s the real deal. He’s as pleasant as he sounds in the book, and everyone at Portfolio who has worked with him adores him. What’s more, his book is that elusive career book that is truly helpful to people of all ages and stages in their careers. I can’t wait to see how Do Over changes lives.

 

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Brooke Parsons is a Senior Publicist at Penguin Press. She enjoys documentary films, Lydia Davis stories, Broad City, and aimless walks around Manhattan.

 

 

 

 

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Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen

The story of the Russian feminist political punk group Pussy Riot was unbelievable to the West. What’s so exceptional is not the group’s existence but rather the fact that three young women were on trial for an act of artistic political outrage: a performance piece staged inside the Russian Orthodox Church that vilified the newly reinstated President Putin. The arrest and trial of Nadya Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich became an international story full of questions demanding answers. Journalist Masha Gessen was on the front lines in Moscow and brings us the entire story in Words Will Break Cement. Published after the documentary release of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which focuses on the trial but ends before time served, this book takes readers deep inside the story of Pussy Riot: their origination, the personal lives of the women involved, and their thoughts on Russian feminism and Putin’s dark reach. For bonus points, check out the documentary Ukraine is Not a Brothel, a profile of Femen (the feminist protest group founded in Ukraine).

 

journey-without-maps-by-graham-greeneJourney without Maps by Graham Greene

Graham Greene is perhaps best known for his novels The Quiet American and The End of the Affair. However, his travel writing is not to be missed—particularly Journey without Maps. This is the story of Greene’s first visit to Africa in 1935 when he walked some 350 miles from Sierra Leone to Liberia. At the time, Liberia was a new country intended to be settled by freed slaves from America. Greene’s sense of discovery and self-discovery is thrilling. And, as the reader, I like learning more about a place I know little about—especially when news concerning Liberia seems to be negative. In recent years, Liberia has suffered civil war, extreme poverty, and a recent Ebola outbreak. (To learn more about this West African country, check out VICE’s Guide to Liberia).

 

galileos-middle-finger-by-alice-dregerGalileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science by Alice Dreger

No, this is not a biography on Galileo Galilei; the title refers to his encased digit, mounted on display in Italy. It was too ironic: the man condemned by the Catholic Church for teaching that the Earth revolves around the Sun was now flipping everyone the bird. Author Alice Dreger, a medical historian and patient rights activist, discusses modern instances where scientists, like Galileo, revealed inconvenient truths about the world, truths met with outrage and personal attacks from political activists. She travels the country to interview people like anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who was falsely accused of committing genocide against a South American tribe; the psychologist Michael Bailey, whose research into sex and gender identity led to accusations of abuse by transgender women; and the famous evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson, whose theories about sociobiology resulted in accusations of racism. Dreger herself was at the forefront of advocating for intersex rights in the late 1990s. But through the course of research for this book, she unexpectedly finds herself in the midst of her own controversy. Dreger’s argument? We must be more open-minded and not deny the scientific facts, even when they challenge our identity. (This might sound like heavy stuff, but Dreger has a wicked sense of humor that makes this book quite the page-turner!)

 

the-journey-of-crazy-horse-by-joseph-m-marshallThe Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III

Crazy Horse is a legend. The world remembers him as the Lakota warrior who, along with Sitting Bull, aided in the defeat of the U.S. Army under Colonel George Armstrong Custer, or what we now refer to as Custer’s Last Stand. Marshall’s book is the definitive biography of Crazy Horse. His portrait of the man behind the myth is unforgettable. What makes this biography even more compelling is Marshall; Lakota himself, he preserves his people’s rich history of oral tradition. This book is a celebration of Crazy Horse, the man who helped save his people—their culture, community, and way of life.

 

Find more books on the Current Events & History page!

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Katherine_Stewart

 

Katherine Stewart is the Marketing Coordinator for Penguin Press. Being from Maine, she loves the outdoors and stays healthy by walking her dog and riding her horse!

 

 

 

moody-bitches-by-julie-holland

 

Moody Bitches by Julie Holland, M.D.

Women are meant to be moody—embrace it! In this book Julie Holland explains why moodiness can be a strength, not a weakness, which is so refreshing to hear. Her tips about hormones, medication, diet, exercise, and mood are helpful for women of ALL ages and will show you why you need to embrace your inner bitch. This can be an awkward topic but the frank/funny style of this book makes it so approachable.

 

 

 

the-good-gut-by-justin-sonnenburg-erica-sonnenburg

 

The Good Gut by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg

Gut bacteria sound disgusting, and while that may be true, they’re also very important! I didn’t realize how much they affect our health until I read Michael Pollan’s article “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs.” The article discusses the Sonnenburg’s work and how the microbes that reside in our gut affect everything from our immune response to our weight, allergic reactions, aging, and emotions. Who knew? While you may not be hungry after reading that, The Good Gut has delicious recipes that will encourage microbial health.

 

 

moonwalking-with-einstein-by-joshua-foer

 

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

My grandfather used to play a memory game with us. He would put 30 random objects on a tray and would give us one minute to look them over. Then he would cover them up and whoever could remember the most objects would win (I never did). My sister has a great memory and won every time. Moonwalking with Einstein will not only help you improve your memory, it also makes for a fascinating read. I’m betting that I’ll win next time we play!

 

 

superbetter-by-jane-mcgonigal

 

SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal

Don’t hate me but this title isn’t coming out until September. Make sure it’s on your to-read list though because it’s amazing. You may remember Jane from her first book Reality is Broken but if not, she’s a game designer. In 2009, she suffered a severe concussion and had trouble healing.  Afraid of never recovering, she decided to turn healing into a game. I’m not a big fan of gaming (other than Mario Kart), but I’ll play SuperBetter any day. So far 400,000 people have played SuperBetter, including Oprah. Look out for this one in the Fall!

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

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Ulyett

 

 

Alex Ulyett is an assistant editor at Viking Children’s Books. Even though he’s lived most of his life within a small radius, growing up in New Jersey and living in New York, traveling is one of his favorite things. Along with books and choral music.

 

 

 

mosquitoland-by-david-arnold

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

This is smart, sophisticated, and wholly original YA that both teens and adults will love. Sixteen-year-old Mim Malone is a protagonist who has stayed with me long past her runaway Greyhound journey from swampy Mosquitoland to visit her mother (who has for some reason stopped communicating with her). The book is a road trip. It’s a mystery. It’s a coming-of-age.  It’s a love story. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hilarious. I don’t want to give too much away, but I envy anyone who still has this quirky ride to look forward to.

 

 

dory-fantasmagory-by-abby-hanlon

 

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

A hilarious and adorable chapter book, this is the story of an imagination gone wild. It brings me back to a time when a pile of pillows could become a fortress, a bouncy ball would explode lava if it touched the ceiling, and a monster lived at the top of the stairs. Dory’s a character kids will adore, so there’s good news—more Dory books to come!

 

 

 

sparkers-by-eleanor-glewwe

 

Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe

I wish this book had come out when I was ten years old. It’s the sort of book I would have read on loop, like I did with the Harry Potter books. In a richly constructed world where some people have magic and some don’t, a mysterious and deadly plague starts claiming victims with no visible pattern. Non-magic  Marah flouts convention and teams up with magic Azariah, discovering ancient secrets that point to a cure. . . and to something much more sinister.

 

 

my-no-no-no-day-by-rebecca-patterson

My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson

This is one of the funniest picture books I’ve read. Bella is having a bad day. A really bad day. Her cookie breaks during lunch. Her bath is too cold. And “ballet is tooo itchy!” The story so wonderfully captures how little problems can seem so huge when you’re pre-school age with amazingly comic illustrations—I mean, look at her expression on the cover!

 

 

 

blind-by-rachel-dewoskin

 

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

This is a beautiful, humane book about a girl who was blinded in a freak accident and is trying to integrate herself back into her original high school, determined not to be a PBK (or, “poor blind kid”). In preparation for this book, author Rachel DeWoskin learned braille and interviewed many blind teens. Her hard work and compassion shine through her protagonist’s wholly realistic voice, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

 

 

ill-give-you-the-sun-by-jandy-nelson

 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Okay, I know. It’s not very original to pick the winner of this year’s Printz Award, but this couldn’t not be on my list. It’s the story of Noah and Jude, twins who were super close until something ruined their relationship. The characters are so lifelike, their problems nuanced and realistic. And there’s a dollop of magical realism to spice everything up! This is YA that will appeal to both teens and adults.

 

 

Find more books on the Young Readers page.

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Sarah Jean Grimm is an Associate Publicist at Putnam, where she has worked for two years. She also edits on an online poetry quarterly, Powder Keg Magazine. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in Brooklyn with her orange cat, Theodore.

 

 

 

 

we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves-by-karen-joy-fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This is one of the most emotionally intelligent novels I’ve ever encountered. It had me crying in public as I read it on my commute, and I still find myself thinking about its deeply captivating characters. It’s hard to articulate the particular appeal of this novel without giving away some major plot twists, but suffice it to say that Karen Joy Fowler is a master at exploring nuance, collapsing boundaries, and exposing nerves. This book takes an unblinking look at families, forgiveness, science, and language—ultimately uncovering the ways in which they overlap as part of the human (and nonhuman) experience. Devastating and necessary, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves will change you.

on-such-a-full-sea-by-chang-rae-lee

On Such A Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

Chang-rae Lee’s dystopian future is that rare imaginative feat that strikes readers as simultaneously alien and impossible—if only it weren’t so likely. Set in the stratified society of a colonized America where urbanites labor for an unseen elite, a young diver named Fan ventures out of her settlement in search of her boyfriend, who has mysteriously disappeared. Lee’s writing is mesmerizing, and the world he creates is so realized and unnervingly familiar. It’s a haunting and absorbing pleasure to discover the details of this future alongside “our Fan,” whose story quickly becomes the stuff of legend.

 

 

the-peripheral-by-william-gibson

The Peripheral by William Gibson

William Gibson’s most recent novel completely colonized my brain. Much of The Peripheral is an exercise in cognitive dissonance: the lexicon, technology, and setting are so fresh as to be almost disorienting. But Gibson’s knack for world building is a marvel; his ability to transform recognizable elements into something uncanny is unsurpassed. Add to that a gripping plot, a mystery spanning two timelines, and a cast of compelling characters. The result is hyper literary science fiction that reads like a dangerous blueprint for our own era.

 

 

black-glass-by-karen-joy-fowler

Black Glass: Short Fictions by Karen Joy Fowler

In fifteen short stories, Karen Joy Fowler stretches her wit and showcases her characteristic humor. Originally published in 1998, this book will be reissued in hardcover this summer. It’s a romp through the mind of one of today’s most talented and enchanting writers. Blending the generic conventions of satire, magical realism, science fiction, myth, and more, this diverse collection investigates complex themes with profound acuity. This is immersive storytelling at its finest—a tour de force of intricate plotting, elegant prose, and humor that gives way to unexpected depth.

 

 

the-life-and-death-of-sophie-stark-by-anna-north

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

Told from the alternating perspectives of those closest to the title character, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a portrait of a visionary filmmaker whose uncompromising pursuit of her art puts her relationships at risk. Sophie Stark uses the lives of those around her as material for her films, and as her career grows, so does the cost of translating life into art. Through a medley of voices, each one vivid and distinct, Anna North examines the nature of ambition and asks to what extent it is possible to truly know someone. You’ll race through this darkly engrossing novel.

 

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Christine DonougherLes Misérables is a novel whose themes have a universal and very topical resonance, but they are themes that emerge from a narrative that is very specifically related to a particular time and place –post Revolutionary France. My translation attempts to preserve that specificity of time and place, so I was anxious not to contaminate the text, as it were, with a vocabulary or with expressions freighted with connotations from a later era or a radically different environment that would sound inappropriate or jarring.

I was also anxious not to adopt a style that was unduly mannered or artificial, not to create any sense of the ‘costume drama’. I wanted the text to read as if it was written in a living language, but not in an aggressively twenty-first-century idiom.

My approach was to view Les Misérables not from the perspective of the present, as a nineteenth-century classic, but rather to see it as the modern phenomenon that it once was, reflecting, as it did when it was published in 1862, a modern view of recent history, written by an author who was regarded–in literary terms, in his political views, in his own private life–as something of an iconoclast, a radical, a rule-breaker, a trail-blazer, but who also respected more conservative views and values, and who had contrived by the end of his life to become an establishment figure par excellence.

Hugo had a seemingly effortless mastery of French versification and had published a huge body of poetic work by the time that he was revising and completing Les Misérables in the early 1860s. He was steeped in the classics, and he knew his La Fontaine inside out. He lived in a world of political upheaval, of scientific inquiry and technological innovation, and his writing reflects all these elements.

To bring out these aspects of his writing I relied not only on translation but also on footnotes to illuminate textual features of a linguistic nature–puns, quotations in foreign languages, literary allusions etc–and endnotes to explain factual and historical references, and my hope is that this editorial apparatus is not intrusive but supportive. (While I was working on the translation I became aware of the internet community of fans of Les Misérables whose detailed knowledge of Hugo’s text and their readiness to exchange information about it are remarkable.)

I was intrigued, for instance, by Marius’s tribute to Monsieur Maboeuf, to whom he is indebted for telling him about his father: “He removed my cataracts.” The more clichéd expression would be, “He opened my eyes,” but in 1752 the French surgeon Jacques Deviel published an account of his revolutionary procedure of cataract removal, which laid the foundations for the method used right up until modern times.

I was also struck by how Les Misérables seems to have anticipated so many of the now familiar elements of later novels, thrillers and films, from the literary–there are strong echoes of Jean Valjean’s dream in the South American writer Juan Rulfo’s ghost town in his short novel Pedro Paramo, which Garcia Marquez and Borges revered as a masterpiece–to the mass market bestseller–the long, so-called digressions being not very far removed from the detailed background research incorporated into the modern techno-thriller. The chase through the sewers is memorably reprised in Carol Reed’s film noir The Third Man, based on Graham Greene’s screenplay, and the Champmathieu Affair is a forerunner of many later court room dramas.

les-miserables-by-victor-hugoSo, bearing all these considerations in mind, this translation aims to convey as directly and as unobtrusively as possibly the enduring and timeless appeal of Hugo’s great novel.

 Start Reading an Excerpt


credit Fiona Saunders

Seventeen years ago, right out of college and the Radcliffe Publishing Course, I moved to New York and went to work for the charismatic group of editors who founded Riverhead Books. Over the next four years, as an editorial assistant, I would answer phones, make photocopies, mail books and schedule lunch dates in exchange for a master class in the art of being an editor.

I had always wanted to be an editor. I imagined being left alone in a spacious office with a lot of books and papers. It didn’t take a week to realize that the reality of being an editor was very different—and much more exciting—than my fantasy. What I could not have anticipated before witnessing the chaos, the constant interruptions, the endless phone calls and multi-hour meetings around which those editors’ work days revolved, was how captivating the authors would be. I was star-struck by some of them, a little bit in love with others, and scared to death of one or two. But they were never, ever boring, and no two hours, let alone days, with them were alike. I was forced to overcome my natural introversion again and again to find ways to help, to please, to cajole and to befriend these enigmatic creatures.

When I became an editor myself, I realized just how intense and emotional these relationships could be. The authors I chose to work with changed my life. I helped them to make the most of their work, promoted their books both inside and outside the company, and faded into the background when it was their time to shine. I learned a lot by watching them, but I never wished to be one of them. They spent years writing books in private that would become suddenly public, up for judgment. It was exhilarating but terrifying. They nurtured their hopes, but they couldn’t know what publication day would bring.

While I delivered more than my share of good news over the years—got to tell some authors that their books had made the New York Times bestseller list, to enthuse over publicity coups and take them out for celebratory dinners after their Manhattan readings—I felt their disappointment acutely when things didn’t go so well: a bad review, a too-quiet launch, missed flights and poorly attended readings on tour. I loved being their behind-the-scenes support from the relative safety of my office at 375 Hudson Street, where my good friends and I gossiped and celebrated one another’s birthdays with conference room cupcakes.

A writing life would have seemed too messy and risky to the person I was then. I used to tell friends and family who aspired to write books that it was a terrible way to make a living, that if they could imagine doing anything else—ANYTHING—they should go and do that instead. I stand by that advice, and yet my book, That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us, is about to be published by Gotham.

After I‘d been working for Penguin for ten years, my husband and I had the opportunity to reinvent our lives in London—an offer too exciting to pass up. We started a family. I did some freelance editing and ghost-wrote a couple of books. Then I started looking around for a new challenge… and let’s face it, there’s nothing like a couple of little kids to help you get used to mess and risk. When one of my former authors (none other than the brilliant Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves) gave me the idea to write a book about the differences between English and American culture through the lens of language, I really wanted to try it.

I spent months doing research and digging up intriguing little stories and bizarre bits of history. It was enormous fun finding my own voice after channeling other voices for so long, but the best part was imagining readers having the same thrill of discovery that I’d felt while working on the book. There are a lot of people out there who love to travel, explore other cultures, and talk about language—this book is for them. It is also for American and English expatriates going through the tortuous process of partial assimilation that I went through (and am still going through). Writing That’s Not English helped me find the humor in this experience.

I could never have imagined how satisfying work could be on the other side of the desk. There are things I miss about being an editor, though—like my colleagues. I want to say that I missed those smart and funny Penguins so much, I just had to work with them again. But the truth is, they rarely call me. Most days I am left alone in the library with a lot of books and papers, nurturing my hopes and wondering what publication day will bring.

 

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American by birth, Erin Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books—including Eats, Shoots & Leaves—for the US market. She’s spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo American husband and a small daughter with an English accent.

That’s Not English is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the ten million British and American travelers who visit one another’s countries each year.


SaraMinnichPicMarch2015

Putnam Editor Sara Minnich answers “Three Questions for an Editor” about her work on David Joy’s Where All Light Tends to Go.  This highly praised debut novel is a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption. In the meth-dealing family at the center of the book, killing a man is considered a rite of passage, but when eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely botches a murder, he is torn between appeasing his kingpin father and leaving the mountains with the girl he loves. The world that Jacob inhabits is bleak and unrelenting in its violence and disregard for human life, and having known nothing more, he wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above it.

 

 

For a debut novelist, David Joy has a writing style that feels so natural and remarkably assured as he creates an off-the-grid world populated by authentic characters that are bound to cause readers to feel a wide range of emotions.  What were your thoughts and impressions as you read the initial manuscript for the first time?

I was hooked within the first few pages of Where All Light Tends to Go. Both the writing style and the voice of the young protagonist were raw and gritty, utterly real.  After promising opening pages, I was crossing my fingers in hope that the rest of the book would hold up – and it absolutely did.  Shortly into the story things take a shocking and violent turn, and the pace only escalates from there.  Mostly I remember being unable to put it down.  The manuscript needed some work, but I knew from the first read that I loved it and that David was the real deal.

 

How would you describe the scope of the editor/author process as Where All Light Tends to Go evolved into a finished book?

The first draft that I read was in fairly solid shape in terms of the plot, pacing, and writing.  The element David and I spent the most time revising over the course of three drafts was the relationship between the hero, Jacob McNeely, and his love interest Maggie.  Maggie’s character needed to be fleshed out, and David did a lot of work to find her voice and to help the reader understand the magnetism between her and Jacob.  Their relationship was fundamentally transformed from the first draft to the final book, in a way that brought a lot of heart and hope to a story that is ultimately quite dark.

 

This novel is not your traditional “book club” book, given the gritty nature of a lot of the stories that unfold in its pages, but it feels like a book that will spark a lot of discussions.  What kinds of readers do you think will be most attracted to Where All Light Tends to Go and why?

The novel falls firmly in the category of country noir, so would be perfect for readers of Daniel Woodrell and Larry Brown.  Fans of shows like “Breaking Bad” or “Justified” would also find much to enjoy – a strong sense of place, characters that leap off the page, a grim and intense story, and a relentless pace.

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