Three Questions For Christian Trimmer: Advice For Young Writers, Ben Clanton and SIMON’S NEW BED
In addition to being a debut picture book author, Christian Trimmer is an editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. I love his enthusiasm for kidlit/YA on his Twitter feed, plus he’s edited some pretty amazing books. Like THE DEATH AND LIFE OF ZEBULON FINCH by Daniel Kraus (here’s what I posted about the book), which comes out from S&S BFYR this October.
Synopsis of SIMON’S NEW BED, written by Christian Trimmer and illustrated by Melissa van der Paardt:
“After a lazy afternoon of watching cat and dog videos, I was inspired to write this harrowing tale of the deep-rooted tension that exists between siblings. Much like Cal and Aron Trask or the daughters of King Lear, Simon and Miss Adora Belle are in a never-ending battle for supremacy. Also, cats stealing dog beds!”
Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?
I’m a huge Ben Clanton fan. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers recently published his Something Extraordinary, which I was very fortunate to inherit from Julia Maguire (who is now at Random House). Ben’s stories are so sweet and playful, and his art is wonderfully expressive. He and I are working on a bunch more books together. He happened to be in New York for BEA this year, and we hung out at the Art Auction. He had donated a fantastic piece to the auction, and I put in a bid on it—I was desperate for more original art for my office, specifically Ben Clanton art. Ben saw my name on the sheet, and he was all, “Christian, you really don’t have to do that” to which I responded, “Ben, I want to do it” and he said, “I mean, you really don’t have to do that.” I thought he was just being modest or shy. At the last minute, someone outbid me. But as it turns out, which I discovered when we met at the S & S offices the next day, he had packed a different piece from the same series—this one—for me. All together now: Awwww!
Q. What advice do you have for young writers?
1. Be nice. To everyone.
I know that this is advice you give to a small child, but it’s really applicable when you’re an aspiring writer. Because when it’s time for your book to come out, the book that you’ve spent years perfecting, the story you’ve cried over and on, the manuscript that represents everything good about your mind and soul…you want people to think of you fondly. Because when people like you, they want to support you. So maybe they buy your book. Maybe they talk about your book with their teacher friends. Maybe they share your Facebook status update. More than that, you never know from where the next great opportunity is going to come. As an example, I recently ran into this restaurant manager that I’ve known for a couple of years. He’s a great guy and so good at his job, and I’m always happy to see him. This most recent time, I mentioned that my debut book, Simon’s New Bed, was about to come out. He was so genuinely excited for me, and not only that, he reached out to his mom who oversees the nursery division at one of the best schools in New York. Now, I’m scheduled to read to her students in October!
2. Everyone has her/his own path.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in our glorious industry. Advice is flying at you from every direction, advice from editors and agents and other writers, published and not. But it’s important to regularly remind yourself that this is your journey, and it’s not going to look like anyone else’s. For a long time, despite hungering to create something, I resisted writing. As a book editor, I’m surrounded daily by gifted writers, many of whom have studied the craft for years, who have masters degrees, who have written for TV shows, who have won awards. I often thought, Don’t bother. Leave it to the real professionals. But something clicked one day, this acceptance that I had something worthwhile to say. So I finally took the chance. And I sold the first picture book manuscript I wrote, and then the second, and then the third. I still have moments of insecurity, but I’m getting better. So, listen to the advice that others are giving you and take the advice that makes sense to you. Then, go create!
Q. What are you excited about right now?
My Fall 2015 list is AWESOME. I’m, of course, excited for all of those books, which you can find here. But I’d like to single out a novel that my colleague Ruta Rimas is editing called The Way I Used to Be. It’s by Amber Smith, and it’s beautiful and devastating and empowering. It comes out this March.
For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.