#80: A Sneak Peek at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference: An Interview with G.P. Putnam’s Sons editor Stacey Barney, by Maria Gagliano

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With so many adults reading YA fiction these days, writers crafting young characters might struggle to decide where their work falls on the spectrum. For publishers, the line between YA and adult fiction is absolutely clear—regardless of who the end reader might be.

We spoke with G.P. Putnam’s Sons Senior Editor Stacey Barney about her process for acquiring YA fiction. Stacey will also share her insights at our panel “But Will It Sell?” at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference on Sunday, September 11.

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#79: A Sneak Peek at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference: An Interview with literary agent Andrea Barzvi, by Maria Gagliano

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If writing a book isn’t enough to max out a writer’s brain, the pressure to ‘build a platform’ also looms for anyone hoping to land an agent and publisher. But what does having a ‘platform’ really mean? And how do the rules change based on the kind of book you’re writing?

We chatted with literary agent Andrea Barzvi about the nuances of building a following before your book is published. Andrea will talk more about this on our panel “Plugged In” at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference on Sunday, September 11.
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#78: A Sneak Peek at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference: An Interview with Ballantine/Penguin Random House editor Sara Weiss, by Maria Gagliano

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As writers, we spend so much time on our craft that it can be hard to imagine pitching our book as a product that will “sell” to thousands of consumers. But if we want to connect with an agent or publisher, that’s essentially what we need to do: convince them that readers will want to buy our book. It’s a difficult mind shift after spending months—often years—looking at our writing as art. In truth, we have to see it both ways: as a work of art, and as a product that will sell.

We chatted with Ballantine Senior Editor Sara Weiss about the fine line between art and sales when she’s considering a book for publication. Sara will talk more about this on our panel “But Will It Sell?” at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference on Sunday, September 11.

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An Interview with Jeffrey Thomson, by Heidi Sistare

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Jeffrey Thomson’s most recent book, fragile, is a memoir that covers years and many miles, exploring our relationship to the natural world and to risk. It’s a story that gives us unfettered access to Thomson’s thoughts; we share his experiences with travel, teaching, fatherhood, and the edge between living and dying. In addition to being a memoirist, Thomson is a poet, translator, and teacher. I spoke with Thomson about place, collaboration, and his current project—a historical novel inspired by Thomson’s own ancestry set in the 1700s. He also shares the most important lessons he hopes to impart to his students and reminds us: “Writing is about learning. Always.”

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An Interview with Mira Ptacin, by Olga Kreimer

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Mira Ptacin’s debut memoir, Poor Your Soul, about the grief of losing an unexpected pregnancy at twenty-eight, is not depressing. This might be surprising; between that event and the braided-in story of her brother’s sudden death at sixteen, you expect tears before you’re done reading the dust jacket summary. But the slice of her history that Mira’s book offers is full of color and nuance, peppered with details and even humor that breathe life into all its layers. The result will probably still make you cry. But it’s the familiar details that bring it home, the flashes of recognition of sticky youth, new love, New York City sidewalks, iron-willed parents, teenage cigarettes, petulant silences, 80s fashion, puzzling neighbors, unexpected joy—and of grief and pain, yes, but also of irrepressible resilience.

Skyping from her home on Peaks Island, Maine, while her newborn daughter Simone mostly napped, Mira shared some thoughts about the book, what she’s learned, and what keeps her from Googling herself.

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An Interview with Andrew Malan Milward, by Liz Mathews

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In considering Midwestern states, there are lots of things that the general population doesn’t know—that even the residents of those particular states don’t know. Consider Kansas. Were you aware that the largest-circulating Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, was published in Kansas City? Or that women were granted the right to vote in Kansas eight years before the federal government made it an amendment? Or that male impotence can be cured by the implantation of a goat testicle? Actually, that one is not true, but a man named John R. Brinkley was pretty good at selling the claim, and he had several unsuccessful bids for governor of Kansas.

All of those things I learned about Kansas upon reading Andrew Malan Milward’s story collection, I Was a Revolutionary (HarperCollins). And after reading, I had the chance to ask Milward about what drew him to Kansas (aside from being born there), and what it was like to take curious historical fact and create illuminating historical fiction. He also touched on important things like writing stories versus writing novels, writing processes in general, and what writing journeys he’s bound for next. Please, meet Andrew Malan Milward.

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#29: Chris Offutt

Here’s the sixth and final installment in our special collection of In the Telling podcasts: stories, essays, and poetry by our 2015 Pushcart Nominees. Each episode includes an introduction by our editors. The series is curated by Joseph Scalora.

In this episode, nonfiction editor Christopher Locke discusses why he nominated Chris Offutt’s essay “At Last, Sex” (Issue 17) for the Pushcart Prize, and then Offutt reads his essay.

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#27: Mona Awad

Here’s the fourth installment in our special collection of In the Telling podcasts: stories, essays, and poetry by our 2015 Pushcart Nominees. Each episode includes an introduction by our editors. The series is curated by Joseph Scalora.

In this episode, editor-in-chief Elizabeth Blachman discusses why she nominated Mona Awad’s story “Hearts and Minds” (Issue 17) for the Pushcart Prize, and then Awad reads her story.

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