Today I’m chatting to Nicole Frail, editor at Skyhorse Publishing (and editor of THE WANDERERS!).
Kate Ormand: Hi Nicole! Thanks for stopping by. Do you remember when THE WANDERERS first landed in your inbox? First impressions?
Nicole Frail: I remember thinking, “Oh, this is different!” I feel like the shapeshifters in recent books are typically werewolves, and it was refreshing to find that a horse, a bear, tigers, and elephants were going to be part of this one. Also, I wanted to know more about the circus world. Why are these kids here? And how is this life affecting their development and their relationships with one another?
KO: What makes a good impression for you with a new YA submission, which could then potentially lead to an offer? Some examples?
NF: New ideas are the most attractive to me, whether it’s in the setting or the character or the overall theme. I (like all of us) want something that hasn’t been done before. Or, if it has been done before, I want it to be done differently or better than the previous attempts.
When you look at characters, though, I’m more drawn to the more relatable characters and the ones kind of on the outskirts. Those who have something to prove or who want to break free from a certain reputation or label they’ve found attached to them their whole lives.
I’m also a big fan of multiple POVs. I love seeing the story unfold from different angles.
Oh, and if there’s no plot, there’s typically no offer!
KO: We’ve talked first impressions, but what about when you’ve read something – what stuck with you after reading THE WANDERERS for the first time?
NF: The setting really stuck with me for this one. It was so different compared to everything else I’d worked on to that point. And it was so easy to visualize the big tent, with the characters cleaning it up between shows and behind the curtains and off to the sides between acts. I also thought a lot about the outside of the tent—the camp the teens were sharing, Hari’s trailer, their group around the fire for meals. The sense of community both on-stage and off stuck with me.
KO: What do you look for/make note of when reading any new YA submission for the first time? Some examples?
NF: The beginning has to hook me; typically I give a submission three chapters to work itself out, because I’ve often found that the real, perfect first chapter is somewhere in there. Or if it’s not, the idea for it is. The voice throughout has to be consistent, and the ending has to be realistic. Not in the sense that it could happen to you or to me, but it has to make sense with the rest of the story.
While I read, I also highlight everything that makes me roll my eyes: any dialogue that’s really corny, anything that’s too convenient, stereotyping, inconsistencies in character’s attitudes/back story. When I look back at all that, I decide whether these things are little fixes or if the book would need a total overhaul.
KO: Flo’s a horse shifter. What animal would you transform into if you could choose? I think I’d quite like to be one of the parrots!
NF: Oh, this is hard. I don’t want to say something lame like a housecat (even though I would love to spend my days doing nothing but sleeping and eating). Hm… I think I’d want to be a monkey. Swinging from one place to another seems like a great way to be able to get around.
KO: Hehe! Good choice! And to finish, can you share one of your favourite quotes or scenes from THE WANDERERS?
NF: When Flo is in horse form for the first time in the book.
“Are you ready?” Jett turns around slowly. He looks at me and smiles. I smile back, I think, by curling back my upper lip. Warm breath surrounds my face in a thin cloud, visible in the crisp air for a second before disappearing altogether.
Jett takes a step toward me and carefully reaches out to me. He runs his hand down my long nose and I tilt my head to let him, nuzzling his side. He laughs. “You’re so beautiful,” he says. The girl in me loves to hear him say that.
KO: Thanks so much!
Follow Nicole on Twitter: @nfrail17