An Interview with Editor Mallory Kass
Mallory Kass is a Senior Editor at Scholastic Press. She edits middle grade and young adult fiction. Her titles include A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Daughters of the Sea and Horses of the Dawn by Kathryn Lasky, and The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. She is also part of the editorial team responsible for The 39 Clues.
She’s interested in literary fiction with a commercial hook, historical fantasy, and anything with spectacular world building, particularly magic in unexpected places. For more information, check out her “editorial mood board” on Pinterest under the name EditorMal. Read the interview below to learn more.
Mallory Kass: I see my job as helping an author articulate his/her vision for their novel and then figuring out how to execute that vision in a way that will be compelling and emotionally satisfying for readers.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
MK: First and foremost, originality. Reading submissions can be like wandering through a crowded cocktail party where you find yourself making the same kind of small talk with each guest. It can be clever, amusing small talk, but the conversations start to blend together. However, finding the RIGHT manuscript is like bumping into the strangest, most fascinating person at the party—someone who introduces you to new ideas and sparks your imagination. Beyond an original voice, I look for debut authors who love language and story craft, and who take as much pleasure in revising as they do in writing.
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
MK: It’s certainly not critical. Social media can help a writer make connections within the publishing industry, and it’s a fun way to connect with readers, but I don’t believe it translates into book sales. If you enjoy it, then go for it. If it gives you anxiety, then you’re probably better off focusing your attention on your writing.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
MK: Make sure the reader has a reason to root for your character by making it clear what he wants, what he’s willing to do to get it, and what will happen if he fails.
Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor.
MK: I have a thing against zombies and swore that I’d never publish a zombie book. Then, I got a submission called Frost by M.P. Kozlowsky that completely blew my mind. The writing was so beautiful, the setting was so strange and haunting, and the characters were so compelling that it actually took me about 100 pages to realize that it had creatures in it similar to zombies. (They’re called something else, though.) That’s what great writing does, though. It makes you see the world in a different light! I fell head over heels for that manuscript and am proud to be publishing it in 2016.
— Thanks, Mallory!