Interview with Editor Brendan Deneen - Win a Critique!

Alas, we've reached the final day of epic-ness.  I know, I'm sad, too.  But don't despair, next week I have loads of information to share from my amazing trip to RWA Nationals, so stay tuned. 

Now, on to another interview of fabulosity (yes, I'm inventing words; it's allowed on Friday)--editor Brendan Deneen of Thomas Dunne books.

BIO: Editor, Thomas Dunne Books (a division of St. Martin's Press), former Agent, Co-author of the comic book series FLASH GORDON, Also known as the book-to-film guy. Most recent deal listed on Publisher's Market Place - Julie Cross's TEMPEST

Other Recent Deals: Mathew Costello's VACATION, David Wong's THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS a sequel to JOHN DIES AT THE END

What was it about Julie’s novel that captured you?  What made her story stand out?
I had been looking for a young adult time travel novel for a long time…I think for at least a year or two.  What captured me about Julie’s book (previously called ENEMIES OF TIME) was the premise: a young man witnesses his girlfriend’s murder and then jumps away by accident.  It was the perfect set up.  And was exactly what I’d been looking for.
What kind of submission would you love to see come across your desk?  What are you tired of seeing?
I’m honestly tired of vampires.  I’m just sick of them.  And I know there are lots of great vampire stories still to be told.  I’m a fan of them, in theory.  But it just feels like overkill at this point.  And I’m getting there with zombies, too.  I want whatever is next.  My gut had been telling me it was time travel.  And now I have my YA time travel book.  What’s after that?  A friend of mine suggested an underwater tale.  That’s a tough one to pull off but you never know…….  And I’d love to see a great YA or adult ghost story.  Will someone please scare the shit out of me?
What excites you the most about your job?  What’s the part you find the most challenging?

The most exciting thing is finding great new writers.  Two of the books I’ve bought since becoming an editor are by first-time authors.  The idea of finding never-before-published yet extremely talented writers is still super exciting for me.  Maybe it’s because I’ve written four unpublished novels!  I wall-papered my bathroom in college with rejection letters.  Perhaps I want to save someone else’s bathroom from the same torture.  The most challenging aspect is learning the infrastructure of a massive publishing company.  I didn’t come through the system as an assistant, so I have to constantly remind myself that there’s more than just reading and editing.  There’s SO many aspects to being an editor; it’s a LOT of work.  Luckily, it’s an AWESOME job, so I’m not complaining.
You’ve done a lot of work on the film side of things.  I often finish a book and think—wow, this would make a great movie.  But obviously, only a select few are chosen for that medium.  So, in your opinion, what elements make a story more suitable for that format?

It’s almost impossible to predict.  So much of it is timing; a great director happens to want a certain genre and a certain book happens to cross his desk at the right moment.  A studio head saw that any given movie was #1 at the box office so he wants the next movie like it.  But that being said, it’s important, especially these days, to have a commercial hook.  Romance, action, intrigue, adventure.  And most importantly, great characters.   I think authors should write what’s in their gut.  If it’s a great story and told with emotional honesty, Hollywood will take notice.

We all know that beginnings are vital in hooking a reader.  However, there’s been a lot of debate among the writing blogosphere about starting with immediate action vs. the glimpse into the ordinary world.  What do you like to see in a beginning?
I think beginnings should start with a bang.  I’m a big fan of starting in the middle of the action and then pulling a “24 hours earlier” type of thing in chapter one.  But if you’re going to start in the ordinary world, it needs to be funny or exciting or something.  I’m not going to read 50 pages of someone making a sandwich.  Unless it’s the most incredible sandwich ever invented.  Crap, now I’m hungry.

When you get time (if you ever do) to read for pleasure, what are your go to genres or authors?

I almost never read for pleasure, sadly.  For awhile, I was reading the Harry Potter books when on summer vacation.  I’ve actually never read The Lord of the Rings books (except The Hobbit), so I keep telling myself that I’ll read them on one of my upcoming vacations.  

Thanks so much to Brendan for answering our questions and for donating a query or 5-pg. critique!  To see the rest of his interview, make sure you stop by Julie's blog.

Also, if you haven't entered the contest yet, you have until MIDNIGHT (central) on Sunday to do so.  Six winners will be randomly selected and announced on both blogs early next week.

Today is also the final day to receive bonus entries.  FOR TODAY ONLY, I will also count a facebook mention like a twitter mention.  Just fill out the form below and check I tweeted (even if it was on facebook).  And remember, you can't earn a bonus entry unless you've already filled out the main contest form (link at top of page.)

Thank you to everyone who has pimped this contest this week.  We can't even tell you how appreciative we are.  Good luck to everyone who has entered!