A Coffee Date with Swoon Reads Editor Holly West
Each week we try to give you some thoughts from our Swoon Reads authors, but this week we decided to let them ask the questions. See what their editor Holly West came up with in response!
Jenny Elliott: What do you most desire in a romantic relationship?
Holly West (HW): That’s easy. I think the most important thing in any relationship is trust. And it’s even more important in romance, because you are going to have to trust this person with your heart — something that is easily breakable.
Jenny Elliott: What qualities do you most admire/swoon over in a love interest?
HW: Loyalty (I have a thing — a really, really BIG thing — about cheating. So big that I won’t even read about it, at least not when it involves the hero/heroine. It kind of makes me feel like I’m a terrible judgmental person, but really, cheaters can die in a fire.) and also very important — a compatible sense of humor.
Temple West: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever witnessed (or done yourself) in the course of seeing a book through to publication?
HW: I actually have some fairly fun stories, but I don’t know that I’m allowed to share them. I think they might be confidential. (But I will say that one of them involves a Yeti suit!)
Temple West: What is the most exhilarating and/or stressful step in the publishing process, as an editor?
HW: Hmm… good question. The most exhilarating step in the publishing process… Maybe it’s that moment when you read a submission and tumble head over heels in love with it… and if so, the most stressful step would be taking things to acquisitions and negotiating with agents, because I’m always worried that someone else will sweep in and take the book away, or that I’ll do a bad job of convincing everyone that this is the most wonderful book ever, and the company won’t give me the money to buy the book. (Fortunately, Swoon Reads is fabulous in that there is a whole different sort of acquisitions process, so I don’t have to worry about that bit of stress.)
Or maybe the most exhilarating moment is when you’ve just read the final draft of a manuscript and you realize that after all the hard work and edit notes and brainstorming back and forth the author has completely nailed it and it’s ready to be shipped off to copyediting and on to publication. That’s a pretty amazing feeling…
And if that’s the best, then the most stressful moment is definitely those times when something isn’t working, and I have to tell an author no. I really am not a fan of confrontation, and, as an editor, I am a fixer at heart, so that moment when I have to admit that there is a problem that just can’t be solved is really, really painful for me. Also, I really like and admire all the authors I work with, so I hate to be the bearer of bad news!
And of course, there’s the various squees and happy dances that happen when we have confirmation of a new acquisition or when the actual physical books appear on my desk — those are pretty exhilarating too!
Karole Cozzo: Which YA protagonist do you most closely identify with? Why?
HW: Probably Beauty from Robin McKinley’s retellings of Beauty and the Beast. She loves books and animals, is tougher than people expect, but is still nurturing and caring, has a few unexpected skills, and is confident in them, but is still awkward around boys, and I really, really, really want her library!
Karole Cozzo: Which YA love interest makes you swoon the hardest? Why?
HW: Why are you asking me to choose among my harem of book boyfriends? It’s really a bad idea. First, because I’m absolutely terrible at making decisions, and choosing favorites, and secondly because you know that they will all get jealous if I play favorites…
Kim Karalius: Do you like to snack while reading? If so, what’s your favorite food to eat while reading a good book?
HW: I actually had to train myself out of this. I used to snack and read all the time, but it never really worked out for me, since I would either get too caught up in the book and ignore my snack, or would be so caught up in the book that I would eat the entire bag of chips/pretzels/chex mix/combos/etc. And then there was the terrible day when I accidentally knocked over my drink and spilled greasy snack foods all over my book… it was kind of tragic. So now, if I’m hungry enough when reading to notice it, I make myself stop and eat and watch a TV show or something, and then go back to the book afterwards.
Kim Karalius: What do you love most about owning a physical copy of a book?
HW: I have a very good spacial memory, especially when it comes to books, which means that I can almost always remember exactly what shelf the book I want is on and, more importantly, can remember roughly how far into the book that one scene was. And I’m a huge re-reader by nature (which is very helpful as an editor), so I’ll often want to pick up a book and just read this one favorite scene. It’s fairly easy with a physical copy, because I have a knack for opening them up pretty close to the section I want, but it’s not something I can do with an e-book, as I a) never remember to bookmark anything and b) usually don’t know what scene I’m going to want to re-read until I get the urge.
Sandy Hall: On the site we have something called the Swoon Index that measures the amount of Heat, Laugher, Tears, and Thrills in each manuscript. Can you tell me something (or someone!) that always:
Turns up the heat?
HW: Am I allowed to say Jensen Ackles? I think I am.
But if you mean in books… then it’s that moment when the love interest does something that really, truly shows that they know their love inside and out. That they are paying attention to the little things. Also, going back to an earlier question, I find loyalty (and scenes that exhibit trust) to be really hot and sexy.
Makes you laugh?
HW: Again, I think I’m going to go with Jensen Ackles. What? He’s funny!
And in books, it’s witty banter all the way. I have a weakness for clever dialogue and a really good back and forth will have me giggling out loud as I read.
Makes you cry?
HW: LOOK AT WHAT HE DOES WITH HIS FACE!!! It’s really, really sad! — especially when it comes as a gut punch right in the middle or end of an otherwise funny episode.
Also, dead pets and sick lit. I hate to cry, so I avoid both of them like the plague. Yes… you heard me. I do NOT read sick lit, so I have not read The Fault in Our Stars and I’m not going to… ever. Sorry!
Sets your heart pumping?
HW: Look, I’m just going to be honest, the answer to all these questions is Jensen Ackles.
But, I do love a good action scene, and I especially love a good action scene that revolves around people having to be smart and sneaky. Rogues and thieves are the best and I always enjoy the tension of trying to sneak around and not get caught!
Katie Van Ark: Who is your favorite fictional couple?
HW: Why are you people so mean to me with the impossible questions? No. It’s fine. It’s just that, as previously stated, I’m absolutely terrible at picking favorites. And honestly I don’t have one OTP I have (quite literally) hundreds, possibly thousands, of fictional couples that I absolutely adore. Asking me to choose just one is painful, and it also changes rapidly depending on mood, blood sugar, and how recently I’ve re-read or re-watched or been reminded of the work in question.
Katie Van Ark: What would your dream date be?
HW: Well, since I’m the most contradictory person ever, I actually have two completely opposite dream dates. Part of me loves the idea of doing something wild and impulsive, and I’ve always loved the word ‘go,’ so I really like the idea of throwing a dart at a map and then just jetting off to whatever country it lands on and doing something really specific to that setting. Like having a picnic in a field of heather in the highlands of Scotland or taking a hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback. But then the other half of me insists that there is literally nothing better than staying in with a home-cooked meal (What? I like feeding people. I’m Southern.) and just hanging out, curled up together on the couch or bed playing video games or reading or watching a favorite show.