Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Q&A with Andrea Richesin: On Love, Rejection, Research, and Publishing

Andrea N. Richesin has compiled four anthologies in about as many years. All deal with love and relationships; each has a unique focus. Her latest, Crush, offers up 26 writers' recollections of their teenage (or sometimes nearly adult) crushes, first loves, and some of the lessons learned along the way.

While Richesin is busy (she's at work on book #5), she graciously found time to answer a few of my questions about her publishing experience.

Please describe the process you've used to create these anthologies. Did you ask the writers to create the essays specifically for this book? If so, how did you select the writers?
The process begins with the kernel of an idea. I’ve chosen topics I’ve personally grappled with myself like turning 30 (this now seems laughable on the cusp of 40, but running out of time was a neurotic obsession that plagued me) and the mother-daughter relationship. Then I contact the writers I admire and slowly begin to solicit their synopses. We often have an email correspondence about what their pieces will entail. They’re revealing very intimate details of their lives. So I feel honored that they have agreed to share these moments with me and to contribute their work. Once my agent and I have polished the final book proposal, she sends it to prospective editors. It’s usually only a bare outline of what the book will eventually become, but it’s a beginning. After I have a contract in place, I commission essays for the collection.
Did you have to turn down some of the essays you received, because they were too racy, too dull, or just ... not quite right? (And if so, how did you approach the rejection process?)   
Yes, unfortunately, I had to reject a few essays. That’s obviously the hardest part of editing an anthology. I occasionally have to turn away an essay because either it’s not a good fit for the collection or it doesn’t really address the theme of the book. In some instances, the writer is removed from the experience and it doesn’t feel authentic. I have offered kill fees to the writers who haven’t been included.
What does your writing/research schedule look like? (If you don't really have one, please let us know; it's encouraging to many of us!)
I’m the most disorganized person in the world. So I don’t have a schedule, although I do have deadlines to my publisher. This tends to rein in my efforts a bit. Otherwise, I would probably go on looking for essays forever. As for my own writing, I almost only write when inspiration strikes me. I realize this is very bad of me, but I’m afraid I’m not a shining example for your readers.
Did you have any sticky situations with the writers collected in these anthologies? Blown deadlines? Hurt feelings during the editing process? 
In the past, I’ve had to contend with hurt feelings a few times. I recognize that I’ve asked the contributors to bravely expose themselves and as a result, if their essays don’t suit the collection, that’s uncomfortable for me to admit. I would never presume to tell the writers with whom I work how to do their jobs. After all, they’re professional writers making their livelihood at this, but I would hope that they would respect my opinion and humbly accept my decision.
Truth time: do you have a manuscript tucked away in a desk drawer? what's it about?
I have made some half-hearted attempts at a memoir that I hope to one day finish. My mother’s parents’ legacy fascinates me and also serves as a cautionary tale. I would love to reinterpret it as a beautiful southern gothic fairy tale. I’d also like to preserve their memories and what they meant to me personally for my daughter and future generations.
That sounds very interesting! Thanks, Nicki, for your time and candid answers. Best of luck with Crush, and all that comes after. 

Spend more time with the author: www.nickirichesin.com


No comments: