Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interview with Faith Black

To bring books to our readers, we not only need the authors who write them, but the editors who buy them; therefore, for my first day as a contributor to the Avalon blog, I chose to interview the senior editor at Avalon Books, Faith Black to give readers and writers alike a glimpse into the person working to bring so many great reads to the public.

Q: When did you come to Avalon and were you an editor somewhere else before?

Faith: First of all, thanks to the Avalon authors for interviewing me for your lovely new blog. I’m honored. I came to Avalon in December 2006 as Associate Editor. Prior to that I had been working at Cambridge University Press in the humanities and social sciences working on nonfiction titles – mainly political science textbooks and religion and anthropology monographs. While at Cambridge I was actually a freelance proofreader for Avalon, so I was already familiar with the Avalon line of books and with several of the longstanding authors. I’ve been at Avalon for more than 2 years now (time flies!) and was promoted to Editor in April 2008.

Q: Why editing?

Faith: I figured out quite early on that editing was what I wanted to do. I think I was maybe in middle school when I thought, “So, let me get this straight, there’s a job where I can get paid to read for a living?! Where do I sign up?” It’s always been something I felt drawn to. I took creative writing classes in college and, while the writing itself was rewarding, the part of the class I most excelled at were the critiques and commentary on other classmates’ work. I’m a lifelong reader, and I think that my lifetime of reading has instilled in me a desire to try and make books as good as they can possibly be and an ability to see how that can be accomplished.

Q: Do you consider writing or do you write too? If so, what?

Fairh: When I was younger I dreamed of writing a novel (of course then that novel would go on to be a bestseller, get turned into a screenplay – starring John Cusack, which would then win an Oscar). But don’t we all. I’m much more comfortable on this side of the desk, editing other peoples’ work. I’ve written a few articles for online publications here and there, and the consummate student in me is, every so often, overcome with the (bizarre) urge to write a research paper, but I have no plans at the moment to delve much further into writing.

Q: We read a great deal about upheavals in publishing these days. What do you see as the future of print books, especially lovely hardcover books like those Avalon publishes?

Faith: People have been predicting the death of book publishing for years now and, even in light of the current economic climate and popularity of the Kindle and other e-readers, I just don’t see print books going the way of the dodo anytime soon. There will also be people, such as myself, who want to hold their book in their hand and physically turn the pages. There is something comforting about the physical weight of a book, about the feel of it in your hand, the smell of the pages. I’m not going to fall asleep in bed with my laptop or an e-reader snuggled closely to my chest. It doesn’t have the same feeling to it. Those of us who grew up reading books, who have such strong sense memories tied to them will always relish the real thing and pass this love on to future generations.

This is not, of course, to downplay the seriousness of the economic hardships that all businesses are facing right now. Thankfully, here at Avalon we’re doing just fine. Books are things that people turn to in times of hardship for escapism and we’re only too happy to provide that. In fact, I’ve heard from numerous sources that libraries (the main market for Avalon books) are seeing an upswing in circulation right now as more people turn to lending libraries for the reading enjoyment.

Q: For those not yet familiar with Avalon Books, will you tell us a bit about what the publisher buys?

Faith: Avalon publishes 60 books a year (6 cycles – one every two months – of 10 books each) in the genres of romance, mystery, and western. We publish both contemporary and historical romances while the mysteries are all contemporary and the westerns are all historical. We publish only family friendly material. And our romances are strictly of the “sweet” variety. That means no sex (or even the insinuation of it). I know, I know. But trust me, you can have a truly entertaining, sparkling romance without sex. And in case you were wondering, nope, no sex in the mysteries or the westerns either. Also, there shouldn’t be foul language or a lot of drinking. Because of our family friendly rules, we get a lot of submissions of inspirational literature, but this isn’t what we do either. We’re not a Christian publisher and we don’t publish inspirational literature of any kind.

Our guidelines are spelled out in detail on our Web site:

Q: Anything else you wish to add?

Faith: As I think this blog makes apparent, Avalon authors are a very special group of people. There’s a definite sense of community amongst them which I am only too happy, as an editor, to foster. We’re a small publisher and we try to give as much individual attention to our authors as possible. I think the authors who started up this blog are doing a great job getting the Avalon name out there in a positive light and hopefully this will attract other authors to come and join us in publishing quality reading for the entire family.


I.J. Parnham said...

Nice interview. I've also heard a few comments that library borrowing picks up during recessions (not of course that we're having a recession).

Elisabeth Rose said...

Hi Faith. How interesting to hear a little of your background. I totally agree with your comments about the feel and smell of a proper book. Reading in bed has to be one of the great simple pleasures of life LOL

LaVerne St. George said...

Thank you so much, Faith, for agreeing to this interview and to you Laurie for posting it. I'm so very happy to hear that Avalon Books is doing well in this economic climate and that libraries are not hurting for patrons. That's good for authors, readers and ultimately for our future. Hooray for a good book!

Sandy Cody said...

Good to hear from you, Faith - especially something about YOU. All of my conversations with you have been about me and my books. It's nice to hear about you and your background, your feelings about books. I totally agree with you about the feel and smell of a book in one's hands. Thanks so much for being part of this. Another thanks to Laurie Alice for making it happen.

Tessa McDermid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tessa McDermid said...

Thanks, Faith and Laurie Alice, for the update on Avalon. Learning about your background and how you ended up at Avalon was interesting, Faith. Getting paid to read is a good mix for those who get paid to make up stories ;).

Loretta C. Rogers said...

As an Avalon author, I have to say that I enjoy being an "Avalon" author. Why? Because Faith and Chelsea are approachable. It's such a pleasure to have editors who are friendly,who make their authors feel--special. I enjoyed reading Faith's interview. Thanks, Laurie Alice for spearheading this.

Christine Bush said...

I so agree with the comments about the "eternal" place that books have in our life. I love a book, right in my hand. Technology can give us other options, and is suitable for many things. I guess we are lucky to live in a world where there is room for both. As a writer, I love the fact that Avalon books are hardcover, and so accessible in our libraries forever. Nothing gives me joy like hearing from a reader who just read one of my ealiest books. It's so great to have our blog up and running, and a treat to hear from Faith.
Keep on writing and reading everybody!

Roni Denholtz said...

It was wonderful to read your interview, Faith. And thanks to Laurie Alice for interviewing you!
I have several friends who are librarians and it is true: libraries are being frequented more, now that the economy is having troubles. And during stressful times more people turn to books for entertainment and to forget about their problems!
Avalon Books offer clean, fun entertainment!

Debby Mayne said...

Thanks for the peek into your life, Faith! I'm glad to know that libraries are doing well. Avalon was where I sold my very first book, and it will always have a special place in my heart.

Janet Spaeth said...

Thanks for the interview. Avalon will always be very dear to me. I read through the ones in the library as quickly as I could when I discovered them. And I liked that they came out regularly so I always had something to look forward to.

carol said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing to positive outlook for Avalon. I love libraries. So glad things are positive from than angle.

Thanks for all the organizing, Laurie Alice.
Carol Hutchens