Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Julia Weis, an Interview with Avalon's Assistant Editor

Q: 1: You’re new to Avalon. Tell us a bit about what brought you here; i.e., what is your background in publishing?

A: Well, I always knew that I wanted to do something with writing. I studied English literature and creative writing in college and soon after graduation, I acquired a job as a Proofreader at a local newspaper and quickly worked my way up to Features Reporter. I then took a position as an Associate Editor at a b2b travel publication, which gave me the opportunity to explore feature writing for a trade magazine while taking part in one of my favorite pastimes – travel. When an opening eventually presented itself at Avalon – I jumped for the chance to work with such a hard-working and talented group of people, knowing that professionally I really wanted to dabble in all aspects of publishing: newspaper, magazine and book.

Q: What got you interested in books; e.g., childhood influences.

A: I can’t remember a time where I was ever not interested in books! I was the kid who always got in trouble for reading a book under her desk in class while the teacher was trying to give a lesson. (Sorry Mom!)

Q: What book or books have made the most impact on your life, or at least reading life?

A: The first book that ever really spoke to me was Lois Lowry’s The Giver. I read it when I was about nine years old, and I remember being completely shaken up by it, re-reading it over and over, feeling like a veil had been lifted from over my eyes. The Phantom Tollbooth was also a childhood favorite. Since then, many other books have been influential: Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams, and Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles.

Q: As an editor, what type of books do you seek? What elements of character and setting, background and conflicts, etc.?

A: As per Avalon’s guidelines, I’m first and foremost seeking wholesome stories. After that, it’s really important to me that the characters in a story are engaging, realistic and well-rounded. There’s nothing I hate more than a flat protagonist chasing who-knows-what that I couldn’t care less about. I want to feel invested in the story I’m reading. I want to root for the characters – make me care! I’d also like to see writers expand their horizons a bit and culturally diversify the background of their characters, the settings that the stories take place in, etc.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: When I’m not working, I like to travel, cook, try new restaurants, scour farmers’ markets, explore design/antique fairs, and yes – read.

Q: You now work in New York. Are you a native New Yorker, from nearby, or a transplant? Regardless of your background there, what do you like most about the city?

A: I was born in New York, but I actually grew up in Texas. I made my way back to the city for college, and liked it so much that I decided to stick around. The diversity and accessibility of NYC is what appeals to me most. I love that I never know what I’m going to see or what adventures I’m going to get into when I exit my apartment each morning. The city has a great energy and creative pulse that I’ve yet to see another city (domestic or international) replicate in quite the same way.

Q: We hear and read a great deal about publishing getting away from print books, away from traditional publishing, and so on. What, if any, changes do you seeing publishing in the next few years?

A: What you hear about publishing moving away from traditional print form is obviously true. If the rising popularity of e-book readers says anything, it’s that the digitization of books is here to stay. Nevertheless, Avalon isn’t making any drastic transformations to its publishing program. As with many readers and publishers, we still very much value hardcover, print books and look forward to continue being a part of their development.

Q: Anything Else you would like to add?

A: I look forward to working with you all!


I.J. Parnham said...


Loretta C. Rogers said...

Julia, nice getting to know you. Enjoyed the interview. I, too, look forward to working with you.


Sandy Cody said...

Julia, thanks for giving us a chance to get to know you. I enjoyed the interview and, as everyone else has said, look forward to working with you.

Beate Boeker said...

Laurie and Julie, thank you so much! That was very interesting . . .

Sarita Leone said...

I'm so glad to hear I wasn't the only one getting in trouble for hiding a book beneath my desk while the teacher was at the blackboard! Too funny!

Elisabeth Rose said...

Thanks Laurie for sharing the chat with Julia. It's nice to have a little background to the person behind the name.

Loretta Brabant said...

It's great to get to know a bit more about you, Julia. Looking foward to working with you too!Great interview Laurie!

Tessa McDermid said...

Thank you for sharing with us, Julia. And thank you for thinking of this, Laurie.

Christine Bush said...

Welcome to Julia! It was fun to have a moment to meet you at the NJRW conference in October, and now to hear a bit about you. Thanks!

Joselyn Vaughn said...

What a nice interview! Excited to have you at Avalon.