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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Youth and New York Editors

Are American editors getting younger? Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the warmly received pre-teen series The Mother-Daughter Book Club, and mother of teenaged sons, thinks so.
"I had always had this vision of an editorial relationship with an older, wiser, mentor type of editor -- think Maxwell Perkins, Ursula Nordstrom, William Maxwell," she says. And her editor with Simon & Schuster turned out to be a bright young thing! However, Heather likes her so much that she enticed her to come along with her to Vassar College, where she wanted to do a bit of research at the library. "So we get off the train in Poughkeepsie, and the taxi driver takes one look at us and says to me, "Here to get your daughter settled at the college, are you?"
The editor, bless her, was embarrassed. Heather found it hilarious. She forgot to tell me about the cabbie's reaction.
My own editor with Algonquin Books, Antonia Fusco, who was another bright young thing when I first met her about five years ago, has made the inspiring and courageous decision to make a mid-career swerve, and leave to teach at a high-needs Brooklyn school. I will miss her sadly, and greatly admire her sense of vocation . . . but now wonder if she has done it before she hits that rapidly lowering age median for New York editors!

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