Meet your 2017 Graduate Assistants and Student Aides

Rachael Kelly, Internship Graduate Assistant

Rachael is a loud-and-proud lover of the written word. Born in Canada but raised in Arizona, she left the Grand Canyon State in 2012 to study journalism and law at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The self-proclaimed bibliophile got her start writing about real estate and art, but most recently worked in communications where she designed marketing mockups, took photos, and made videos for the oldest law school in Canada. When she wasn’t at the farmers’ market or at work, she was copyediting two novels and one nonfiction work that went to print this past summer. She’s very much looking forward to learning the ins-and-outs of publishing and managing the MS Pace Publishing Blog. You’ll often find Rachael with a coffee in one hand and a book or magazine in the other reading about art, history, or contemporary culture. 



Kimberly Holcombe, Publishing Lab Graduate Assistant

Kimberly Holcombe was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She received her BA in English with a Creative Writing minor and her MA in Writing at Coastal Carolina University. For the past two years, Kimberly was the design editor, copyeditor, and managing editor of CCU’s online literary journal, Waccamaw. Waccamaw is where she found her passion for the publishing industry, bringing her to Pace University’s M.S. in Publishing program. At Pace, Kimberly will be the graduate assistant in the publishing lab, maintaining the lab and helping students when needed. She will also help write posts on the M.S. in Publishing blog. When she isn’t working, writing fiction, or editing, she is listening to music, playing video games, or hanging out with friends.

Bryan Potts, Pace University Press Graduate Assistant

Bryan Potts is an incoming graduate student in the M.S. in Publishing program. A proud Jersey boy, Bryan was a Literature major (concentration in Creative Writing) and International Business minor at Ramapo College of New Jersey. While at Ramapo, he was part of the editorial team for Trillium, the college’s student-run creative writing magazine and proudly served as the student representative on a council to reconfigure the structure of Ramapo’s general education courses. He also served as a consultant at the Center for Reading and Writing on campus and was a Supplemental Instructor for the Educational Opportunity Fund program for two summers. Editing and writing are two loves of his life, though he also dreams of one day owning and operating his own Murakami-esque jazz bar. He is an avid board and video gamer and is especially interested in studying the publication and editorial processes that tie-in products, novelizations, and multimedia projects.

Elliane Mellet, Pace University Press Graduate Assistant

Ely Mellet was born and raised in Houston, Texas but moved to Chicago to study Journalism and Graphic Design at Loyola University. Ely interned at the Better Government Association helping to hold government officials accountable and was a terrible radio host at her university’s radio station. She had hoped to publish news articles that would change the world but soon realized that books were much more influential in instilling change and offering new perspectives. Ely is a graduate assistant for the Pace University Press and will be aiding in the editing and production process for the journals published there. Ely is excited to begin her first year in the M.S. in Publishing program at Pace, but not excited about New York winters.

Jennifer Thompson, Office Student Aide

Jennifer Thompson is in her second year in the program with an expected graduation date of May 2018. From Atlanta, GA, she went to Pennsylvania State University for undergrad and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Psychology. She loves to travel and has been to England, France, and Costa Rica. (She will be in Thailand in January.) Besides her obvious passion for books and reading, she has a special interest in children’s books because she doesn’t want to grow up. In her Student Aide position, she will be handling any and all office-related tasks, as well as helping out with the blog.

Lin Wu (Grace), Publishing Lab Student Aide

Lin Wu (Grace) is a current M.S. in Publishing student at Pace University. She graduated from Kent State University in Ohio with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. After being an editor’s assistant back in China at a local magazine publisher years ago, she started to have a passion for magazine publishing and production. Grace is very excited to learn about publishing through this program and working towards her goals. 


Looking forward to getting to know you all!

 

Course Spotlight: Modern Technology

Technology in the handsPub 620: Modern Technology

“What is new this year is storytelling, creating and prototyping mobile apps, [and] the discussion of virtual reality [and] its future in publishing.

We will use Adobe Creative suite and other cloud based programs and learning will be done using tutorials.

This course will provide an introduction to content management systems and their role in current trends in publishing. Discussions are based on overall technology issues as well as publishing content.”


Official Course Description:

Technology has become an integral part the publishing industry. New Media thrives on the various ways information flows. Multimedia technologies can shape the flow of information in culture. Digital Asset Management (DAM) will be discussed in detail, as well as the components of a content management system (as it pertains to the publishing industry).

Professor Jodylynn Bachiman
Professor Jodylynn Bachiman

Current trends in technology will be discussed during classes. The idea is to broaden your knowledge of the industry, regardless of its method of delivery. Specifically, the topics of Web 2.0, Web 3.0, social media trends, and online content. How are these paradigm shifts shaping the future of publishing, and will it change the current landscape of traditional media forever?

We will utilize Adobe Creative Suite applications to create infographics, storytelling, and mobile application prototypes.

modern technology objectives
Professor Bachiman has a few guest speakers planned and lined up for the semester.

Pub 620: Modern Technology can be taken as an elective and counts for the Information Systems in Publishing Requirement.

This class is about YOU! It is my responsibility to set the tone for your own projects and to be certain that you stay on track.”

Pace Alumni Named in Publishers Weekly Star Watch 2016

imgresPace alumni Hannah Bennett was just recognized by Publisher’s Weekly second annual Star Watch. Star Watch is designed to formally acknowledge young professionals in publishing who have promise as future leaders within the industry. Hannah graduated from Pace in 2012 and is now the current Managing Editor at RosettaBooks.

As per the article: “Poetry aside, there is nothing Zen-like in Bennett’s workaday world. When she joined RosettaBooks in 2012, it published only backlist e-books. Now, with a print frontlist that she and her team built from scratch, it is a bona fide trade nonfiction publisher. “We’ve got an efficient and coaaeaaqaaaaaaaah3aaaajdu3nwzmowuzltuzmtytnge4mc05zjnilti1ztazmtg4zwm0mgmpetitive program that I’m truly proud of,” she says. Upcoming on the list that she has forged is a book by the radio talk show host Delilah and a memoir by Dawit Habte, which she describes as the “harrowing story of a brilliant Eritrean refugee who now works for Bloomberg.” When Bennett is not working with such high-profile experts as the legal eagle Alan Dershowitz and the Silicon Valley guru John Sculley, she gives her time to the Women’s National Book Association, for which she has recently taken on the role of president of the New York City chapter. She is particularly excited about a women-in-comics panel that she is organizing with Pen + Brush. Other un-Zen-like activities include serving on the advisory board of Rosetta and tweaking the draft of a book that she just completed.”

You can read more about Publishers Weekly’s Star Watch, as well as see more from Publishers Weekly, here.

Bennett has also done an Alumni Interview with Professor Jane Kinney-Denning, which can be found here.

Interview with Susan Katz, the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor

Interview with Susan Katz, David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor
for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

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It is an honor to have Susan Katz serving as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2015-2016 academic year. Ms. Katz joined Harper & Row in 1987 as President and Publisher of the College Division and as a member of the Executive Committee. In 1996, Katz made the transition from educational to trade publishing and became President of the HarperCollins Children’s Division, which is the position she held for 19 years until her retirement this past September.

During her tenure, Katz tripled the revenues of the division and had published more NEW YORK TIMES children’s bestsellers than any other publisher. She had the honor of working with such authors and illustrators such as Eric Carle, Kiera Cass, Neil Gaiman, Robin Preiss Glasser, Daniel Handler, Kevin Henkes, Kadir Nelson, Jane O’Connor, Lauren Oliver, Veronica Roth, Maurice Sendak, Sara Shepard, and Shel Silverstein.

Katz was a member of the Advisory Board of First Book and a member of the Children’s Book Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Boston University and a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Jane O’Connor and one of her books Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth

Her first lecture will take place on Thursday, October 29th, 2015 at Pace University, 163 Williams St, 18th floor, from 6-8pm, where she will be discussing her experiences in Children’s Books Publishing as well as what goes into the making of a bestselling book with two of her colleagues, Jane OConnor, the author of the Fancy Nancy picture book series, as well as her editor, Margaret Anastas, Professor Jane Denning had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Katz as she assumes her new role at Pace. The pair discussed what she hopes to accomplish as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor as well as some advice she has to offer to current Pace M.S. in Publishing students.

Prof. Denning: Hi Susan and thank you for agreeing to do this interview! Congratulations on being named the Visiting David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2015-2016 academic year. Can you tell us a bit about what you hope to accomplish this year at Pace?

Susan Katz: Thank you. I am very excited to have the opportunity to share some of my experiences with students here at Pace. I have always enjoyed hearing an “insider’s view’ of any profession that interests me because it becomes less mysterious and yet more interesting the more I learn. I hope students will find the information as well as my stories and anecdotes useful and entertaining in equal measure. 

Prof. Denning: As the Visiting Professor, you will be giving two lectures throughout the course of the year. What do you want students to take away from these lectures? Any pearls of wisdom you can impart for us now?

Susan Katz: I have asked colleagues to join me during both lectures. I am sharing case studies which I think will be exciting to hear because in both cases the books turned into major bestsellers. I want students to get a feel for “what it takes” to make a book into a major success. I’ve asked two of my colleagues to join me because they were key contributors to creating the successes.

Prof. Denning: Many of our students here at Pace have varied interests within the world of publishing. When you were first starting out in the industry, did you know that you wanted to end up working with Childrens books?

Susan Katz: Many folks call publishing the “accidental profession.” I didn’t start out with an interest in publishing, which I will be happy to explain at the first lecture. I did start out with a passion for reading, and a love of children’s books. I never thought I would be lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in the world of children’s books, which came midway through my career.

Prof. Denning: If a student is interested in the childrens book industry (or any other aspect of publishing) what is the best way for them to break in?

Susan Katz: Start with an internship or an entry level position. Make sure you use all of the resources at Pace to make your first connections. Attend Industry events. Talk to bookstore staff. Build relationships. More advice to come.

Prof. Denning: As our students gear up to enter the workforce, what sort of skills should they develop while in the MS in Publishing program so they can embark upon a successful career in publishing, whether in editorial, marketing, sales, or production or any other aspect of the business?

Susan Katz: It’s important to learn as much about the field as possible. So much information is available on line! Read the relevant business publications and research the publishers by visiting their websites. Bone up on the industry by reading newspaper articles in the area of publishing that interests you. Be sure to study the challenges the industry is facing so that you are prepared to focus on the thriving areas.

Prof. Denning: Can you tell us a bit about our lecture that will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29th ?

Susan Katz: As I metioned earlier, Jane O’Connor, the author of the Fancy Nancy picture book series, as well as her editor, Margaret Anastas, will be joining me. I thought it would be interesting to break the session into two parts. First, I’d like each of us to talk a bit about our careers, our experiences and how we got to the place we are today, and then I thought we would explain the picture book market and each describe our specific experiences in creating this fantastic picture book franchise that has sold over 30 million copies and is still selling today.

Prof. Denning: Thank you Susan!  We are really looking forward to your lecture.

2015 BEA Experiences

BEAThanks to the generous support of Dean Nira Herrmann and a number of Pace Publishing Professors, the Pace MS in Publishing students were able to attend the 2015 Book Expo America that took place at the Javitz Center in New York in May.  This was a great opportunity for networking, meeting authors, viewing publishers’ booths and seeing what books are slated to be published in the upcoming seasons. It is always a spectacular site to see so many publishers gathered and to attend some of the cutting edge panels and events.

This year we thought we would share a few of our thoughts about the experience, and if you would like to share some of your own experiences, feel free to email us at puboffice@pace.edu

Professor Sherman Raskin
Director, Pace MS in Publishing
Director, Pace University Press

“It is always nice to attend BEA in May. I was able to connect with old friends and spent two busy days consulting with our colleagues from China Publishing Group and Phoenix Publishing Media Group at the shermanraskincropped(1)show. PPMG ran a big screen ad in Times Square from May 26th through June 4th celebrating their company and the BEA Expo. Just before the show, executives from China Publishing Group participated in two weeks of training at Pace. They graced the Midtown site from May 11th through May 22nd before participating in the Book Expo. They only had good things to say about the training and the show. Most important, they loved NYC. The sessions at Pace stressed digital publishing and copyright law.

The last day of the show, Professor Lian and I had the opportunity to speak at a seminar held by Longzhiji Book Publishing located in Beijing.  Because of the influence of a Pace training seminar five years ago, they moved from being a traditional company to a digital company. The time spent at Pace changed their entire way of thinking about publishing. Mr. Su, the President of the company realized that he had to restructure if he were to succeed in the industry today. His training with the Pace professionals made all the difference and ensured his success as a major publisher in China. Pace and Logzhiji are very proud of this success story.

The BEA is always an exciting experience, but the Expo was even more meaningful with China as the focus of BEA this year.

Corinne Tousey, second year Publishing student:

My first time going to BEA was great.  It’s a great opportunity to meet new authors and find your favorite publishers and learn what new projects are being released.  I walked away with tons of free books, I even won a Kindle Fire and ten books from author, Julie Gilbert.”

Loot

Ana Ban, May 2015 Publishing graduate:

“I have been working as a translator in my country, Brazil, since 2001, and so far I have done more than 150 titles. It is so rare that I get in contact with the authors I translate, much less have the opportunity to meet them. But Ana Ban (1)thanks to Pace, last year I met two of them at BEA: Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), and Carolyn Mackler (The Future of Us), who was taking part in a panel sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association and mediated by Professor Manuela Soares about digital marketing for children’s authors.

This year I had the immense pleasure of meeting Wendy Mass, who wrote one of my favorite books that I have worked with, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. I picked my slot on Wednesday because I wanted to meet her, and I got in line for the autographing of Space Taxi – Archie Takes Flight, a cute chapter book about a boy who helps his father drive an interstellar cab.

When my turn came and I told her that I had translated Jeremy Fink in Brazil, she jumped from behind the table to talk to me and asked her husband Michael Brawer (co-author of the book they Ana Ban (2)were signing) to take pictures of us. She wrote on my copy: “It was SO wonderful to meet you – it’s like we wrote Jeremy Fink together!” And she said: “I wish I had more books to give you.”

It was one of the best experiences I have had in my career as a translator, to have my work recognized and appreciated by the author. I really appreciate the fact that Pace makes an effort so the students can attend BEA, it’s a great opportunity for us.”

Luverta Reames, second year Publishing student:

My first time at BEA I was excited.  I was disappointed when I realized I chose a time slot where nothing was going on. I was only able to view the exhibition for less than 20 minutes before I Otraded my badge and headed back to work. I knew that Charisma Media from Florida would be present, and they are the publisher that handles my pastor’s and aunt’s books. I HAD to meet the editor. I met Jevon on Friday night and we grabbed dinner and a live jazz show. Before the night ended she had already figured out how I could gain an internship and a freelance position with the company.

 Charisma was searching for a marketing intern for the summer. I will have a chance to work with Christian ministries and do custom book projects for them. What’s more exciting about moving to Florida for the summer—everything is falling into place. I have my living situation squared away. I’m using someone’s buddy pass for my travels and it’s a paid internship.  Although, I was sad I chose the wrong time. There was definitely a reason I needed to be at BEA and things are working out wonderfully for me.

I was so grateful for the opportunity to attend. I am looking forward to BEA in my hometown of Chicago next year.”

Sarah Poppe, May 2015 Publishing graduate:

“I just graduated from the Pace Publishing Program in May and started what I imagined would be a long and arduous application process for a full-time, entry-level editorial position. In all honesty, this wasn’t my first foray into the full-time job search; I had been sending applications “into the void” for about a year by this point. I say “into the void” because sending resumes and cover letters through online portals always felt like sending them off into the depths of outer space, desperately hoping to make contact with another life form. I competed with Sarah Poppehundreds of other applicants for one open position after another, and I never got the call for an interview. When a close friend of mine put me directly in contact with a hiring manager at Penguin and wrote a lengthy letter of recommendation on my behalf…and I still didn’t get the interview…I had all but given up hope on finding a job in book publishing and was about to turn my attention towards online content writing (something in which I had a bit of experience but didn’t really want to turn into a career).

 I decided that BEA would be my Hail Mary; I would network with as many people as possible, and if I still couldn’t find a job, I would set my sights elsewhere. I went to BEA on Friday, the last day of the Expo, by myself with nothing but a big swag bag and a stack of custom-made business cards. I nervously meandered around the exhibition hall, trying to strike up a conversation with everyone I encountered. I started with the Big 5 booths, but they were swarmed with attendees congregating around the author signings and free ARCs. Eventually, I succeeded in engaging with workers at some of the smaller booths, like Open Road—only to discover that I had been talking to interns who were after the same full-time jobs. At this point, my feet ached and my bag was almost too heavy to drag around.

 By chance, I stumbled across the Crooked Lane booth and was ushered into an author signing line by the words “free” and “New York Times bestselling author.” While in line, the person manning the booth greeted me and made a puzzling look at my badge, which listed my school name instead of my job title. “So what is it that you do?” he asked. This led to a conversation about the PPP and my quest for employment. He asked about my career interests, offered his business card, and told me to email him my resume when I got home. I sent him my resume with a short cover letter, and he set me up with an interview for the following Tuesday. I couldn’t believe it had worked that immediately.

Crooked Lane Books

After two rounds of interviews (and a wonderful recommendation from a Pace professor, to whom I am tremendously grateful), I just got the call that I got the job as an editorial assistant at Crooked Lane, a relatively new crime and mystery fiction imprint. Since they have an incredibly small staff (just four people!), I will get to experience not only the editorial side of publishing, but also production, marketing, and sales. One of the big conversation points in my interview was how the PPP gave me a more rounded understanding of the industry outside of editorial—a fact that I never knew would be so invaluable in giving me an edge over the other applicants.

 My biggest takeaway from BEA is this: networking really is everything! Any opportunity you get to shake someone’s hand, ask for advice, or offer your services is time well spent. I’m an introvert, I tend to have terrible social anxiety, and nothing terrifies me more than walking up to someone I don’t know with a confident smile and a business card. I circled that show floor three times before I worked up enough nerve, and even then, my most successful conversation only happened by chance. The best advice I have is to put yourself in professional situations where you have the opportunity to network (like BEA), be prepared when opportunity presents itself (with either a resume or business card), and know your pitch (Why are you there, and what is it that you are looking for?). It only took one conversation—the right conversation—to land the interview, something I never got from the hundreds of online applications I must have sent in the past year. As Pace Publishing students, we are given free access into the exclusive professional arena of BEA, something that most graduates from other schools competing for the same jobs won’t have access to (with the exception of BookCon, which I still find chaotic and somewhat limited). Take that opportunity and run with it!”

 Professor Jane Kinney-Denning, Executive Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach

jane kinney denningThe BEA is always an exciting, interesting, and exhausting experience!  This year I saw so many friends, former students, and former colleagues and professional acquaintances that I hardly had time to stop and get an ARC or two (but of course I did!).  I love the BEA and the energy that comes with so many book people gathered to showcase their work and upcoming titles.  Seeing so many publishers from the US and around the world gathered in one place is awe inspiring and a reminder why we all love our chosen professions.

Gloria SteinhamI must say that one of my highlights this year was getting to meet Gloria Steinem and have her sign her soon-to-be-published memoir, My Life on the Road. I have always admired her for her activism, commitment to women’s rights and human rights and of course for starting MS Magazine. Although the publicists were expertly moving the very long line of people along quickly, I did get a chance to thank her for her remarkable work.  

Thinking back on this and many previous BEA Conferences, the one thing that always stands out for me is the people; all of the good, passionate book people who make this industry so great. It is wonderful to be a part of it.

Kathy Sandler Honored by National Graphic Arts Society in New York

Professor Kathy Sandler was honored by the National Graphic Arts Society, Gamma Epsilon Tau, which presented her with their prestigious Gold Key Award on May 28th in New York City.

Kathy SandlerAttending the event were many industry luminaries, including Bo Sacks, and Professor Sandler’s family – husband Nick, son Teddy, and daughter Mirabel, and her sister Julie. Professor Soares also attended the event.

Professor Sandler is an industry leader in publishing technology and has been recognized for her skill and vision throughout her career. She has worked in both magazines and books, spending 20 years at Hearst Magazines, then at Meredith Publications, where she was involved in developing digital editions for Parents and Fitness magazines.  She later moved to Scholastic, where she facilitated the launch Scholastic’s digitally curated library, Storia. Currently, she is the Senior Manager, Content Applications and Digital Workflow Development, at Penguin Random House.

Professor Sandler has been included in the list of the 40 most Influential People in Publishing by Folio Magazine. A past president of Women In Production, Sandler has  also served on the boards or committees of many industry organizations, including of the Association of Graphic Communications, the American Business Press Production/Manufacturing Technology Committee, the IDEAlliance PRISM and
DIM-2 Committees, and the Publishers Symposium.

For more information about  Gamma Epsilon Tau, click here.

By Professor Manuela Soares

Pace Publishing Alumna to Speak at Women’s Leadership Conference

Women's Leadership ConferencePace M.S. in Publishing alumna Dior Vargas will be featured  in March at the 2015 Smith College Women’s Leadership Conference: Taking the Right Risks, a two-day event featuring workshops, panel discussions and career development opportunities, all led by distinguished alumnae and faculty. Participants will share stories of how taking calculated risks led to new adventures and made them stronger leaders. Hear about personal and professional experiences, and gain practical knowledge and innovative ideas.

Between the workshops and panels, talk with speakers at book signings, meet dynamic Smith students and network with other participants.

The conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, March 27-28, 2015, with optional pre-conference workshops on changing careers and entrepreneurship on Thursday, March 26 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

For more information on conference fees, click here.

The blog also conducted an interview with Dior in January 2011 (click here) and featured her as its July 2013 Alumni in the Spotlight (click here).

A Review: Balancing Commitment and Craft in Political Fiction

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WNBA-NYC Chapter Event: Balancing Commitment and Craft in Political Fiction
The political fiction panel speakers, left to right: Céline Keating, Elizabeth Nunez, Tiphanie Yanique, Ellen Meeropol, Marnie Mueller.

 

 

Introduction by Andrea Baron, VP Programming, WNBA-NYC
Over 100 people attended our November 5th panel discussion on Political Fiction at Pace University in New York City. The Dyson College departments of Pace Publishing, Women’s and Gender Studies, and English departments co-sponsored the event, and the many students in the audience set the tone for a lively discussion of the traditions and inspirations for political fiction, as well as the challenges facing women writers.

Our authors discussed the challenges of writing political fiction — framing language, developing character, and structuring plot to dramatize conflicts of class, race, gender, and politics while avoiding the pitfalls of authorial intrusion and didacticism.

The panel included six accomplished novelists: Ellen Meeropol, author of House Arrest ;Marnie Mueller, author of My Mother’s Island;   Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning: A NovelElizabeth Nunez author of Boundaries; and Céline Keating, author of Layla. The panel was moderated by writer and teacher Susan Breen, author of The Fiction Class.

 

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Alex Grover, a current Pace MS in Publishing graduate student who attended the event, shares his insights about the panel and what the authors had to say: 

Duty against the Norm: How Five Authors Write Political Fiction in Order to Change Their World

By Alex Grover

Why aren’t more books tackling tough and ambiguous subjects?

That was my question after having the privilege to attend a powerful panel hosted by the WNBA-NYC called, Balancing Commitment and Craft in Political Fiction. The five novelists—Céline Keating, Elizabeth Nunez, Tiphanie Yanique, Ellen Meeropol, and Marnie Mueller—in a discussion moderated by Susan Breen talked about their united cause in not only giving voice to important, impactful movements but also giving themselves voices as women. As Yanique stated early in the conversation, “to be a woman writer, even today, is a political act.”

The novelists first discussed their books as examples of the niche political fiction genre, including a story of growing up as a white non-prisoner in a Japanese internment camp, a mindful revision of The Tempest, and a discovery of self-identity during the feminist movement of the late 60s and early 70s. Why did they write these books? For Mueller, it was wanting “to know my background, what my parents did during World War II.” For Nunez, it was a way to articulate how those who appropriated her culture in the past had generalized and transformed her people into something they weren’t. In writing Prospero’s Daughter, Nunez “talks back to Shakespeare.”

Breen, an author herself and an instructor at Gotham Writers’ Workshop in Manhattan, then asked the panel, “What is political fiction?” At its core, it’s “tersely political material,” said Mueller, “strung together with a plot.” From Meeropol’s experience, “Real political fiction should be partisan, but should ask the reader to take a stand.” As Yanique put it, writing political fiction meant “consciously writing against a particular kind of patriarchy.” No matter the interpretation of the question, the panel met at an agreement that all novels, no matter their structure, are political to some degree. “If you have a book that exclusively features white people in a white suburb,” she said, “that’s still political. That’s still making a statement. It’s just that that statement doesn’t go against the status quo.”

On writing and craft, the authors gave advice for those who wanted to pen their own novels. While a novel may be a vital tool in influencing our society, it must also be entertaining. “We are wrapping you up and pulling you in,” Nunez said, comparing the process to a sequence from Charlotte’s Web where a fly allows itself to be captured by the titular spider. “You don’t know you’re being eaten.” From implanting “zingers” in a work to using mystery as a vehicle for political subversion, as Céline described in her own observation of the genre, authors must still keep the audience’s attention.

As powerful as their statements were, the panelists recognized that there are barriers that must be overcome in the publishing industry. Considering minority writers, Nunez talked about how a publishing house will say they publish black writers, yet those writers are still gathered in marginal imprints, or ghettoes as Nunez referred to them, and not exposed to mainstream audiences. As Nunez asked when considering the problem, “Are we not human?”

The evening with these authors was an exploration of the underpinnings of contemporary thought, a writing workshop, and a challenging view of current publishing paradigms. Some standards of writing we consider to be normal are not. As Yanique asked, “There’s not one gay person in Maine?” She was referring to an unnamed and popular author that actively influences our perception of the times. Considering the many social issues of the present still unresolved, the panelists recognized their moral obligation—and accepted.

 

Alex Grover (@AlexPGrover) is a graduate assistant at Pace University Press. He has written articles for Quirk Books and Apiary Magazine and has work published in Strange Horizons (forthcoming) and Acappella Zoo. He is currently participating in NaNoWriMo.