March 4th, 2015

An Interview with Anne Brewer, Editor at Thomas Dunne Books

Today I am welcoming the lovely Anne Brewer, from Thomas Dunne Books to the brand new Creative Authors blog.

IA: First of all a huge congratulations on your promotion to Editor, Anne. I’m thrilled for you and you so deserve it! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to go into publishing?

I’ve always loved reading and the thrill of finding a great new story. When I was young, one of my favorite places was the library, where I would scour the shelves for talented authors whose work I hadn’t read yet, then, on finding one I liked, voraciously read everything he or she had written. When I figured out I could do this for a living I was thrilled! I love finding new authors and working with them to build their careers.

IA: We’re both big supporters of keeping UK and US libraries open. I have always been a voracious reader and would read almost everything in my local library growing up – from local history to Stephen King novels. What books would we find you reading in your local library back in the day?

A good bet would always be the mystery section – I’ve always loved mysteries of all stripes and today I publish lots of them. I also adore original, well-plotted women’s fiction and when I was younger could be found pouring over the racks for interesting-sounding titles in that vein as well.

IA: You’re in a great position where you can commission both fiction and non-fiction. I’m lucky enough to work on both as well. What are the three main things you look for in a non-fiction title and in a novel?

I love being able to work on both fiction and nonfiction – they each exercise my brain in totally different ways. But I would say that one thing I look for in both types of projects is a story well told. In nonfiction this can be a heart-warming tale of a beloved pet, or an eye-opening look at the secret history of an everyday object, while in fiction it could be a twisty murder or an emotional love story, but in both cases I’m looking for the author to draw me in to the world they have created on the page wholly and immediately. Other important things I look for are a standout, original voice and strong, steady pacing.

IA: Can you give us an example of a favourite non-fiction title that you have read recently?

I recently read Yes Please by Amy Poehler, which I thought was really great. I’m a big fan of her work, and loved getting a chance to peek behind the scenes on set at SNL and Parks and Rec.

IA: You publish mysteries. In fact, we worked on my talented client Michelle Kelly’s ‘Downward Facing Death’ together, which I cannot wait to see published. Can you tell us the key points you look for when considering a mystery manuscript?

Mysteries have fairly strict genre requirements and that’s one of the first things I look for – does the murder occur soon enough? Is the sleuth actively investigating? Are there enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing? After that, the most important thing to me is voice – I look for something original and engaging. Since so many mysteries become series, it’s important to find a voice I’m excited to come back to for more books.

IA: You recently gave me an advance reading copy of ‘Letters to the Lost’ by Iona Grey, which genuinely moved me. Can you tell us about a forthcoming novel you are working on?

Well, I love Letters to the Lost, so I do want to make a brief plug for it – it’s a gorgeous, sweeping love story set in London during WWII and the present day, and is coming out on 5/26. It’s such an incredibly emotional story – it’s made me cry every time I’ve read it.

Another forthcoming novel I’m really excited about is a debut women’s suspense novel called The Secrets of Lake Road, by Karen Katchur (coming 8/4/15). It’s about a mother and daughter at a lakeside community in the Poconos – a young girl goes missing, and the daughter joins the effort to find her, unwittingly becoming involved in an investigation that starts to turn up secrets from her mother’s past. It’s a haunting story about the power of secrets that also does a wonderful job bringing to life a quintessential summertime community; I think it’s perfect for fans of Lisa Scottoline’s standalone suspense novels.

IA: As you know, I am very selective with who I take on and feel an agent and author really need to gel. You work very closely with your clients and are a sensational editor. What would you hope a new author would bring to the editor/author relationship?

Well, thank you! I’m always hopeful that a new author will be enthusiastic about building his or her profile in the reading world, which can be hard work. Not all authors have a platform at acquisition (although it’s great when they do!), but it’s so important these days for authors to develop some sort of online presence, through Goodreads and their social media outlet of choice (whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or a blog).

IA: You can’t judge a book by its cover, so they say. That said I’m a big fan of a great cover. What is your favourite book jacket of all time? I’ve always adored the US edition of The Great Gatsby. To me it really sums up the spirit of the book.

Wow, favourite jacket of all time is a tall order! Recently, I really loved the cover for The Husband’s Secret – it was totally different from any other women’s fiction look I’d seen before it, and managed to convey the suspense of the book so perfectly. On my own list, a recent cover I really loved is The Headmaster’s Wife – it’s a beautifully written novel set at a New England prep school, which you can tell right away, but I also think the image makes you stop and think, “What’s going on behind that closed door?”

IA: Thank you so very much for taking the time to talk to us, Anne! Very best with all your exciting book projects in the pipeline.

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by Isabel Atherton


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