Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Toronto Tuesdays: Interview with Bev Katz Rosenbaum

In torkidlit, Toronto Tuesdays on July 20, 2010 at 9:00 am

I am so pleased to introduce Bev Katz Rosenbaum to you. Those of you who already know Bev will know that she is a very resourceful woman who knows her stuff – her stuff being the publishing biz. Bev is one of those people who knows what it’s like to sit on both sides of a contract; she is an author and an editor. (I just have to say here that I don’t know how she does it. To me, writing and editing [on a professional level] are two creatures that come from completely different worlds. I honestly don’t know how they manage to be roomies in the same brain.)

I have huge respect for Bev, both as a publishing professional and as a friend. She’s simply an amazing person.

Meet Bev Katz Rosenbaum.

Please introduce yourself to us.

Hey, I’m Bev Katz Rosenbaum, author of the young adult novels I WAS A TEENAGE POPSICLE and BEYOND COOL, as well as a couple of semi-scandalous romance novels.  I’m a former in-house Harlequin editor, and these days I do a lot of freelance editing and critiquing for publishers, packagers and individuals in addition to writing.  (I edit across all genres, but mostly do middle grade and young adult lit.)  I’ve also written for the tween ‘toon Stoked, which is produced by the same company that optioned I WAS A TEENAGE POPSICLE and BEYOND COOL for television and film.  (The option’s just been renewed and a writer hired, so cross your fingers!)  Oh, and I teach a children’s writing course for students of the Children’s Entertainment post-graduate program at Centennial College.  I live in Toronto (where I was born and raised) with my husband and two teenaged children.

Were you an avid reader as a child? As a teenager? What were your favorite books?

I was a crazy avid reader as a child.  Read everything.  Snuck reads of my parents’ books when I’d exhausted my own supply and that of our nearest library.  When I was interviewed for the parliamentary page program as a teenager (I went to Carleton University in Ottawa for a year), I remember one of the questions was ‘What do you like to read?’ and I couldn’t answer because I read so much, I couldn’t zero in on any particular genre or author!    (But I will say now that the Anne of Green Gables series was a big fave of the childhood me.)

Were you an editor or writer first? How did you end up being both?

I was an editor before I was a writer.  I was hired as an editorial assistant at Harlequin straight out of university, and worked my way up to the position of Editor.  I’d always loved writing, but it never occurred to me to try and be a professional author.  It just didn’t seem like something real people did.  But working as an editorial assistant and then an editor, I saw how many rewrites authors had to do to make books publishable–authors weren’t gods, after all!  I wrote my first novel while still working full-time as an editor.

What is your writing process?

I find I have to do some plotting, or I get stuck.  But I don’t like to over-plan, or I get sick of the book before I start.  I usually jot down two or three things I want to accomplish per chapter and go from there.  Oh, I do have to have a clear idea of what my characters look and sound like before I start writing, too.  I usually ‘cast’ my characters before I start, with people I know or actors/actresses. 

Of course as writers we must all edit and revise our work, but it amazes me when a writer is also an editor by profession. How do you reconcile your writer and editor selves? Do they get along?

It’s tough to keep my writer and editor selves from fighting it out sometimes!  I have to really force myself to write that crappy first draft without stopping.  Revisions are a bitch, too.  I’m a mad slasher.  My books are always hideously low in word count because I cut *tons*.  I’m doing revisions now for a publisher interested in my next YA series, and not only am I doing the requested revisions, I’m cutting other stuff like crazy.  Hope they don’t mind…

Tell us about your pop culture essays. How/why did you start writing those?

I got into doing the pop culture essays when some writers I knew mentioned they were contributing to a Smart Pop Books anthology on Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mystery series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, etc.).  I was (still am) a huge fan of the series, so I pitched an essay idea to the anthology editor.  She commissioned the essay, and invited me to write for other anthologies.  Smart Pop puts out a lot of books, but I limit my essay writing to anthos on book series or TV shows I love.  I have an essay in A Taste of True Blood, which is about the TV show (not the book series) True Blood, of which I’m a big fan.  That book came out at the end of June.  And I have an essay in an upcoming anthology on the TV show Glee, called Filled With Glee.  If anyone reading this is heading to Comic-Con, Smart Pop will have a booth, and they’ll be giving away copies of the True Blood book! 

The premise for your YA books, I WAS A TEENAGE POPSICLE and BEYOND COOL, is so original. Can you tell us a bit about them?

I started wanting to write YA when I fell in love with the books my kids were reading.  I was trying to think of a really original concept to increase my chances of selling.  Around that time, the whole Ted Williams brouhaha was happening (he’d died and specified in his will that he wanted to be cryonically preserved).  I have to credit my husband the sports writer for telling me about it.  I immediately thought, Eureka–that’s it! 

Click to buy

Summary of I WAS A TEENAGE POPSICLE: Floe Ryan was frozen—well, ‘vitrified’—when she was sixteen. She’s just been thawed, and guess what, it’s ten years in the future and she’s still a teenager. And her parents are still, shall we say, chilling out. Floe’s little sister is now her older sister (and guardian!), and payback’s a beyotch. On top of that, Floe has to get used to a new school, new technology, and a zillion other new things that happened while she was napping in the freezer. Luckily, she has Taz Taber–the hottie sk8er boy who used to make her melt before she was frozen—to reintegrate with. But now they’re trying to close the Venice Beach Cryonics Center—with Floe’s parents still in it! Now that’s cold. It’s up to Floe to save the clinic and her parents—so she can finally have a chance at a somewhat normal life…

Click to buy

From BEYOND COOL: Floe Ryan was frozen (well, vitrified) for ten years because of a rare disease. Now she’s been thawed back to her normal self, but absolutely everything else has changed. Just when she starts warming up to this new scene, everything falls apart…. Her boyfriend is giving her the cold shoulder, and there are all these cliques she can’t fit into–high school can be a chilly place. Worse yet, Dr. Dixon at the Cryonics Center tells her that those who were frozen are more susceptible to illnesses and the one doctor who can cure this immune system weakness has gone AWOL. Now it’s up to Floe and her brainy friend Sophie to find him. But they’re not the only ones looking for him–and this time, Floe could be iced for good…

Knowing both sides of the biz, what advice would you give an aspiring writer?

I would tell aspiring writers to keep their expectations realistic.  You’re not going to be able to quit working after a sale.  This business is crazy up and down–just because you’re published doesn’t mean you’ll sell again real soon.  Also, write for the love of it, and try to resist comparing your own career to that of somebody else.

What advice would you give an aspiring editor?

To aspiring editors, I would say do a post-graduate publishing program.  You pretty much have to have that credential these days to get your foot in the door of a publishing house.  Also, expect to have to do some freelance proofreading before landing any kind of entry-level, in-house job.

Can you share a favorite quote with us?

‘A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.’  -Richard Bach

Thanks so much for doing this interview, Bev. My fingers, toes, and eyes are all crossed for the t.v. option to work out for you! How exciting!

If you’d like to find out more about Bev, her writing, and her editorial work, please visit her website.

  1. What a great interview, Claudia and Bev! Sorry I missed it on the day. I love that Richard Bach quote.

  2. […] Bev Katz Rosenbaum – editor and author of I WAS A TEENAGE POPSICLE and BEYOND COOL, two very uniquely premised YA novels. Bev is also currently shopping some new work! […]

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