Saturday, June 23, 2012
Angela James
By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton
Published: May 21, 2012

Accomplishment: Executive editor of Carina Press and veteran of the digital publishing industry.

Angela  still enjoys reading submissions in steampunk, cyberpunk and BDSM/erotic romance...Hmm...

The footsteps descended slowly. This was Angela James, not the Canadian former ice hockey forward but the Executive Editor of Carina Press and a magnet for hot new writers. I stoked up the fire and greased rope and rollers; knew she’d appreciate the fine mink cuffs I’d bought especially for her.

To agent or not to agent?

Why or why not? I love my agent friends and I don’t want them to come after me with flaming sticks and pitchforks, but I think there are times you need an agent, and times you don’t. Some publishing houses are impossible to get into without an agent, so if you’re a writer who wants to write for that house, you need one. The right agent (I qualified that on purpose) is also gold for helping build a career plan, targeting the right publisher, acting as an intermediary between you and your editor/publisher, negotiating a fair contract and getting you hooked up with a good deal. On the other hand, some authors don’t want someone to do those things for them or need someone to do those things for them. In which case, my advice to all authors is if you’re not going to use an agent then be sure you know exactly what the contract you're signing says, even if it means using a literary attorney (not just some random attorney you find off the street). 


Would you see it as an exciting or a retrograde step if digitisation encouraged writers to choose sound and pictures to augment their words?

Anything that can add content or value to a book has the opportunity to be exciting. I think the jury's still out on whether sound and pictures will augment ALL books, or just some (particularly non-fiction, textbooks and children's books). But when you're talking about a book like The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which actually a book app, I think it's very, very exciting to see sound and pictures augmenting words. It's drawn my seven-year-old daughter back to interact with the book time and again, and I love that. It's almost magical for her, and that is exciting. 


Has a book ever made you angry, and if so, which one?

Oh my holy heck yes. Hannibal by Thomas Harris. I read it in hardcover when it first released over a decade ago, and I really did literally heave that sucker at a wall when I reached the end. I've never been so angry at a book before or since. 


Which five literary characters would you like to invite to dinner, and why?

All of my characters are from genre commercial fiction. I'm not going to pretend any pretentious reading airs by listing characters I think you'd all be impressed with. Plus, I'm going to cheat and name six because I'm showing my romance roots and including three couples: Eve and Roarke from JD Robb's In Death series, Kate Daniels and Curran from Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series and Judith and Iain from Julie Garwood's The Secret.

One couple from the future, one from an alternate reality Earth and one from the past. It would be fun to see what they'd all make of each other. Plus, all are strong-willed, opinionated characters, so you know the dinner conversation would never be boring (and if it did get boring, all of the male characters are supposed to be super hot, of course, so I could just spend my time looking at them...)


Is there any truth in the view that most erotic romance novels are versions of the same old story and does that matter?

Is there any truth to the view that every mystery has the same basic plot elements and every science fiction novel is just a shoot-em-up in space book with green aliens? Meh. Every genre has its story requirements that fans long for, sometimes that can seem formulaic to anyone who doesn't read within the genre (because if they did read within the genre, they'd know better), and anyone who sweepingly labels any one genre as all the same of one thing or another deserves to be stuck in a remote house with Hannibal Lector, some fava beans and a nice Chianti. 


What assumptions do people make about editors and publishers?

That we make a lot of money. That we all have assistants who sort our mail and take care of the small tasks for us. That we're mean, we're looking for the same book, and we want to recreate the success of Twilight/Hunger Games/DaVinci Code by publishing exactly the same book over and over again. That we have no imagination, aren't paying attention, don't look to the future, and that we're "The Man" trying to keep the author down. Oh, and also they seem to assume we don't know how to read blogs, social media and writers' forums, where they lay all these assumptions out there. 


What do you see too much of in query letters, and what do you think will be hot this year?

 In query letters specifically I see too much of people laying out their life stories rather than focusing on the fiction story they're supposed to be pitching to me. As far as genres I've been seeing too much of...the "undefined" genre where the author really doesn't know where it fits and makes me think they don't know either the industry or their story very well. I think YA is going to continue to be hot this year (which is too bad, since I don't publish it or read much of it!) I also think contemporary romance is on the rise in the romance genre. 


What question are you glad I didn't ask you?

How you can become an editor/get a job as an editor. That's been showing up in my inbox a lot lately. 

Thank you, Angela, and yes you may keep the mink cuffs.

For any warned off by Angela’s last answer, rest assured. She travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers – and all the time looking for the author who will write her a space cowboy book in the vein of Firefly! Go to it but read her website first.

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Will Belegon   
Monday, 21 May 2012 08:41 AM  via Facebook

Time to re-open that Space Cowboy/scoundrel work in process....


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Renee Miller   
Monday, 21 May 2012 07:29 AM  via Facebook

Great interview, Mike. I love your dinner choices, Angela. Eve and Roarke would be an interesting addition to any party.


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Maril Swan  
Monday, 21 May 2012 06:55 AM  

I especially liked the insightful questions and very candid answers. Lots to look at on her website too. Thanks for a great interview.


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Veronica Sicoe  
Monday, 21 May 2012 02:16 AM  

Great interview! :)


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