Interview with Katherine Nintzel
By Theresa Rizzo
Bio: Katherine Nintzel is an Editor for William Morrow/HarperCollins where she works with a broad range of fiction and nonfiction. She is looking for literary and Ņbook clubÓ fiction; speculative fiction and fantasy; and narrative nonfiction, including memoir and pop culture. Recent and upcoming projects include Jessica Anya BlauÕs Today Show summer reading pick The Summer of Naked Swim Parties; Diane HammondÕs BookSense Notable HannahÕs Dream, and the New York Times bestselling Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold.
1. Which categories do you currently acquire? Which category is your favorite?
Answer: Literary and Ņbook clubÓ fiction; speculative fiction and fantasy; and narrative non-fiction. My favorite category depends entirely on what IÕve recently read and what IÕm currently working on.
2. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?
Answer: IÕve seen a lot of urban fantasy/vampire knock-offs. ItÕs true that the market for those types of books is huge, but the best, most successful books in the genre have more going for them than just the vampire Š the world-building is excellent, the characters dynamic, the writing clean and polished.
3. Do you accept unagented and/or email queries?
4. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial?
Answer: One page, no more. Honestly, I read the synopsis after the partial, if IÕm impressed by the partial. The actual writing is much more important to me than where the story goes.
5. What are the compelling elements that you think are necessary for a good
read? What particularly grabs your attention?
Answer: The writing is what catches my eye right off the bat; good writing, whether it be commercial or literary, will keep me reading for the first fifty pages, at least. To get me beyond those first fifty, I need to have characters I care about and a plot thatÕs going somewhere interesting.
6. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?
Answer: I always think I will get back more quickly to people IÕve met in person, but, sadly, thatÕs not always the case.
7. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?
Answer: Professionalism. Writing is an art and a craft; getting published is a business. When your manuscript turns into a book, your name will be on the cover, but your publisherÕs name will be on the spine. I donÕt want to work with someone who is unwilling to collaborate or compromise.
8. What do you love most about your job?
Answer: So many things! I love books; I love working with writers as they develop; I love the blend of business and craft.
9. Do you have any pet peeves?
Answer: Getting nagged. Sometimes itÕs necessary Š both for me to do and for someone else to do to me! Š but I really hate it.
10. WhatÕs your favorite genre/type of:
IÕm not sure I can answer these! My tastes are pretty catholic; I work with a wide range of books, and my music/movie preferences are equally scattered. I will say that I love watching an entire season of a great TV show in one weekend.
11. What are you addicted to?
Answer: The West Wing, which IÕm only discovering now on DVD. (See above.)
12. What have you always wanted to do?
Answer: Exactly what IÕm doing.
13. Do you have a favorite quote?