Interview with Tracey Keevan
By Theresa Rizzo
Date: January 2014
Bio: Tracey Keevan is a senior editor at Disney * Hyperion Books where she edits a range of children’s books, including picture books, early readers, graphic novels, middle grade and young adult fiction. She is thrilled to be working with a number of talented writers and illustrators including Mo Willems, Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, Rick Riordan and Robert Venditti, Robin Mellom, Stacey Kade, and Laurie Faria Stolarz.
Currently, Tracey is looking to acquire young adult/middle grade action-adventure series; literary fiction, particularly middle grade; YA and middle grade short story collections; contemporary chapter book series; and multi-voice / POV novels. She has a strong interest in humor, science/nature, contemporary fiction, and magical realism. Tracey also has a background in digital media and is interested in transmedia story-based projects for middle grade and YA readers.
Tracey has worked in children’s media for nearly 20 years as an editor, writer, and producer. She was previously a senior digital editor at Disney Publishing Worldwide and the former executive editor of Nick Jr. Magazine. Tracey has also worked at Workman Publishing and The New York Daily News. She is a Daytime Emmy-nominated writer whose children’s fiction has been featured on Nickelodeon television as well as in books and magazines.
My YA list spans a number of categories, including: action/adventure, contemporary/realistic fiction, horror, humor, paranormal romance, literary fiction, and magical realism. There will always be a place in my heart (and on my list) for a great story and strong writing—regardless of the category. That said, I’m often drawn to literary coming-of-age stories, humor, survivalist narratives, and experimental fiction.
I prefer to have a solid sense of the direction of the novel. For me, more is more in this case. Typically, a two-page synopsis (single spaced) does the trick along with a partial manuscript. If the author has a chapter outline, I’d love to see it as well.
I’d like to see more issue based submissions, literary humor, realistic fiction, and original voices that jump off the page. I’d also like to consider YA short story collections. In general, the submissions that are the most challenging to consider are those that come after a trend has peaked. Trend-focused themes (superheroes, vampires, aliens, etc.) work well when the timing is right, but can under perform if the timing is off.
Red flags for rejection include: generic voice; weak grammar; uninspired writing; overused plot; excessive clichés; lack of action; expected plotting.
Fixable issues include: character development; pacing; story intro/ending; subplot development; chronology problems; plot holes; tense changes; language and situational content.
It’s great to meet authors at conferences, signings, events, etc. However, submissions are treated equally for potential new authors to our list. If I’ve read a submission, I typically share my thoughts with the agent.
I enjoy working with authors who are enthusiastic, full of creative ideas, and who are open to collaboration. I also appreciate an author who hits her deadlines and is flexible with the editorial process. Of course, being active in the industry is a plus as well.
An overuse of dream sequences to foreshadow events, reveal plot points, and/or uncover dark secrets is a pet peeve. The buffoon parent/teacher/adult is another one!