Friday, April 4, 2014

A Sweet Six Interview with Editor Holly West

Happy Friday everyone!

The Valentines are rolling with debut goodness right now! Lovely Bethany Crandells' debut YA contemporary SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS is out this week--woot!-- and out next Tuesday? Kristi Helvig's YA sci-fi thriller BURN OUT. THESE ARE AMAZING BOOKS, my friends. Brace yourself for THE FEELS.

It's always about THE FEELS. :)

Here at the Valentines, we're all about LOVE and FEELS and SWOON. For our books, for books we love. And of course, WE ADORE DEBUT GOODNESS.

With that in mind, I'm super stoked to have Holly West on the Vals blog today. She's an editor at Swoon Reads, the new YA romance imprint of Macmillan (*bias alert* Macmillan is my publisher so I lurrvvee them!:D) Swoon Reads is really cool--totally interactive, where readers decide. In this new publishing world where there are more publishing options than ever, I think Swoon Reads is an amazing opportunity for YA writers.

Here's a little intro about Swoon Reads from Holly herself:

Fall in love with falling in love at Swoon Reads, a new crowdsourced YA romance imprint dedicated to publishing books that capture the intensity of teen love. More than an imprint, Swoon Reads is a community—one whose members are included in every step of the publishing process, starting with choosing the manuscripts for publication. Writers submit their full novels on the site and our readers then read, rate and comment on them. The manuscripts with the highest ratings and best comments will be read by the Swoon Reads board. Together, we will discover the best, most swoonworthy teen romance novels and publish love stories you will want to read over and over again.

"Falling in love with falling in love!" I love that so hard!!!

Here's a little about Holly herself:

After growing up in a small town in Southern Kentucky as "that girl who reads a lot," I ran away to the big city with the dream of working with books. After a brief stint in adult publicity, I decided editorial would be more fun and joined Feiwel and Friends as Jean's assistant in 2008.
I'm always looking for smart, funny romance novels, preferably with a bit of action. Books that lift my mood no matter how bad my day has been.

On to the Sweet Six interview!


1) Holly, what do you love most about being an editor?

Working with authors. I love having the opportunity to take something amazing that I already love and brainstorming with the author to make it even better. Also, my authors (so far, anyway) are all pretty amazing people who are fun to talk to.

(Having had a chance to guest post on Swoon Reads and work with Holly, I can tell you she's a writer's dream to work with!)

2) What was your favorite non-client read in the last year?

I’m not very good at picking favorites, and I’m very far behind in my non-work related reading, but judging from the number of people I’ve recommended it to, I’m going to go with Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart. I know, I know… it’s an odd choice for an editor at a YA Romance imprint, but I’m also a giant fantasy geek and it has an amazing conceit, stellar world building, and lots of great action.

I also loved Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.

3) If you had to pick your favorite YA character, who would you pick and why?

Ouch! That’s a rough question. I’m really not good at picking favorites: they tend to vary wildly depending on my mood. Also, I’m trying to avoid books I work on…

Maybe Katsa from Graceling by Kristen Cashore? Her character is so straightforward, like a thrown knife, and yet she still ends up with Po in this great romance. Or there’s Harry “Harimad-sol” from Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, which I re-read at least once a year, who, even after being kidnapped from her bed and dragged across the desert in a ride that makes toughened soldiers wince, has the grace and presence to smile a guard when she manages to catch his eye.

I always love tough heroines who can make hard choices and get things done.

(Yes!!!! Love Katsa, love tough heroines! *adds The Blue Sword to TBR list*)

4) What's the craziest, most memorable, or swooniest valentine you've ever received?

Sadly, none of my valentines have been particularly memorable or swoony. Although one of my high school friends (who I had a huge crush on at the time) once gave me a copy of The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy wrapped in a towel – which seems pretty swoonworthy to me, even if it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day!

(Douglas Adams FTW!!!:) Books make GREAT Valentine's gifts!)

5) If you were a Brach's Heart, what phrase would be written on you?


6) The all-important choice: flowers or candy?

Neither. I’d really rather have something a little more original. But if I had to choose: candy – my cat would eat the flowers!

Wise choice, Holly. Cat protection at holidays is critical.:) Thanks so much for you hanging out with us today, Holly! I think we *may* need to petition Brachs to add "dream" to their hearts because it's so perfect. :)

For YA romance writers looking for more Swoon Reads scoop, here's some linkage:


  1. Steelheart was so, so good! And I need to add The Blue Sword to my TBR list too- it never gets much better than McKinley! =) Fun interview!

  2. Thanks for this awesome interview! I hope you'll check out my blog, YA Valentines! :)