Coffee and Conversation with Jessica Garrison

Happy Labor Day Weekend!  Some of you are already on the road for one last hurrah at the beach or maybe you’re just staying home chilling and barbecuing with friends. Either way, we’ve got some good reading here for your downtime before the autumn rush starts.

Today we welcome Lucky 13 Conference faculty member  Jessica Garrison to the Cyber Cafe!


Voted “Most likely to eat the frosting off one too many cupcakes and regret it for the rest of the morning,” Jessica is an editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. Whether acquiring picture books, chapter books, middle grade or YA novels, she looks for a strong voice, fresh and exciting plots, a transporting experience, and a dose of humor. For novels, she’s drawn to contemporary romance with heft as well as survival stories featuring moral ambiguity, mental illness, oddly askew realities, and/or a ribbon of magic. For picture books, fresh concepts that address kid-level concerns with humor are always welcome.

Now that Jessica’s all settled in, let’s get started

First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?

I’m old fashioned—a regular coffee with 2% milk is how I roll.



Your favorite snack?

I’m healthy!  Kinda.  A banana and peanuts is my go-to.  Sometimes chocolate chips too.


What was your favorite book as a child?

Impossible question!  For picture books, MISS NELSON IS MISSING and  IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN.  For novels, I loved A WRINKLE IN TIME and BEHIND THE ATTIC WALL and also THE PIG MAN.



You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it? (Key word: Frivolous!)

Shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes!


So, do you like shoes? Just kidding! Next question – You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read!  Your glasses are fine (whew!) so what’s the first book you crack open?

I’ve been meaning to read CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese, THE WINDUP GIRL by Paolo Bacigalupi, and THE SPECTACULAR NOW  by Tim Tharp for ages, so I’d probably start there and hope I was locked in that bank vault long enough to get to them all.

I looked up these books and I have to say they all look great. More to add to my reading list!

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

Ah, I’d be a writer myself.  But it turns out that I’m a much better fixer than writer (not the nefarious movie/TV kind of fixer but the editing kind).

For one day, time travel is a reality and you can visit any famous deceased author you want.  Who do you pick?

Another impossible question!  Probably Will Shakespeare.  How could you not, right?  Also, and this is cheating a bit, but I’d love to have a martini with famous editor Maxwell Perkins.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Work hard and be nice to people.”  Words to live by from, I believe, not a famous author but a prolific contemporary British designer named Anthony Burrill.

They certainly are fine words to live by. So, if you could sum up your best advice for new writers or illustrators in only four words, what would it be?

Read and be open-minded.  (“Open-minded” is hyphenated, so it counts as one word.)

From an expert folks: hyphens make it one word. Thanks so much, Jessica! We’re all looking forward to hearing more from you at the conference!

Have a great weekend friends!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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