Coffee & Conversation with Alyson Heller!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Can you believe that the Spring: Nature’s Revised Draft conference is only days away? I’m really looking forward to another great boost of writing motivation.

Today we’re finishing up our series of pre-conference interviews with Alyson Heller, Associate Editor, Aladdin, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing!

AH_HeadshotAlyson edits everything from picture books to middle-grade novels for the Aladdin list. Some of her upcoming projects include The XYZs of Being WickedLucky Me and I Thought This Was a Bear Book by faculty member Tara Lazar. Alyson also edits many of the books within the Aladdin MIX line and several ongoing series. Whether it’s for someone 2 or 12, she loves strong characters with distinctive and true voices, and a fun/unique commercial hook.

She will be leading a workshop called First Pages:

One of the trickiest things in writing is perfecting that opening chapter of a manuscript–and drawing in the reader enough so they want to stay for the rest of the book. In this session, we will go over some examples of published first chapters, what works, and why it works. At the end of the session, based on time, we will ask for a few brave volunteers to share their first chapter page and do quick critiques, putting what was discussed in the session to good use!

And now that she settled in the cyber chair with her favorite coffeehouse beverage, an iced mocha latte from Gregory’s Coffee…


And her favorite snack, sour cream and onion potato chips and anything chocolate…


…let’s begin! First off, Alyson, what was your favorite book as a child? As a teen? And now, as an adult?

Tough question! I loved any of the Ramona books, Charlotte’s Web, The Secret Garden, The Babysitter’s Club series. As a teen, I read a ton of Sweet Valley High books. As an adult, there are too many to list! (I know that last one is a bit of a cop-out, but it is true!)

Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley High! I must have read each of those books a dozen times. Loved them! Okay, you magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it? (Key word: Frivolous!)

I would probably buy all kinds of costume jewelry—I have a bit of an accessories obsession!

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? 

Too hard to choose!

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

I would be a journalist.

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

Roald Dahl—I read a ton of his books as a child.


That would be a fascinating visit! What’s your favorite motivational quote?

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!

If you could sum up your best advice for new writers or illustrators in only four words, what would it be?

Just keep on writing (or illustrating, whichever is most applicable!)

Awesome, thanks, Alyson, for stopping by and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

Happy writing and drawing, everyone!

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Interviews: Agents & Editors. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Coffee & Conversation with Alyson Heller!

  1. Janet Smart says:

    Sounds like a great workshop!

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