Coffee and Conversation with Stephen Barbara

Hello and happy Friday!

Registration for Team SCBWI has been open for less than two weeks and critique spots are filling up at a record rate! Linda Camacho is booked, but never fear, we have other amazing faculty members who still have slots open, so hurry up and get your submissions in. Don’t forget – you have to register first!

Today we have the first of our Team SCBWI faculty interviews. I’m so happy to welcome literary agent Stephen Barbara to the Cyber Cafe.

unspecifiedStephen joined InkWell Management Literary Agency in January of 2015, after six years at Foundry Literary + Media and three years as Contracts Director of the Donald Maass Agency. He focuses on high-quality books for youngreaders as well as select adult fiction and nonfiction. One of the world’s leading agencies, InkWell proudly represents major literary prize-winners as well as some of the world’s bestselling and best-loved authors.

First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?

coffee-563800__180Small coffee. Cream, no sugar.

And your favorite snack?

I never snack. I’m a three squares a day kind of guy.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I took to reading very quickly as a kid, but I honestly didn’t like reading very much till my freshman year in high school, when I discovered a few books that changed everything. The first was Frank Herbert’s Dune, then came T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock and Other Poems and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. After that I read everything I could get my hands on—science fiction, poetry, nonfiction, philosophy. And a lot of novels, both for adults and young people.


And now, what’s your favorite book as an adult?

Reading gives so many different experiences, it’s impossible for me to pick one favorite. Up there at the top though are Salinger’s Nine Stories, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Simon Kuper’s Football Against the Enemy, Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad, and pretty much anything by George Orwell. I also love M.T. Anderson, Kate Atkinson, and Stephen King, among many other contemporary writers.

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?

UnknownI would re-read George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I’ve read all five books, but I’m sure I missed a lot of the little nuances. And it would be a good way to kill time till book six arrives.



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

I would have become an attorney. That was what my parents wanted me to do. It was their polite way of telling me I was obnoxious and argumentative.

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

I’d catch a boxing match with Hemingway. I always loved the short story “Fifty Grand.”

Thanks so much for stopping by, Stephen! We’re all looking forward to hearing more from you at the conference!

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Friends, don’t forget our first ABC event of the year, which is scheduled for next Thursday  and being given by Kathy MacMillan: From first draft to final copy, a novel goes through many stages of change.  Join Kathy, author of Sword and Verse (HarperTeen, 2016), and Manuela Bernardi, the book’s betareader, for a frank discussion of feedback and how it shapes the revision process.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing after the program.  This program is co-sponsored by Baltimore County Public Library and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators MD/DE/WV Region.  Please RSVP at by January 19.

Happy writing and illustrating!



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.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Interviews: Agents & Editors. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Stephen Barbara

  1. Pingback: Coffee and Conversation with Betsy Bird | As the Eraser Burns

  2. Pingback: Team SCBWI: Tips, Info, and All Things Conference! | As the Eraser Burns

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