EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, as you may have heard, SCBWI L.A.’s 2020 Writers Day has been postponed due to the Coronavirus. Please check your emails for the announcement which provides more details. Despite this news, the below interview (unedited from the original) provides fantastic information – so, please, read on!
MARIA BARBO (Senior Editor at HarperCollins) acquires high-concept series and standalones for young readers of all ages—focusing mostly on middle grade and select picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. She is particularly interested in projects with authentic voices, strong hooks, and fresh perspectives that use humor, magic, or illustrations to help young readers learn to navigate their world. She works with award-winning and bestselling authors such as Natalie Lloyd, Jim Benton, and Lisa Greenwald. Prior to joining Harper, Maria worked at Scholastic Inc, earned an MFA in painting, and lived in Spain via the Fulbright Program. When she’s not working, you can find her playing soccer or practicing her handstands.
CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! We’re excited to have you as a Keynote Speaker at SCBWI L.A.’s 2020 Writers Day event. Your topic, “It’s TOTALLY Personal: Character Motivation is Everything” sounds amazing, as does the breakout session, “Master the Middle of Your Novel.” Does character motivation differ in picture book, middle grade, or YA?
MARIA BARBO: Thank you, Christine. I’m excited to meet everyone in L.A. I’d say the basic guiding principle across all age levels is that your main character’s motivations, their deepest desire, is what drives the plot forward. What do they want? Why do they want it? And which of their personality traits is going to get in their way? Continue reading