Here’s an excerpt from her own bio:
Jamie Weiss Chilton represents all categories of children’s books, specializing in novelty books,
picture books and teen novels with a special eye toward contemporary, thriller, science fiction, comedy, horror, and memoir.
She is actively seeking INTENSITY across all genres. She wants to feel like she’s been kicked in the heart and smacked upside the soul. She’s seeking manuscripts that stay with her and enrich her life. This could mean sweet-intensity, like crying at an “I love you” picture book, or shocked-intensity, like reading a YA that explores an essential part of the teen experience in a way she’s never considered. Underrepresented, unique viewpoints and new takes on perennial topics interest her. In the younger genres, she always looks for the hook that will make a book a must-have parenting or educational resource.
Jackie Kruzie, our chapter’s Regional Advisor, had the chance to e-chat with Jamie and here’s what they had to say…
1. What brought you to this career path?
I think my career choices are due in large part to my mom’s love of books, and the abundance of books I had growing up. I was always encouraged to pursue my passion, which has been reading for as long as I can remember. Incidentally, I also think my love of rabbits has to do with the abundance of bunny books published in the 60’s and 70s — we had them all in my house growing up!
2. Can you please tell us a little about your background and experience in the literary world?
I’ve been in children’s books, in one way or another, my whole career. I started out with an internship at Henry Holt, with Christy Ottaviano, in 1998, and I knew I’d found my calling! My first job after college was as an Editorial Assistant at Random House Children’s Books. I was at RH for four years and then moved back to Los Angeles, my hometown. In LA, I worked at the SCBWI’s main office, as the conference coordinator for the LA and NYC conferences, and as the Golden Kite Award coordinator. Getting to meet and spend time with authors, illustrators, editors, and agents was fantastic, and I wanted to get back into the publishing side of the business. It was my first mentor, Christy Ottaviano, who suggested I talk with Andrea at ABLA, and here I am, ten years after that initial conversation! Our industry really is a small world!
3. What are you looking for in a manuscript?
I’m looking for an emotional connection. I want a manuscript, and illustrations — in any genre — to make me feel something, to elicit an authentic emotional response. Joy, inspiration, amazement, sadness, shock…. Whatever your plot and themes, there should be emotion there. And I want an emotional response to be well-earned and subtly achieved. I’m looking for nuance, and I’m interested in the complex relationships between emotions. This all sounds very serious; I do love funny, clever, joyful books!
4. What are you looking for in a client?
You’ll see great examples in two of my clients who are presenting at this conference: Janee Trasler and Salina Yoon! I’m seeking professionalism, openness, strong communication skills, immense creativity, a positive attitude, and drive to succeed in this industry.
5. What advice do you have for new children’s book writers?
If you’re attending this conference, and even just reading this interview, you’ve already taken an important step, which is to reach out to the children’s book community. The SCBWI is a terrific resource. It’s important to keep creating new work and not get stuck on just one a few projects. Every author and illustrator I work with has a lot of projects that, for one reason or other, get put in a drawer. That’s ok, it’s part of the process. And it’s important not to let that get you down. Everything you create builds your skills. In order to succeed in this industry, you must be prolific, and be able to put projects aside if they’re not working.
6. What advice do you have for authors and/or illustrators doing pitches?
My colleague Laura Rennert has a great pitching (and synopsis) device that I’ll borrow to answer this question. She asks authors to answer these questions about their story: “Who, What, Where, and Why should I care?” For me, I especially want to get a sense of the emotional as well as plot hooks of your book, and the unique qualities of your characters. What’s going to make me (i.e. kid-me, or teen-me), relate to these characters and their story arc?
7. What are your favorite, could read over and over again books?
Oh, there are many! I’m a big re-reader! All of my client’s books (sounds cheesy, but it’s true!) You can see examples of my clients’ books at our agency’s website, www.andreabrownlit.com.
8. Are you actively seeking submissions?
I’m open to submissions from conference attendees, yes! Put “SCBWI TX query” in the subject line of your email. You’ll see our submission guidelines on our website.