Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Interview with Entangled Editorial Director Alethea Spiridon Hopson: 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence Final Judge

This year's 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence has a wonderful final judge for the Contemporary Series Romance category. Alethea Spiridon Hopson works for the Entangled INDULGENCE line. Entangled Publishing is off to a great start with lots of opportunities for writers to get their work out into the world. Please join me in giving Alethea a warm welcome and let's learn more about her and the Indulgence line.

Thanks so much for taking the time to let me interview. How about we start off with the usual question. Tell me a little about your background?

I've been editing for 14 years now. I have a BA in English, a post-grad certificate in Book and Magazine Publishing, and a post-grad certificate in creative writing. I worked for Harlequin for almost seven years and worked as a freelance editor for five years after that before joining Entangled full time.

That's a wonderful background and it's great to see someone with your experience as a judge of the Linda Howard Contest. Thanks again for volunteering your time!  Is there any type of story you're hoping to find, but not seeing in your submissions? 

Somewhere along the way people got the idea we were about CEOS and bosses (white collar guys) and that is so not the case. We take all kinds of heroes, as long as he's alpha and confident and smokin' hot. So I'd like to see some heroes in interesting careers that aren't business related. I'm revamping the guidelines for Indulgence and they'll be posted soon so make sure to have a look. Personally, I'd love to see a high drama, action story that follows category but does it outside of the box. High concept category!

This new high concept category romance gives writers with out-of-the-box heroes a place to share their stories. Wonderful news! Tell me, how often do you select manuscripts from the "slush pile?"

All the time. I have a few agents I work with closely, and they have brought me great talent, but when we first started it was all slush. Agented or un-agented, it's all the same to me. 

Wow. Now you're talking my language. I love having a new publishing house who is willing to let writers go directly to them with their unpublished manuscripts. While reading a manuscript, how long does it usually take before yo know whether or note you want to request the full? Why? 

I know pretty much right away, after say the first five pages. Truly. If by page 30 I'm still not in it, then there's less of a chance I'm going to later on and that you'll get picked up. But the first five pages is where it's at, when I know I have something special.

Sounds like if you like a high concept hook, too. What do you consider the most important qualities of an author? 

Flexibility, professionalism, co-operation, patience, and kindness in how they deal with you. Sounds simple and what should be, but you have no idea... it's often not the case.

Patience is important in this industry. As are all the other qualities you look for in an author.  If you were to give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Don't give up. But don't be lazy. Keep trimming and tightening, and honing that story. 

Never give up and never surrender and always keep learning how to improve the story. Sound advice! Now that we know what you're looking for in an author, here are a couple of fun questions. 

What book or books do you like to reread every year? 

The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag. 

Have you ever become star-struck when meeting an author? If so, who? 

I wouldn't say star-struck, but I met Sandra Brown in New Orleans years ago. Her husband made us bananas foster. It was a tad surreal. She is such a beautiful woman, and grand, and has such a dignified air about her. Like a movie star! She and her family were so much fun and so likable. 

MMMM. Bananas Foster and a wonderful evening. Now I want to meet Sandra Brown! 

If you want to learn more about the Indulgence line at Entangled Publishing, please check out their website and the Indulgence Blog. I know I will!! And I think I've got a manuscript tucked in a drawer somewhere that just might fit the bill. 

Everyone, here's your chance to ask an editor from ENTANGLED what you've always wanted to know. 


And check out their guidelines as well. You can click here:


Heather said...

Thank you so much Alethea for not only judging in the final round of the Linda Howard, but also sharing your time with our chapter's blog.

My question is this - how soon do you need to have your hero and heroine on the same page with one another? We've been having this discussion among chapter members, and I would love to have your professional opinion.

Thank you again!

Meda White said...

Hi Alethea- Thanks for taking the time to judge and do the interview. I am brand new to the business of romance writing and I wondered if you could tell me the parameters or guidelines for "Category Series" Romance? Thanks.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing one of the new lines from Entangled, Alethea. Great interview (and insight into what you guys are looking for)!

Christine said...

Hi Alethea: I am really excited about alpha heroes being in different occupations for the Indulgence Line. What about the heroines? Are they also allowed to have more interesting backgrounds than the usual PA, secretary roles?

Lexi said...

Thanks for visiting Southern Magic, Alethea. Always a pleasure to hear from editors. I hear great things about Entangled!

Alethea said...

Hi Heather! There's no set timing, but the sooner the better. If they haven't yet been on the same page together by the end of chapter two, then we have a problem. A few pages setting up the hero or heroine's story is good and then they can gradually meet. All depends on the story. But in category, the sooner the better. I personally prefer if they've met and been together on a page or two in chapter one somewhere.

Alethea said...

Hi Meda! The parameters for category romance or short romance, is a story that puts the focus on the hero and heroine and their growing relationship, whether it be sweet, sexy, or emotional. It's their story and how they overcame obstacles that made it hard for them to be together. Category is shorter than single title stories, usually capping at 65K words.

Alethea said...

Hi Christine! Our heroes and heroines and stories are meant to appeal to a younger crowd, women in their twenties and thirties so the characters and their careers should reflect what women and men do today. Our heroines are feisty and spunky and can do anything they want. We've had our heroines fill the roles of interior decorator, event planner, CEO, doctor, food columnist, writer, car thief, and pretend stripper to name a few. I prefer fresh and interesting over staid and overdone. Hope that helps!

Christine said...

HI Alethea: Thanks for your valuable input. I love unique heroines and heroes. Can't wait to play around with some new ideas now that I have a feel for what you are looking for in future submissions.

And thanks again for the fabulous interview.


Chris Bailey said...

Thanks Christine and Alethea for the valuable information. My daughter is an architect currently managing a trailer park for Habitat for Humanity. Her boyfriend is a sound and lighting engineer and the stage manager for a community theater. There you go--careers for 20-somethings!