Interview with Senior Editor Timothy Travaglini

Timothy Travaglini is Senior Editor for G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group. Since 1994, he has worked in trade marketing for Scholastic, Inc.; been a bookseller for Books of Wonder, an all-children’s bookstore in New York City; and has edited for Henry Holt and Company, Walker & Company, and for Putnam since 2005. He is the editor of the New York Times #1 bestseller GOODNIGHT GOON, New York Times bestseller THE RUNAWAY MUMMY, and FURIOUS GEORGE GOES BANANAS by Michael Rex; The Youngest Templar trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Michael P. Spradlin; DREAMDARK: BLACKBRINGER and DREAMDARK: SILKSINGER by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor; The Washington Post Best Children’s Book of the Year FLYGIRL by Sherri L. Smith; The Foundling’s Tale trilogy (formerly titled Monster Blood Tattoo) by D. M. Cornish; BENJAMIN FRANKLINSTEIN LIVES! by Matthew McElligott & Larry Tuxbury; many picture books by Patrick O’Brien such as YOU ARE THE FIRST KID ON MARS and CAPTAIN RAPTOR AND THE MOON MYSTERY; EARTH MOTHER by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; ONE WITCH by Laura Leuck, illustrated by S. D. Schindler; many of the romantic comedies of Janette Rallison such as JUST ONE WISH, and ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE, WAR, AND HIGH SCHOOL; VIOLENCE 101 by Denis Wright; the reissue of Newbery-Honor winner ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS by Sylvia Louise Engdahl:

Since this blog is about offering inspiration to writers and artists, my first question for you is, do you have a favorite quote? If so, why is it your favorite?
I have many favorite quotes, I could never say there is one that surpasses all others. But an apropos one might be Maxim Gorky’s 

“You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults, only better.”

You have edited so many books that have gone on to win prestigious awards and that constantly become New York Times Bestsellers, WOW! I applaud you for having such a phenomenal editorial eye! If you could be one character out of all the books you’ve edited, who would it be and why?

Thank you—although no success has been as “constant” as I would like. I love the question—I’ve never thought about that. There are a few characters that anyone might say I am already. But if I could be one, it might be Backbeard, the hairiest pirate who ever lived. No, wait, I’ve changed my mind: It would either be the kid from You Are the First Kid on Mars or Stewart Hale from Shanghaied to the Moon; because going into outer space would be really, really cool.

If you could go back in time when you first started working as an editor, what piece of knowledge would you take back with you into the future?

I find that the knowledge I most value is the accumulation of knowledge I have gained over the years. And you simply can’t start out with that. But rather than duck the question…let’s see…one piece… OK, how about this: I might track down a certain aspiring writer in Scotland and become friends with her. I would never say that I should have ever published her books. All successes are the results of stars aligning in a certain way, and if you mess with the time-space continuum, it’ll bite you in the end. But it would be nice to be friends…

What did you want to be growing up? Now that you’re an editor did this come as a surprise?

That changed frequently, I can remember wanting to be a fireman, an astronaut, an architect, a psychiatrist. Becoming an editor was never a surprise. Books were my one consistent interest throughout life. Everything else was fleeting.

You have come across many writers and artists in your career. What piece of advice have you given most?

Marry money.

If you could be any super hero, who would it be and why?

Wolverine. Because he’s indestructible, and feral.

If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

I don’t know that I can pick one word. Quixotic. Oh, look, I just did. But keep in mind what happens to Don Quixote in the end…

Thank you Timothy for such insight into your amazing world of editing and for sharing Maxim Gorky’s wonderful quote! You’re adored for all the tireless work you do and if I could pick one word to describe you, it would have to be, accomplished.

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