“For me, it all comes down to character.”
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Jason Pinter
Jason Pinter is the founder and Publisher of Polis Books, an independent press he launched in 2013, and the bestselling author of six novels and two children’s books. Polis titles have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Thriller Award, and Jason’s own books have been nominated for the Strand Critics Award, Thriller, Shamus, Barry, and more. He was named one of Publisher Weekly’s inaugural Star Watch honorees, which “recognizes young publishing professionals who have distinguished themselves as future leaders of the industry.”
Scribe: What is your approach to the author/publisher relationship?
Jason Pinter: As a writer myself, I empathize with the publishing process from my authors’ perspectives. I know how much work went into their manuscripts, and all the anxieties and unknowns that are a part of being a debut author—or even an author starting out with a new publisher. So I try to be as communicative as possible, to make sure the authors know each step of the process and timelines, what to expect and when. Publishing may be a business, but I try to make our authors feel like they’re part of a creative partnership, so that by the time their book comes out and hits shelves and e-readers, they’re happy with the finished product inside and out.
Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?
JP: Writing. Characters. Plot. You can tell right off the bat—I mean page one—if an author can write. That’s a talent evident in every sentence. But you need to delve into the manuscript to see if they create fully-fleshed out characters, and a story that moves and engages. I like to see stories we haven’t seen before or familiar stories told in a different way. But for me, it all comes down to character. If I’m going to spend the next 300-400 pages with a group of people, I want be fascinated with them, and disappointed when they leave my life at the end of the book.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!
JP: Ain’t Nobody Nobody is a debut novel we’re publishing this fall from a Texas author named Heather Harper Ellett. Every sentence has personality, every character feels like someone you could meet on the street, and the amount of humor and humanity Heather packs into her story just floored me.
Scribe: And also, what is your favorite thriller that came out recently?
JP: Finding Katarina M. by Elisabeth Elo is a riveting novel about a woman who thought her family had perished years ago in Stalin’s gulags, only to find out that may not be the case. And she then must go from D.C. all the way to snow-packed Siberia to learn the truth. On the non-Polis side, I’m not sure it’s a thriller but I can’t stop raving about Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton. It’s The Talented Mr. Ripley for the social media generation, a coiled snake of a novel that continually surprised me (and I’m not easy to surprise).
Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.
Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.