What are some upcoming trends for 2014?
Is it fair to guess since we’re halfway through? In terms of fiction, the post-apocalyptic novel still seems to have gas, and the unreliable narrator and literary fantasy seem popular. A friend and I were discussing that perhaps this last trend is a manifestation of those writers who came of age during the Harry Potter series, but I can’t claim to know the inspiration!
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
For my list, right now, I would love to find a literary novel or memoir that has that ideal trifecta of voice, story and character. Something that has remarkability and surprise. Aimee Bender just wrote this excellent piece in the New York Times about how writers can take lessons from Goodnight Moon, because Margaret Wise Brown creates a world and then completely upends it, breaking her own rules. I love the message of taking risks. There are plenty of lovely books I read every year on submission that I don’t think I can publish heartily because they lack remarkability and don’t take enough risks. Also, I tend to be a sentimental reader and want to edit books that illuminate a subject (I’m a particular fan of the moral quandary), transport a reader and have an uplifting message.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
I returned to Simon & Schuster in 2012, and the new publisher, Jonathan Karp, had created teams within the imprint. So every week we have a full-staff meeting, but we all also have a smaller regular meeting with the same several editors, marketing personnel and publicists. I think having multiple minds thinking about a book from each of these vantage points, and from the moment of acquisition all the way to publication day, is unique and really effective. I know editors can sometimes feel that they’re working in a silo until the point they can present a book to their marketing and/or publicity teams. In our case, the books are shared from the get-go, and the publications benefit.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I oversee the fiction program at Simon & Schuster, and I’m very proud of the works we’re acquiring and publishing. This year alone we’ve had a novel longlisted for the Booker; a debut novel win the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award; another novel longlisted for the Center for Fiction Award (we got this nod pre-publication); and in the suspense realm, we’ve had a novel win the International Thriller Writer’s Thriller of the Year and another that was nominated for the Edgar for best novel. And that’s just on the awards front! I hope the bookselling/publishing world notices that we have elevated our game!
Marysue Rucci is vice president and editor in chief of Simon & Schuster, where she oversees the fiction program and acquires a range of fiction and nonfiction. She is best known for acquiring and editing the No. 1 New York Times best-seller Little Bee by Chris Cleave, which spent more than a year on the New York Times best-seller list and has sold nearly 2 million copies in the U.S. Her current list of authors includes Paul Yoon, Kaui Hart Hemmings, Matthew Thomas, Chelsea Cain and Graeme Simsion. Marysue is a graduate of Northwestern University and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course.