29. (Im)Perfecting the Novel w/ Amy Meyerson & Natalie Hallak

In Episode 29, we talk to novelist Amy Meyerson and editor Natalie Hallak about Amy’s latest book, The Imperfects. Along the way, we chat about writing research-based fiction, the author-editor relationship and the collaborative nature of publishing, balancing writing and reading with other responsibilities, writing what you want to know, and when to use the F-word.

Amy Meyerson is the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays, which will be translated into 11 languages. She has been published in numerous literary magazines and teaches in the writing department at the University of Southern California, where she completed her graduate work in creative writing. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives in Los Angeles. Her new novel, The Imperfects, was published in May 2020.

Natalie Hallak is an Editorial Assistant at Park Row Books. Prior to joining Harlequin in 2015, Natalie honed her editorial skills during internships at Touchstone, Putnam, and Writers House Literary Agency. She is building her list in literary fiction with commercial appeal across a variety of genres, as well as select narrative nonfiction.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

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“The sign of a really good editor is that they’re good at pinpointing what’s wrong but give you the space to fix it yourself.” @amy_meyerson

“If you want to be publishing regularly, you always have to have more than one book in your head at a time…I like to be working on one while another one is steeping.” @amy_meyerson

“I think [writing what you know] is true in that granular sense…but for me I’m interested more in writing what I want to know.” @amy_meyerson

“Use what you know to write what you imagine.” @NatalieHallak

“My role [as an editor] is constantly advocating for the book and for Amy in house and just getting people really excited about it…kind of like an in-house champion, if you will. But it’s really a matter of overseeing every step of the process.” @NatalieHallak

“Editors do not read all day. They read on their own time and on weekends, whenever they can. During the day it’s a lot of that in-house advocacy, a lot of talking to the other departments and talking with authors and making sure that [they’re] happy..and that I’m representing [their] needs.” @NatalieHallak

“There’s only one name on the front of the book, but…[it’s] the product of so many more people.” @amy_meyerson

“Always do the writing first.” @amy_meyerson

“I’ve gotten very fast at knowing if a book is for me or not for me…It’s a very subjective industry that way.” @NatalieHallak

“It’s very validating when a book that you put so much time and effort into…when all of that work really pays off and the book takes off and does super well. It’s one of the best feelings.” @NatalieHallak

This episode was recorded on September 28. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

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