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Monday, August 26, 2013

Stalking Emma Dryden

from Craig Lew

Rancho Santa Margarita, California:

It all began in a Borders Book Store thick with the smell of espresso and the sound of soccer moms gossiping.  
Yeah, that long ago...

I thought I’d do some research in the kid lit arena, possibly write a few kids books between film projects.  Should be easy.
Yeah, that naive...

I picked up a book off the Best Seller shelf with a one word title.

“WTF?  Who in their right mind would take a chance on an edgy YA novel written completely in verse?”

A rapid Google revealed the agent.

Big Sur Writer’s conference:

A quick survey of the room and there she was, looking like the gal from Top Gun.  I sat one seat away but could not get her attention.  Then we ran out of wine.  A chance to impress, I purchased a bottle of red for the table.  
Yeah, that smooth...

“So Laura, how did this book come to be?”  I asked as I poured more red.

Her full lips spoke a sentence but all I heard was “Emma Dryden.”

Emma Dryden.  Not the first or the last time I head that name.  Who was this infamous risk taker, this Yoda, this maker of kid lit royalty?  What vision did she possess?  I needed to know.

At the airport a fellow writer, Jackie Garlick-Pynaert was leaving for Canada, she suggested the Granlibakken, Tahoe Retreat.  I thought she was speaking French.
Yeah, that well travelled...


Suzanne Morgan Williams greeted us with her big smile.  A blonde with nice gams gave a speech.   

I was nervous but my new friends Veronica Rossi and Kelly Sheahan were there at the table for our first crit group.

We were ready to read when in she comes.  Stylish glasses, trendy hair, baby skin and eyes that take you in, spin you around, then gently put you back in your place.  Emma Dryden came to listen.  

After the round of crits we chatted.  

“I’ve been stalking you.”

“Good stalkers don’t generally tell their targets,” Emma said.

“I’m a very polite stalker,” I replied.  

I never did find out how that book in verse came to be published.  But that’s not the point to my story.  Sometimes you don’t find what you first set out to obtain.  Sometimes that leads you to greener pastures, like the friends I made along my journey.  You can outline your manuscript and plot out your life story but the characters in both will determine where you go.  Regardless, it’s the journey not the McGuffin that keeps you turning the page.

I don’t suggest you go out and stalk anyone, but I do recommend you do your research, know your genre and learn as much about the business as possible.

That weekend, Terri Farley (among others) asked me to apply for the Nevada Mentorship, which forever changed my life.  I’ve yet to work with Emma on a project, but she’s become one of my Besties.  I continue to stalk her, but I’ve also become rather obsessed with the blonde with nice gams...her new book comes out in a few weeks.  I think it’s called SMOKE

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

August 27 Book Talk Nation Event:

Suzanne Morgan Williams

Veronica Rossi

Jackie Garlick Pynaert

Emma D. Dryden



  1. I like your style, Craig. And if you must stalk someone in kidlit, Emma is the ONE!!

    Good luck, mate.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

    1. Hahaha! Thanks Margot!

      She has yet to tell me to stop.


  2. Helpful tips, delivered in a clever noir style. And so true...

    I recently heard Laurie McLean of Foreword Literary tell a group of writers to cyber-stalk potential agents-- She did not mean this in a bad way, but as you have described here: with a goal of learning more about people in the writing world. Making great friends is an added perk.

    1. Thank You Charlene!

      I think it's the same thing one would do if there was such a dating service as Match Kid LIt.com


  3. Your besties rock. I know because they're my besties, too. Especially Emma Dryden. And you, of course.

    1. Awwwww. You slay me with your sugar!

      Cheers you.

  4. I do know how that book came about. I picked up (then) S&S editor Julia Richardson in front of Java Jungle in Reno, where she'd just talked with Ellen Hopkins about CRANK. Julia wanted to go to a cowboy bar. Not because of that meeting with Ellen, I don't think. We'd driven halfway to Gerlach, Nevada when Julia mumbled, "I'm either crazy or brilliant." Then Emma got a look at the book,and well, that's where you came in...

    1. AHA! I knew YOU would have the story, Terri.

      I must say Julia had more than enough going for her...Cowboy bar and crazy brilliant.

      Note to self: Check out Gerlach, Nevada.

  5. Craig - this week the Burning Man has descended on Gerlach, Nevada - although that could be a novel in itself. You are a good stalker and a good friend. Now for the books. . .

    1. Suzy!

      Ok. So Burning Man in Gerlach and apparently cowboy bars.
      You are a sweetheart and I miss your big smile!

      ah yes...the books!

  6. Once I was lost near Gerlach way before Burning Man. It is a claim to fame. Maybe.
    Great blog, mister. Funny and crisp.

    1. Thanks Linda!!!!

      Gerlach is now a must see for me...or at least a near see...maybe i could get lost out there too.