Posted on May 15, 2012
Stephen acquired his first hardcover children’s book (Lassie Come Home) at the age of ten by winning a bet that he rigged. It was the first crime he committed for a good book, but not the last. He has been involved professionally with children’s books for forty years, first as an academic, then as senior vice president and publisher of Books for Young Readers at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and as president and publisher of Front Street, a small, independent press he founded, deliberately, on April Fool’s Day of 1994. In 2004 Front Street was acquired by Boyds Mills Press, where Stephen was publisher until Labor Day, 2008. On Inauguration Day, 2009, Stephen founded namelos.
Stephen has worked with such authors and artists as Felicia Bond, Nancy Eckholm Burkert, Brock Cole, Carolyn Coman, Roald Dahl, Donna Diamond, Madeleine L’Engle, Martine Leavitt, Patricia McCormick, An Na, Marilyn Nelson, Adam Rapp, George Selden, Maurice Sendak, Uri Shulevitz, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Garth Williams.
Stephen lectures and publishes widely on children’s publishing and, most recently, on the digital transformation of publishing. For many years he was on the faculty of the Highlights Foundation, the Radcliffe Publishing Program, the Stanford Publishing Program, and the Columbia Publishing Program.
Stephen lives in rural New Hampshire with his wife, Carolyn, their cats, Pup and Jack Coman, their dogs, Sola and Freya, four hens, Judy, Betty, Lucy, and Lena, one rooster, Liberace, and three nameless fish. He reads a lot, and grows raspberries and roses.
My passion is fiction. All genres. I’m particularly interested in plots—of action, of character, of thought—and in beginnings and middles and ends. I want all the parts of a novel to fit together seamlessly, to flow effortlessly and compellingly. I want the reader to be so immersed in the story that everything else disappears. I love the process of working with an author to make this happen. I can help most if I have a complete draft of a novel to work with. Then I can see where the author thinks the book begins and ends. Early drafts usually show where the author started and stopped writing, which is very different from the beginning and ending of a story. When I edit, I figure out where an author is in the process by infering the inherent structure of the story which is implicit in the draft, and then I guide the author in organizing and refining the constituent elements of character, plot, pacing, and diction. The goal is to achieve a compelling and unified narrative embodying the author’s unique vision.