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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Staff Spotlight: Blake Hoena

Name: Blake Hoena

Occupation/role at Stone Arch:
Production Manager — basically, I help coordinate the process of creating books from contracting authors and illustrators to receiving bound books from the printer vendors, and schedule all the many steps in between.

Years at Stone Arch:
Nearly three years, but I was at Capstone Press for seven years before joining the staff at Stone Arch.

Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin (I’m the staff cheese head), and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

What's your favorite SAB book?
Right now (since it’s always the new books that get me stoked) my favorites are our Zinc Alloy books: Superzero and Revealed (coming out in August). They have some cool, retro-looking art and the quirky humor pokes some jabs at the whole superhero thing.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
In fifth grade, the RIF truck stopped by Emerson Elementary in Stevens Point, WI (my hometown), and I picked out The Hobbit, mostly because of the bright orange cover. Seriously! I had read a lot before that, but The Hobbit was my first “real” novel and the first fantasy story I had read. Reading about elves and dwarfs and dragons was the magic that sparked my interest in writing.

What were you like as an elementary/middle-school student?
I was a nerd then just like I am now, and as it was in school, my life is still all about books (I even own boxes of comics), writing, and computers. I’ve been lucky that my adolescent interests have turned into a career.

What's your favorite thing to do in your free time? Outside of reading and writing, which would be the obvious choices, it’s disc golf. I’m not really that good, but with the weather thawing here in MN, I’m gearing up to get out there and toss a few Frisbees into the woods.

Tell us a memorable Stone Arch Books moment from the past year.
Okay, this isn’t Stone Arch specific, but it involves one of our books. Actually, one of the books I wrote: Ooze Slingers from Outer Space. I was reading it to a friend’s son, and at the point where Ack is about to eat a snottlebug, he gives me this sly, knowing look that says he got the joke. That was quite a thrill.

What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing the books, bound and ready for eager readers, after all the hard work that’s gone into creating them. It’s part relief and part jubilation.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
The pace. We always have something new and exciting in the works, when one set of books is down we have to get cranking on the next set, and with our creative staff ideas are buzzing about. It can get quite dizzying at times, yet the energy behind it all is invigorating.

This is the fourth post in a multi-part series that spotlights the members of the Stone Arch Books staff. Drawing of Blake Hoena by Brann Garvey.

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