Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Name: Donnie Lemke
Occupation/role at Stone Arch:
Senior Editor. I work mostly on the graphic novel titles at Stone Arch Books, developing these authors, managing projects, and shaping manuscripts from inception to final product.
Years at Stone Arch:
About a year and a half, although I’ve worked within Capstone Publishers for nearly six years now.
Bachelor of Arts degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. I’m currently working toward my Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
What's your favorite SAB book?
Each season I have a new favorite, and this season it’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Both the author and the illustrator did an amazing job of updating this classic Sherlock Holmes mystery into a modern graphic novel (you’d never guess Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the original version more than 100 years ago!). I also really like the new Graphic Spin titles (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, etc.). Each of these fairy tale retellings is unique in both mood and style, giving the stories a fresh new life for new readers. Great stuff!
What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
Like many young boys, I suppose, my favorite book was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Every afternoon in sixth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Henderson, would read a chapter to the class (or, Heaven forbid, call on one of us to read), and each day I was left hanging in anticipation for the next installment. Will Brian find shelter? Will he learn how to build a fire? Will he ever see his parents again? Or will he succumb to the harsh Canadian wilderness? I tell you, it was torture. I also really liked another survival story called Avalanche by Arthur Roth. I can’t find this book anywhere today (believe me, I’ve tried), but if you can, be sure to check it out (and let me know where you found it!). It’s about a boy who’s trapped beneath the snow for a week, and the author gives all of the gruesome details of his survival. What’s not to love?
What were you like as an elementary/middle-school student?
I was a pretty quiet kid, got good grades, and stayed out of trouble. Actually, I distinctly remember the only time I was ever disciplined in elementary school. It was second grade, and I was standing in the lunch line. My teacher, who shall remain nameless, supposedly asked the class to stop talking. Now, even to this day, I don’t remember her (or him) giving this instruction. But anyway, I talked, and she (or he) gave me a “Sad Snoopy,” a disciplinary slip decorated with the frowning face of the Peanuts pooch. That night, I had to take the slip home and get it signed by my parents. Honestly, I still can’t look at a Peanuts comic without getting a little teary-eyed.
What's your favorite thing to do in your free time?
I spend most of the day with my face buried in a book or crammed against a computer screen. So, during my free time, I like to get outside as much as possible. During summer evenings, you’d probably find me relaxing by the lake or the pool. I also like to run, and I just recently completed my fourth marathon in an excruciating 3 hours, 9 minutes, and 26 seconds (Boston, here I come!).
Tell us a memorable Stone Arch Books moment from the past year.
Several months ago, the editors and designers at Stone Arch Books visited a nearby school library in Edina, Minnesota. While there, we had a chance to observe a classroom of elementary students. Seeing actual kids reading and enjoying the books we had created was extremely fulfilling—kind of like a publishing circle of life, or something like that.
What’s the best part of your job?
The constant variety. Every day at Stone Arch Books is different than the last. One day I’ll be editing a Graphic Sparks manuscript, trying to come up with a booger joke that’ll make boys laugh. The next day, I’ll be working on a Zone book, thinking of ways to make them scream. It’s never boring.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Keeping up with the kids. The hottest trends are always changing, and we’re always trying to figure out the next big thing. Everyone at Stone Arch Books spends countless hours reading comics, playing with the latest action figures, and watching Saturday morning cartoons. Okay, I guess it’s really not so hard (Pass the Cap’n Crunch!).
This is the fifth post in a multi-part series that spotlights the members of the Stone Arch Books staff. Drawing of Donnie Lemke by Brann Garvey.