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The Editor-Writer Mentorship: promoting voices from the margins
Deeba Zargarpur

Our 2021 Editor Mentors!

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Books for Young Readers and Salaam Reads (Simon & Schuster)

2021 Picture Book Mentor

Deeba Zargarpur, editor at Books for Young Readers and Salaam Reads, imprints of Simon & Schuster, works on a wide range of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels. Her aim is to acquire commercial books that empower young people from diverse backgrounds. At heart, Deeba believes there is magic and adventure waiting around every corner and especially loves picture books that gravitate toward premises that inspire imagination and mischievous creativity.




Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster)

2021 Picture Book Mentor

Caitlyn Dlouhy likes to say she grew up in a tree, a massive willow where she hauled up books tip top high.  From that perch, she could see the whole world… through the lens of those books. Her publishing choices have always stemmed from this: giving readers the opportunity to see themselves, and the rest of the world.    The power of voice --voices unusual and unexpected, marginalized or yet un-sung, voices that just plain shimmer and hum, that press and push and experiment -- is utterly irresistible to her, and her books have always showcased this.  Authors/illustrators with whom she works closely include  Marjorie Agosin, Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathi Appelt, Ashley Bryan, Doreen Cronin,  Jennifer de Leon, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharon Draper, Candace Fleming, William Joyce, Desmond Hall, Heather Henson, Cynthia Kadohata, Beth Kephardt, Betsy Lewin, Alison McGhee, Matt Mendez, An Na, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, James Ransome, Jason Reynolds, Sujean Rim, Eric Rohmann, Judith Viorst, and Alicia D. Williams, to name just a few.  

Alyson Heller
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Aladdin Books (Simon & Schuster)

2021 Middle Grade Fiction Mentor

Alyson joined the Aladdin team in 2008 after a two-year stint in the Simon & Schuster Associates Program. She acquires picture books, chapter books, middle grade, with a soft spot for contemporary middle grade. On both the non-fiction and fictional side, she has a particular affinity for strong female characters who kick butt and take names, stories that represent the under-represented and stories that take on tough stuff in the middle grade space. You can find her on Twitter @EditorAlysonH.

Jessi Smith
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Aladdin Books (Simon & Schuster)

2021 Middle Grade Fiction Mentor

Jessi joined Simon & Schuster in 2016, starting out in the Pulse imprint before happily joining the awesome Aladdin family. In chapter book through middle grade, she is drawn to both contemporary and fantastical escapist reads that have a combination of whimsy, quirk, humor, and heart. She is a huge fan of collaboration and brainstorming and loves nothing more than helping an author tell their story.

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Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)

2021 Young Adult Fiction Mentor

Kate Prosswimmer is an Editor at Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster children’s publishing. She has worked with such amazing authors as Laura Silverman, F.T. Lukens, Zoraida Cordova, Amanda Foody, Cat Valente, Jess Keating, and Chelsea Pitcher. Kate acquires a range of picture book, middle grade, and young adult titles, and if she had to describe her taste across all categories in one word, it would be “escapist.” Whether she’s reading contemporary or speculative, she most enjoys stories that take her out of her everyday life!  

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Simon & Schuster

2021 Adult Fiction Mentor (commercial upmarket/literary)

Lashanda Anakwah is an Assistant Editor at Simon & Schuster. On the fiction side, she’s looking to acquire commercial upmarket, literary and subversive fiction with a focus on voice driven narratives, romances, family sagas, and underrepresented cultures and voices. For non-fiction, Lashanda is interested in dynamic essay collections, narratives pertaining to socio-political issues, true crime, and memoirs which highlight geography in some shape or form.     

Sally Howe



Scribner (Simon & Schuster)

2021 Adult Nonfiction Mentor

Sally Howe, Editor, joined Scribner in the spring of 2016. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her recent and upcoming titles include An Elegant Woman by Martha McPhee, I Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro, A Cure for Darkness by Alex Riley, and House of Sticks by Ly Tran. She is also the editor of Rachel Monroe's Savage Appetites and Thomas Page McBee's Amateur.


A few notes on Sally's interests and best fit for the 2021 Mentorship: Sally is interested in memoir (examples of memoirs that are the best fit for Sally’s experience: The Yellow House, Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, and The Collected Schizophrenias), cultural history, narrative nonfiction, and popular science and psychology, particularly as they engage with contemporary politics, race, class, and gender, internet and work culture, and the natural world.  

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