An Interview with Printz Award Winner Daniel Nayeri

As part of our celebration of the 2021 Youth Media Awards, we will be featuring original interviews with 2021 honorees in the weeks ahead, and what better place to start than with Everything Sad is Untrue? This complicated and tender novel entered the world and immediately began making waves, ultimately being honored with the 2021 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellent in Young Adult Literature. Rumor has it that when the award committee called to share the news, Nayeri poured a bottle of champagne over his head! What a way to celebrate!

2021 Printz Award Zoom Call with Daniel Nayeri and Committee Members

This interview comes from member-manager Sara Beth, who shared a conversation with 2021 Printz Award winner Daniel Nayeri a few weeks before the YMAs. It was originally published on her site, and she and Nayeri have agreed to republish it here.

Daniel Nayeri is no newcomer to the publishing world. His has been a trusted voice, both as an editor and a writer, for years. But the success of his latest novel (Everything Sad is Untrue) has launched him into the public eye, and we are all the better for his generosity, his kindness, and the beauty of his book. For this book, and for the time and energy he has granted to participate in this interview, I am grateful.

INTERVIEWER: Before we get into Everything Sad is Untrue, I’m curious about your work at Odd Dot. Can you describe your mission, and your path into publishing?

NAYERI: My path in publishing would require one of those modern hour-long TV drama series that marketing teams would describe as “sizzling!” and “pulls no punches!” I just need Dev Patel to gain some weight, break his nose a few times, and call me. But the short version is that I’ve been lucky enough to edit books in almost every category of publishing. Literary fiction, history, crime drama, pop nonfiction, memoir, coffee table books, fashion, cookbooks, YA novels, Sci-Fi Fantasy, middle grade, picture books, graphic novels, sticker books, novelty projects, and toys. They’re all completely different spaces, of course. But the core of making something, of being creative within the confines of a new format, genre, or market, is that each project is always a new delightful puzzle.

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Book Recommendations for Peter Pan Fans

Peter PanI happen to be a Peter Pan fan. Who doesn’t want to be young forever and be able to fly? I love J. M. Barrie’s book and like the movie versions too, even though they take liberties with Barrie’s original story.

You may not associate Peter Pan with the holidays but Barrie’s Peter Pan was written first as play in 1904 before it was a book, and pantomime adaptations of the play are still frequently staged around Christmas in the United Kingdom. Maybe that’s why Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken was shown on television last night. If you missed it, or just can’t wait for the Peter Pan movie with Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard coming out July 17, 2015, I have some read-alikes for you.

I’d read Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchers (2004) when it first came out but I’d never listened to the audio version narrated by Jim Dale, even though I’d downloaded it last summer as part of SYNC’s free summer audiobook program for young adults that pairs classics with required summer reading books. I’d forgotten how funny it was with all the hilarious characters’ names like Smee (from Barrie’s original book) and other new ones like Slank, Black Stache, Tubby Ted and Mr. Grin (the crocodile). The books in this series might seem a little young but I think they’re classics that can be read and enjoyed at any age.

In Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter, an orphan, is forced to sail from England on the ship Never Land with a group of Peter and the starcatchersother orphans, and while on broad he befriends Molly, a young Starcatcher, who must guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

In the sequel, Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006) Peter and Tinker Bell travel to England to help save the stardust after they discover that Molly and the other Starcatchers are in danger when the sinister being Lord Ombra visits Never Land and appears to be controlling people through their shadows.

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