Justin Chanda, Senior Vice President & Publisher
Justin Chanda joined the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster in 2005 after an eight-year stint at HarperCollins. A graduate of New York University, Justin was named publisher of the S&S Books for Young Readers imprint in 2007 and McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2009. He oversees the publication of nearly three hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA. He is keenly interested in publishing books that are equal parts commercial and literary, books that make a contribution to the tradition, while truly entertaining kids. Aside from having the honor of working with the best editorial staff in the industry, he also has the opportunity to edit some of its best talent, including the likes of: Patricia MacLachlan, Peter Brown, Jessie Sima, E.R. Frank, Mike Lupica, S.J. Kincaid, Carter Goodrich, Aaron Reynolds, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Morgan Matson. Justin is also an adjunct instructor for the NYU Graduate Publishing Program.
Anne Zafian, Vice President & Deputy Publisher
Anne Zafian spent the first half of her publishing career at what was then the Time Warner Book Group—now known as Hachette—selling both adult and children’s books to every kind of domestic customer. She cut her teeth on children’s books with TW’s Little, Brown Books for Children, as well as TW’s distribution client, Hyperion Books for Children. Together these experiences fostered her love of children’s publishing, and in 2004, she joined S&S’s sales team, once again overseeing sales of both adult and children’s books, eventually managing the entire Distributor Sales and Retail Marketing team. In 2008, Anne made the move from sales to the publisher’s office, where, as deputy, she focuses largely on working with the publisher and the sales, marketing, publicity, and supply chain teams to help usher their books into the world, from cradle to…not the grave. Working to get books into the hands of booksellers, children, parents, teachers, and librarians—and doing so with a dynamic list of books and authors—is her favorite job, ever.
Caitlyn Dlouhy, Vice President & Editorial Director–Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
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 unsung, 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. Covering most every age group and format, her books have often been published to great accolade, including a Newbery Medal and Honors, a National Book Award and finalists, Printz Honors, Coretta Scott King Awards and Honors, Walter Awards, Edgar Awards and Christopher Medals, PEN USA Literary Awards, a Kirkus Award and finalists, and a Pura Belpré Award. Many have also topped New York Times bestseller lists (and the most banned books in America lists).
It is her great honor to publish such luminaries as Marjorie Agosin, Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathi Appelt, Ashley Bryan, Doreen Cronin, Jennifer de Leon, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharon M. Draper, Candace Fleming, William Joyce, Heather Henson, Richard Jackson, Cynthia Kadohata, Beth Kephart, 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.
Categorizing what she’s looking for could result in her missing out on something that could quite possibly take her breath away, so, if you truly love it, she would truly love to see it!
Reka Simonsen, Editorial Director
Reka Simonsen loves to work on books all across the age range, though she has a real soft spot for middle grade novels, especially those that can turn kids into lifelong readers. She looks for believable, engaging characters whose voices she can’t forget, and stories with that special blend of humor and heart. She has been lucky enough to work with such amazing authors and illustrators as Margarita Engle, Carole Boston Weatherford, Evan Turk, Brian Pinkney, Frank Morrison, Jamie Sumner, Melanie Crowder, J. Anderson Coats, Sean Qualls, and Lloyd Alexander, among others. Books she has edited have received a Newbery Honor, a Geisel Honor, a Sibert Honor, a Coretta Scott King Honor, Walter Honors, a PEN USA Award, Pura Belpré Awards and Honors, Jane Addams Peace Awards and Honors, Americás Awards and Honors, a Christopher Medal, Charlotte Zolotow Awards, and have been finalists for the Morris Award, the Andre Norton Award, and the Edgar Award. Before joining Atheneum, she worked at assorted publishers and bookstores including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and Books of Wonder.
Alexa Pastor, Editor
Alexa Pastor joined Simon & Schuster in August of 2014, eventually moving into her role as editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2018. Since that time, Alexa has been fortunate enough to work on rewarding stories across all age ranges, including #1 New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart, Herstory (a Publishers Weekly 2018 Best of the Year pick), and projects by incredible voices in the industry including Ben Clanton, Kathleen Krull, Anica Mrose Rissi, Marisa Kanter, and Amy Makechnie. Prior to landing her dream job, Alexa interned at both Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Running Press Kids, was a bookseller at Barnes and Noble, and graduated summa cum laude from Villanova University (Go ‘Cats!). She completed her master’s degree in children’s and young adult publishing at Rosemont College in 2015. She is acquiring picture books, middle grade, and YA that hug that literary/commercial line with fresh, honest voices that demand to be heard and a unique approach to structure or theme. And bonus points you can make her laugh or cry enough that people look at her sideways on her long commute. You can follow Alexa on Twitter @Alexa_Pastor926.
Alex Borbolla, Associate Editor
Alex joined Simon & Schuster in April 2015 as managing editorial assistant but was drawn more to story editing than copyediting, so she moved down the hall to Atheneum in May 2016. As assistant to Caitlyn Dlouhy, Alex has been lucky enough to work with multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors, and is the editor of her own talented authors including Kira Bigwood, Alexis Castellanos, Margaret Finnegan, Spencer Hall, Jennifer Moffett, Laura Taylor Namey, and Paola Peretti. Alex is drawn to irreverent picture books; middle grade that balances tough subjects with light, accessible narratives; YA with a strong voice that has something to say; and humor in everything. You can find her full manuscript wishlist here.
Alex earned a BA in English and communications from Rollins College, and holds a MS in publishing from NYU. Follow her on Twitter @Alex_Borbolla.
Sophia Jimenez, Associate Editor
Sophia Jimenez joined Atheneum in October 2020. She’s thrilled to be working with bestselling and award-winning authors including James Howe and Cynthia Levinson, and is looking to acquire picture books, middle grade, and YA. Across genres, Sophia loves voice-driven and character-driven books with tons of atmosphere, and is always looking to spotlight marginalized perspectives. She’s drawn to stories about children of immigrants and bicultural families; fantasy and magical genre-benders inspired by non-Western traditions; and stories about little-known history, or better-known history told from underrepresented perspectives. And humor is always a plus!
Sophia is a board member of Latinx in Publishing. She previously worked at the Junior Library Guild, reviewing children’s books and YA in English and Spanish, and in editorial at S&S’s adult flagship imprint, where she was fortunate enough to work on several New York Times bestsellers. She grew up in Austin, Texas, and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Denver Publishing Institute. Follow her on Twitter @SophiaJay42.
Julia McCarthy, Associate Editor
Julia McCarthy joined Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2017. She enjoys working on an omnivorous range of voice-driven young adult, middle grade, and picture books; and is actively looking to expand Atheneum’s graphic novel list. Julia believes that each story has the power to engender compassion, empathy, and courage within a reader, and is committed to developing a list of books that serve as a safe harbor. She is most immediately drawn towards magical realism; fantasy that addresses contemporary issues; own voices; marginalized or underrepresented groups; non-traditional folklore; LGBTQIA+ perspectives; empowering environmentalism; novels in verse; stories of any age with a touch of clever humor, fantasy, or darkness; witches and goblins and ghosts and Halloweenish whimsy; STEAM-themed novels and picture books, and any sort of graphic novel you can imagine. If you’re a fan of puns, visit her on Twitter @TheJumbles.
Alyza Liu, Assistant Editor
Alyza Liu joined the Simon & Schuster team in August 2017, where she assists Justin Chanda and Denene Millner. Prior to Simon & Schuster, Alyza was an intern at a variety of publishing houses and agencies, and graduated magna cum laude from NYU, where she majored in East Asians studies and minored in English and studio art.
Alyza is primarily acquiring books about marginalized characters, or characters from the Global South. Having grown up on Asian dramas, she’s a fan of escapist, atmospheric, emotionally intense, and character-driven YA across a range of genres. She likes to describe her taste as being “murder and makeouts and nothing in between”—as long as it’s on either extreme of the light-to-dark range. In middle grade, she’s looking for projects that strike the same notes as Studio Ghibli films, Steven Universe, and Over the Garden Wall, as well as heavily-illustrated STEAM nonfiction. In picture books, she’s acquiring biographies of historically overlooked figures, including Sacheen Littlefeather, Thomas Sankara, and Grace Lee Boggs, among others. She’s also especially keen on translated genre fiction from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Find out more about Alyza’s taste and wishlist at AlyzaLiu.com, and talk to her about BuzzFeed Unsolved, angsty postcolonial speculative fiction, and wuxia as praxis @AlyzaLiu.
Kristie Choi, Editorial Assistant
Kristie Choi joined the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster in February 2020 after interning at W. W. Norton & Company, McIntosh & Otis, and previously sleuthing as a private investigator. She assists Reka Simonsen and Alexa Pastor on a range of young adult, middle grade, and picture books.
Regardless of genre or format, she's drawn to character-driven stories that can make her laugh and cry (her favorite type of humor runs more so along the witty or absurd), own voices, BIPOC representation, and magical realism and SFF/speculative grounded with believable, relatable characters and universal themes. She’s looking to acquire picture books that are heartfelt and evocative, poetic and poignant, imaginative and conceptual, humorous and whimsical—picture books that are layered with ideas that can be appreciated by kids and their adults alike. She’s drawn to character-driven MG/YA with a bit of heft to it, balanced with levity and hope, and she especially has a soft spot for lyrical writing and stories with realistic emotions, a dash of fantasy, and a sense of mystery or catharsis. She loves to learn about history, science, and all the ways the universe works and enjoys the occasional nonfiction/bio, especially when it can spotlight lesser-known cultures, movements, or figures in history. In her spare time, she loves to be in nature hiking or gardening, or nerding out on philosophical/morally complex (or not so complex) films/shows and reruns of Avatar the Last Airbender. Find her on Twitter @MinjiPatterson