I come from a long line of bookworms. When my parents and I left Spain to come to the U.S., we brought two big suitcases for the three of us, one of them was almost entirely full of my father’s books. Our first apartment in Miami was right across the street from a public library and, a couple of blocks away in a strip mall next to a 7-11, there was a used book store whose owners let me trade my vast collection of comic books for worn paperback copies of David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, and hundreds of other titles that opened up the world for me.
So, it made perfect sense to me, once I found myself with a master’s degree in English and the same voracious appetite for books that I’d had when I was eight, to look in the classifieds under “Publishing” when I decided to enter the work force. One of the first ads I answered was for an agent’s assistant and – not having a very clear idea of what an agent did – I showed up in Jane Dystel’s office with my best suit on and what I hoped was a very grown-up look on my face. Jane gave me and my skimpy resume an appraising once over and offered me a job.
A few months later, I came across a manuscript called China Boy by an unpublished lawyer named Gus Lee. I fell in love with the book and watched Jane make a great sale to Dutton and launch a talented writer’s career. And, 17 years later, I still get a kick out of holding a finished book in my hands and knowing that I played a part in making it happen. Everyday, I look for the next brilliant novel, fun beach read, gripping nonfiction narrative, inspirational memoir or biography, and instructional self-help title. Still a bookworm after all these years.