Working with Sandra Markle

[I asked Marcia Marshall, a veteran nonfiction editor on our staff, to talk about her long collaboration with Sandra Markle.]

I started thinking about how long Sandra Markle and I have worked together. On my disorganized bookshelves, I found the first title we did together: Exploring Winter, published in 1984. IMG_7698 Sandy did the black-and-white line drawings in the book. In those days of metal type, the manuscript was sent to the typesetter, and the designers worked with long galley proofs, which they cut up and pasted into a book dummy. The original art was enlarged or reduced to fit by way of —I think by then —the copy machine and placed within the dummy. At that time, Sandy lived in Atlanta, and we corresponded by letter (!) and phone.

Looking over Sandy’s books on my bookshelves, I see we covered the seasons and did books on math, physics, and electricity. I became an armchair naturalist as I edited her books on animals—first the Outside and Inside series, which explained the inner anatomy of the aimagenimal, as well as its natural history. I remember the day Sandy called me at home to tell me excitedly that her expert in Australia had found a kangaroo road kill and would be able to do the dissecting and photography needed for Outside and Inside Kangaroos.

Sandy went to Antarctica twice, and I shared her experiences in books about Adélie penguins and what it is like to live in frozen worlds. I also found that I would read articles in the newspapers and science periodical about the newest developments in ocean exploration or Arctic living or some other subject and think, “I know about that from working on Sandy’s latest manuscript.”

Soon after Sandy emerged from a winter in Antarctica, newly married and living in New Zealand, I moved to Minneapolis and to Lerner. This has been the best part of our longtime collaboration. Lerner respects nonfiction and does an especially beautiful job with reproducing photographs. Her series on predators, scavengers, and prey have been very popular. Everyone admires the eye-popping photos and intelligent, accessible texts. New Zealand is no problem in this electronic age. In fact, things move faster with e-mail and the Internet. Photos and layouts fly back and forth, and exciting books are the result. At Lerner, we have worked on books about rescues, insects, arachnids, and medicine. I’m ready to follow Sandy wherever she goes next.