Michael Roux – University of Illinois Press

As well as finding out their lives in a day, we’re also quizzing our AUP colleagues what they like about University Press publishing, what they’re reading and whether they’re a fox or a hedgehog. Intrigued? Read on to find out more about Michael Roux, Marketing & Sales Manager at University of Illinois Press.

What do you love about the University of Illinois Press?

Beyond employment, the University of Illinois is a large part of my family’s history.  I met my wife in a business administration class at the University.  My parents and her parents both met here and my father-in-law was on the faculty.  My oldest son is a graduate and my youngest son is currently a freshman.  What I love about the University of Illinois Press specifically is the opportunity to help authors reach a larger audience.  Most of the authors we publish are not known to the general public, so seeing an author’s book reviewed in widely read publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times or helping the author become a recognized expert in their field is genuinely exciting.

What is your favourite book? Why?

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.  I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite book, but like the main character I love to make music-related lists (top three concerts I wish I would have attended, etc.) and it strongly resonated with me at a particular time in my life.  I was working at a record store when High Fidelity was published and remember reading parts of the book in the store between helping customers.  The character played by Jack Black in the film version (Barry Judd) is very familiar to me.  I’ve worked with a lot of Barry Judds.

What are you currently reading?

I read a lot for work.  Usually publication packets—proposal, sample chapter, peer reviews—for books the Press is considering for publication.  At home I’m reading We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you and what piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in publishing?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is, if you don’t like situation in life or at work, don’t just complain, propose a possible solution.  The advice I would give to someone starting in university press publishing is, be collaborative in spirit and in practice.

Are you a hedgehog or a fox?

Uh, I don’t understand the question so I’ll pass.  This non-answer feels like the poker proverb that if you’re in a game and can’t figure out who the “mark” is, you’re the mark.  Somehow, I think I’ve revealed myself as the mark.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was 13 I wanted to be a professional basketball player.  My dad coached high school basketball and I eventually grew to be 6’8”.  I gave up the dream soon after middle school and didn’t attempt to play basketball in college. 

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I collect vinyl LPs so an original copy of Wire’s album “Chairs Missing” (UK-Harvest) and an original copy of the first Stooges album (US-Elektra).  There are plenty of more valuable LPs, but these two would fill holes in my collection, and I just can’t bring myself to pay $80 each on eBay.

What do you find most irritating in other people?

Do as I say, not as I do.

Who was/is you mentor or inspiration?

My close family members–parents, brother, wife, and children—have had the most positive impact on my life in slow developing ways.  Going back to my teenage years, I would say three friends inspired me most: 1) the first went straight from high school into the music business and signed a bunch of famous bands who you have heard of.  He knew exactly what he wanted to do in life and did it; 2) the second wrote excellent songs and helped start my own path in music, which I followed for 20 years.  He never “made it” in the traditional sense but he continues to compose music and engineer recordings for up and coming and established musicians; 3) the third is the smartest person I know. When I took an hour to get a “C” on a calculus test she took 25 minutes to get a perfect score.  She works to develop cutting edge pharmaceuticals and volunteers her time and money to be a positive force in her community.

Ambition or talent: which matters more?

In creative occupations, I think talent comes first.  The seed has to be there to make those 10,000 hours of practice fully blossom.

What is the greatest challenge of our time?

In the US, I think that it’s finding a way to admit and collectively account for slavery’s continuing legacy.