Bloomsbury Children's Books Senior Editor Mary Kate Castellani is coming to our meeting next week! Here's what she has to say about those dratted editorial letters, her vicarious green thumb, and her snack habits. Be sure to come next Wednesday, April 20 at 7pm to hear our extraordinary panel of special guests, which also includes Joy Chu and Caroline Abbey.
1. Do you have favorite reading treats: sweet or savory? Caff or decaf?
I love coffee and I love sweets! But my go-to editing snack is homemade popcorn… I make it with salt and chili powder. A big bowl can get me through at least one chapter!
2. When it comes to your own reading (if there is such a thing), what non-kid lit genre would you reach for?
When not reading for work, I love narrative nonfiction and historical fiction. I immediately purchase any new book in the Maisie Dobbs series and any new book by Erik Larson.
3. Baking, cooking, takeout, or gardening?
I really enjoy both baking and cooking, and I have a growing cookbook collection that makes me so happy. My husband and I also love to go to our local diner at the end of a long, busy week. I live in an apartment in the city, so my green thumb is seriously lacking, but I love being in Central Park, where there are so many beautiful trees and gardens!
4. What is the best approach a writer can take to editorial notes and not freak out? Any advice? Every time I send an editorial letter—especially if it’s a long, involved one—I think about how I would probably want to crawl into a hole if I received my letter. I would say that taking time to process things and giving yourself the room to feel the range of emotions… from fear to frustration to excitement. Spend time thinking and processing before you even turn your computer on. Taking care of yourself emotionally as you go through the revision process is important! Which, in my opinion, means having lots of chocolate!
5. What are the three children's books you most related to as a young reader? What one book do you wish was written back then?
I absolutely adored the Little House on the Prairie books—that’s the series that fed my voracious reading in a way that turned me into a lifelong reader. Where the Red Fern Grows was also very special to me because it was the first time I cried while reading a book—I didn’t know that was possible at the time and it has happened many, many times since. I also remember Shabanu Daughter of the Wind so vividly because it opened my eyes to a culture beyond my own, that I didn’t even know existed! (This was before the internet!) I can’t think of a book I wished for… I was very fortunate in that my experiences were extremely well-represented, and so that has informed my work as an editor, trying to be sure that we are publishing stories of all varieties for kids today.