By Lindsay Bandy
Lindsay: Hi there, Emily, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Café! Thanks so much for joining us to chat! As we settle into our booth, what are you drinking?
Emily: I am drinking a large coffee. A very, very, very large coffee.
Lindsay: What’s that you’re snacking on?
Emily: A chocolate chip cookie!
Lindsay: Yummy! Now, tell us, what is one book that has changed your life in some important way?
Emily: This is difficult. I can think of at least 3 right off the bat, but sticking with children’s books, I’d have to say A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Giver. I know this is cheating but I couldn’t decide. Both opened my world in different ways. The first time I ever felt like I was actually living in the world of a book was when I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. When I finished with Francie’s story, I felt a loss that stopped me in my tracks. I remember where I was – I had finished it on the bus and as I exited to walk home, it struck me: I was done with Francie, and I felt an intense sadness I had never experienced with a book before. The Giver opened my world in a different way. I read it in 6th grade and for the first time, I found myself having political opinions. And they were passionate. It scared me but I loved it. I reread The Giver every now and then and am always transported to my 12 year old self, angrily yelling about censorship.
Lindsay: The Giver is on my Favorite Book Shelf, too. I’m wondering if the upcoming movie can live up to the book. I know Lois Lowry is in on the movie-making, so I’m sure she’ll take good care of it! Speaking of authors, if you could go back in time (or stay in the present) to meet any author or illustrator, who would it be?
Emily: Another obnoxious cheat from me (I just can’t help myself): I would want to go back in time and meet Ursula Nordstrom or Maxwell Perkins, who were both editors. Nordstrom edited everyone from E.B.White to Laura Ingalls Wilder to Maurice Sendak. Leonard Marcus did a book several years ago called Dear Genius, which is just the collected letters of Ursula Nordstrom to her authors/illustrators/colleagues. She’s brilliant, hilarious, calm, dignified, and firm—all things I wish I could be. I flip through this book often.
Perkins was the editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, among others. In college, I took a class on those authors and Maxwell Perkins came up a lot. It’s what first got me interested in the editorial side of things. I would also want to ask him to tell me personal, secret stories of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
If I have to pick an author/illustrator, I guess I’d go with… E.B.White. He just seems like such a fascinating figure.
Lindsay: You are about to become the first editor on the moon, and you’re packing your space bag for the long journey. You don’t have a lot of room, what with your spacesuit and all. So what one book do you bring along to pass the time? What one non-literary item do you pack?
Emily: Good question! I love that it’s the moon and not a deserted island.
Book: Cosmos or Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. Might as well read about space while I’m in space, right? Sagan’s writing is wonderful. To this day, the opening paragraph of Cosmos is one of my favorite openings of anything I’ve read. The man was a genius, and even though they’re written for adults, the books are very accessible to young adults and middle grade readers.
Non-literary item? A puppy.
Lindsay: Way to be prepared for your voyage, Emily! And I also think the opening paragraph is gorgeous. Here it is, for those who haven’t read it….
“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
And that puppy would look adorable catching floating kibble in the spaceship! Awwww….
Speaking of adorable, you are invited to a baby shower and asked to bring a book in lieu of a card. What one picture book would you give? Why?
Emily: Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. It’s a timeless story about individuality. It was my favorite story growing up.
Lindsay: What one thing do you wish people would do more of BEFORE they submit to you?
Emily: Read my bio! I still get a significant amount of fantasy, but I am not a fantasy reader. Mild magical realism is about as far as I can go in that realm.
Lindsay: Will do. Any parting words of advice for writers and illustrators?
Emily: Revise and try to stay positive. It’s a terribly competitive industry you’ve chosen to work in. You will DEFINITELY feel rejection but remember that that is part of the game. Just try to be open minded, listen to your colleagues and any other feedback you get and smile.
Lindsay: Great advice! Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us! You’ve inspired us, and we are looking forward to meeting you on August 17th!