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Q&A with Christine Barcellona, Editor, Square Fish, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group | March 27, 2017

by Jessica Anderson (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)


Tell us a little about your position at Macmillan. What does your role as an editor entail?

I’m the editor for Square Fish, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group’s paperback line. That means I get to work on the paperbacks of books from all of MCPG’s imprints: Feiwel and Friends, First Second Books, FSG Books for Young Readers, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Imprint, Roaring Brook Press, and Swoon Reads. I love my job because it allows me to work with everyone in our group, get to know every book we publish, and lets me think strategically about what we’re putting into paperback and how we’re positioning the list and maintaining our backlist.

It’s definitely different from an acquiring editor’s role; since my focus is on Square Fish paperbacks, I usually only edit one or two frontlist titles per year.

Do you have a favorite genre to edit? If so, why?

Not really. Taste-wise, I think I’m pretty genre agnostic (and interested in both fiction and nonfiction), though I guess I’ve edited mostly contemporary YA and middle grade fiction recently. Whatever the genre, I’m interested in commercial stories that are intersectional, feminist, empowering, and ideally centered around queer characters.

What’s the most exciting trend you’re noticing across the children’s book industry recently? 

I don’t usually get very excited about trends.

But here’s something I’m excited about that’s not a trend: I’m glad that the conversation about #ownvoices has been happening, and that there’s now general knowledge throughout the industry about why #ownvoices are so important and should be boosted.

Beyond books, what other art forms do you enjoy? Do these interests ever color the way you edit stories?

I really like movies. Film and screenwriting definitely inform the way I edit, think about, and position books. I took a screenwriting class in college, which I think back to every time I edit a book. Commercial YA closely follows the twelve steps of the hero’s journey, which nowadays is the foundation of how Hollywood movies are written.

Reading anything good right now? Alternatively, what was the last book you really loved?

I recently read and loved Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, an adult novella that came out in January from Publishing. It’s a magical realist, slice-of-life story about queer women in 1940s San Francisco, and I’ve been recommending it to pretty much everyone I know.

As for YA, I recently (finally) read Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, which was just as amazing as everyone says it is. And I’m looking forward to reading the new America Chavez comic that Gabby Rivera is writing for Marvel!

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