When Cecil Castellucci was in the indie rock band Nerdy Girl, she went by the name of Cecil Seaskull. Now the author of books and graphic novels for young adults has a new release, The Year of the Beasts, and is busy working on The Tin Star, a two-book sci-fi series that takes place on a space station.
Castellucci, whose works include Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, and First Day on Earth, is a guest speaker at SLJ‘s August 9 online event, SummerTeen: A Celebration of Young Adult Books. If you’ve signed up for SummerTeen, make sure to gather your teens to hear Castellucci’s speak on the “Alternate Formats: New Approaches to Teen Fiction” panel from 1: pm.-2:00 p.m. Registration is still open.
What’s one of the most moving things you’ve heard someone say about your work?
CC: Well, with Boy Proof, once I got an email from a girl saying that it was the first present that her mom had ever gotten right. They read it together, and she said that they talked for the first time in two years over breakfast discussing it. That really moved me. With the Plain Janes, a lot of girls write me to tell me that they did art attacks or noticed street art and are now pursuing art in college. I’m all about everybody becoming an artiste of some kind-amateur or professional-so that thrills me to bits.
What do you like best about writing for a YA audience?
CC: I like best that teens like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like. They cut right to it. They don’t like things that don’t ring true. So, for me, as an author it means that there is a no fluff kind of approach. Tell the truth. Tell the story. And either a kid will like it or hate it, because either it’s for them or not. Also, I adore the fact that a lot of times it’s the first time that they are processing sophisticated ideas, and I love how excited they get about that.
How did you end up writing for your specific genre?
CC: I always wanted to write YA, so I was always aiming for here, rather than ending up here. I fell in love with stories as a teen-books, movies, comics-and so that always seemed like the best people to write for.
How valuable are librarians at getting the word out about your work?
CC: Librarians are one of the master keys to getting the word out about books. They know their kids. They know how to read a kid. And because librarians are so knowledgeable, they can get the right book into the right kids’ hands. I know for me, as someone who writes about outsiders, that is very important. My books are the perfect book for a particular kind of teen, and, of course, rip roaring fun for every one else.
Do you ever worry about your work being censored?
CC: I don’t worry about that because worrying about that is the death of art. It is our job as artists to follow the story wherever it wants to go. We must write with no fear.
What are you working on now?
CC: I’m working on a book called The Tin Star. It is book one of my new sci-fi duet (two book series), and it takes place on a space station and has lots of aliens in it.