Curated by: SARAH WHELAN
Welcome to the TC Alumni spotlight, where we highlight the achievements of our former staff members! This month, we’re checking in with Meghan Maria McCullough, a former Senior Editorial Assistant and Amherst College Class of 2015. Since graduation, Meghan has worked in publishing at organizations such as Penguin Random House and Union Literary, and has most recently been hired as an Editorial Assistant at Arthur A. Levine Books.
Congratulations on your new role at Scholastic! What drew you to join this publisher in particular?
Thank you! I’m just over three months in and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be here. I was drawn to Scholastic, and my imprint, Arthur A. Levine Books, in particular, because I love children’s books–picture books, Middle Grade, Young Adult especially. That’s what Scholastic does, and in my opinion, we do it better than anyone else out there. I am so proud to work for the publisher of, yes, Harry Potter, but also of some of the most remarkable children’s books being released today. Some of my recent favorites of ours that have been just-released or are coming down the pike include: a Middle Grade called The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, a young adult novel coming in February called The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg, and a just-released picture book called Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. I am of the mind that the books that we read growing up are the most important books we will ever read–they are the books that shape us, they are our closest friends, they are the building blocks that we stack into a worldview. I still can’t quite believe that now I get to have a hand in making them.
You’ve worked for a number of literary organizations, big and small. Do you have any advice for someone hoping to break into the world of NYC book publishing?
Yes, I’ve certainly dabbled! My biggest piece of advice is to be open to anything. It’s easy to have a narrow view and understanding of publishing from the outside looking in, but those looking to break in will find that there’s much more to the publishing world than they ever could have imagined. Be open to learning about it, and to trying things that are new and strange, perhaps even previously unheard of to you. Stay in contact with the people who you meet along the way.
You’re currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. What drew you to the New School?
I began pursuing my MFA before I landed my current job at Scholastic, as a way to keep myself immersed in the children’s lit world. I knew what I really wanted was to be an editor of children’s lit, but writing has always been a passion of mine as well. When I saw that The New School not only offered MFA classes at night, so I could continue to work full time, but also that they had a Writing for Children and Young Adults concentration specifically, I knew I had to go for it. I’m so glad I did.
Where you find writing inspiration?
Inspiration has always been a really confusing thing to me. I’ve never been hit with inspiration in the sense that an idea or a story has come to me out of the blue. I need to work at it. So, in that vein, I think I personally am inspired by being in the classroom and working at it. Sitting in workshop and listening to my classmates talk about their writing, and about mine. That’s inspiring to me. I just hope I can stick with it once the program is over!
Who/what are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading, predictably and so enjoyably, an Arthur A. Levine book: Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork. I’ve only just started it, it’s a young adult novel, and I can already tell I’m going to love it. It centers on Sara and Emiliano Zapata, siblings born and raised in Mexico. Sara’s best friend has disappeared four months ago, likely abducted. Emiliano, an ambitious self-starter, does a whole slew of jobs to make ends meet and help provide for his family. Things are definitely about to get (even more) complicated for the both of them.
Do you have any special projects in the works?
Well, I’m currently staring down the nose of my thesis semester, so the answer to this had better be yes! I have something brewing, it’s a total hodgepodge, and I love writing it, so that’s a good sign, at least. It’s YA, it’s dual narration, and it involves lots of pasta.
Favorite TC memory?
Can I be a total dork and say the snacks Jen brought to every weekly staff meeting? (I hope she still does this. I honestly lived for it.)