Interview: Morgan Baden, Senior Director of Social Media at Scholastic & YA Writer

56d1abf2359d1323ecd3a41b24d0d12aMorgan Baden is Senior Director of Social Media & Internal Communications at Scholastic. She lives in Brooklyn and works full time in children’s publishing at a dream-come-true kind of job, where she gets to write about books and speak on panels across the country about social media best practices. She’s also a YA author, represented by Amy Tipton of Signature Lit, a sort-of yogi, and a volunteer for the amazing Girls Write Now. She grew up on the shores of south New Jersey and graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2001.

She has one contemporary YA novel on submission, and is hitting “send” on my next project, a YA magical realism/sort-of paranormal, this week! She talks about it here. Keep up with Morgan on her website

Let’s see how Morgan answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
My mom-mom’s front porch. I grew up in that house, which is a certified historical landmark on Long Beach Island, NJ, and now, on summer nights you can find four generations hanging out on that porch (three of which are usually drinking gin and tonics), smelling the salt air from the bay and people-watching. It’s bliss.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I have two: “The Rescue Blues” by Ryan Adams and “Twinkle” by Tori Amos. (I really have 20 favorite songs, but I feel like these adequately represent my tastes!) I’ve been a Tori fan since I was 15 — right when Boys for Pele, the album Twinkle is on — was released. So I would put that CD into my 7-disc changer, sit in my bedroom sophomore year of high school, and just play it on repeat. As for Ryan — I think I discovered him in my early 20s. “The Rescue Blues” is so sultry and sexy…there’s no other damaged boy who sings about his pain the way he does.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Singing. I’d be able to stop turning down all these karaoke invitations!

On what occasion do you lie?
I err on the side of harsh, brutal honesty most times, but when I think I’m going to deeply hurt someone’s feelings, I’ll lie. Sometimes.

What is your present state of mind?
Eager! Fall and winter are my favorite seasons, and I have so many exciting things happening this time of year.

What is your motto?
My favorite high school teacher had this quote by Stephen Grellet on a poster on his wall, and I repeat it often: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Confidence. I’m drawn to people who know who they are and what they want.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Hilarious” is my adjective of choice, and every time I hear myself using it I die a little inside. I’ve also caught myself using “theoretically” a bit too often for my liking these days.

Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1879

Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1879

Your favorite painting?
The first time I went to the Met I was gobsmacked by Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage (which was unexpected, because I am not religious!). There’s something about her eyes in that painting — she’s haunting, and haunted, and you can see that she’s telling a story with them. It’s stunning. I had a framed print of it on my wall for years and years.

What is your favorite journey?
The journey of producing something — anything, really — from inspiration to idea to execution.

What is your favorite time of day?
Late afternoon, when it feels like some kind of shift is about to happen.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Ellen Olenska from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. (And only if it’s a decaf.)

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I have more than I dreamed of right now…and yet I still want to achieve one more thing: publish my first novel.

Who or what is your first love?
The Baby-sitters Club. They were so formative to me as a reader and a writer; they’re what led me to work at Scholastic; they’re still the first books I reach for when I have an hour to spare and want to decompress.

What’s the last dream you remember?
It was my wedding day, and my fiance and I were thumbing through the guest book and freaking out because we didn’t recognize any of the names of people who had signed it. (Wedding planning is stressful.)

What’s your madeleine?
There’s this precise smell of boxes sitting in a musty storage space that gets me every time. As a teenager I worked at this tee-shirt shop on Long Beach Island, and on the morning shifts we had to restock, which involved exploring a couple of different storage units that were filled with boxes, overflowing with tees and sweats. I loved that summer job — I worked there for 6 or 7 summers and it was so incredibly formative — and every now and then I wander into a store that has a similar smell, and it always makes me smile.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Love.

Interview: Sarah Nicolas, YA writer and Associate Publicist at Entangled Publishing

Sarah Nicholas is a twenty-something who currently lives in Orlando with a singing-dancing-fool of a roommate and the cutest mutt on the face of the planet. She’s “Thursday” on the YA Rebels, a contributor at YAtopia, a freelance author’s assistant, and an associate publicist at Entangled Publishing.

Sarah believes that some boys are worth trusting, all girls have power, and dragons are people too. She’s a proud member of the Gator Nation and has a BS in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Sales.

You can follow her on Twitter @sarah_nicolas

Let’s check out Sarah’s answers to the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Having (and acting on) a purpose. Doing more than the minimum. Being constructive because you want to, not because somebody is making you or paying you.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Yesterday. The first time I remember hearing it was a boy on the bus singing it. I was in middle school, but he was in high school and very talented.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Singing! I’m sure there are more productive things I could wish for, but I’m a terrible singer and have always wished for the kind of talent that would immediately connect me with people.

On what occasion do you lie?
I tend to avoid the truth more than I lie––and that’s usually to spare someone’s feelings.

What is your present state of mind?
Imagine if you were riding a roller coaster and the shoulder restraint was broken.

What is your motto?
If it is to be, it is up to me. Heard it first in third grade; it rang true even then.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Courage of conviction.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
So.

Your favorite painting?
La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John William Waterhouse.

What is your favorite journey?
The journey between “stranger” and “best friend”.

What is your favorite time of day?
1AM.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Sherlock Holmes, I think. Though if you ask me tomorrow, it will probably change.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I guess… figuring out what I need to do before I can die happy?

Who or what is your first love?
Donatello (the ninja turtle). Unless you mean “first” as in present tense, then it would be connecting people.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Oh gosh. I was at this athletics competition that had all the importance of the Olympics, but the contests were silly childhood pool games – like paddling in cardboard canoes and diving for colored rings.

What’s your madeleine?
The smell of old, well preserved books.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Passion.

Interview: Brenda Drake, YA author

Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air-force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memory growing up is that of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tall tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting bookstores and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappoint).

Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She’s represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management. Look for her debut young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming February, 2014 by Month9Books and visit her here.

Let’s check out Brenda’s answers to the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Today, and each day where my family and friends are healthy and around to enjoy it with me.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
In My Life by The Beatles. I can’t narrow in on a specific memory of when I first heard it. I just know that it fits life perfectly. I’m sure one of the many adults in my life had played it sometime while I was growing up.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to heal. No one would ever be sick again. Of course, I’d be swamped with people stopping by to cure things and stuff. But I’d make tons of friends in the process.

On what occasion do you lie?
Only when it is necessary. There are just times when the truth doesn’t do anyone any good.

What is your present state of mind?
Peaceful. I’m contently happy with my large cup of coffee, at the computer writing, my hubby beside me doing that top secret thing he does, and the Wild Kingdom (aka cats and a dog who thinks he’s a cat) perched on my desk or nestled at my feet.

What is your motto?
Accept gifts. Give back. Be compassionate.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Acceptance, because I can be off the wall sometimes and they have to understand and accept my unique humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome. Is there a better verb than that? I don’t think so.

Your favorite painting?
Mona Lisa, because the girl looks like she just woke up and didn’t do her hair or makeup. No cares, she’s still loved by masses.

Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-05

What is your favorite journey?
To the coffee pot. It’s short and rewarding at the end. But seriously, going to Anne Frank’s annex in Amsterdam was one of my favorites. It makes one very grateful for a peaceful life.

What is your favorite time of day?
Morning. Coffee and writing, need I say more.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Dr. Seuss. I really want to know what went on in his mind. How did he come up with all those stories and make them rhyme? All is right in the world when I read his many books at night to the girls. I feel like a kid again and wonder, oh the thinks I can think.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
This is a tough one. I could die happy today.

Who or what is your first love?
My grandfather. He was such a giving man, and everyone loved him. He showed compassion to all and helped whoever he could when they were down. I still hear his pockets full of change jingling around me, as if he’s letting me know he’ll always watch over me.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I’m not sure I should repeat that here. Ha! No, seriously, I don’t know what are dreams or just my head playing out stories I want to write.

What’s your madeleine?
The smell of Christmas cookies baking. It reminds me of the many years of decorating parties with the ones I love. So many great times and laughs.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Family.