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.

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