Friday, August 22, 2008


Managing more than ten books at different stages of development at once is difficult. But we were lucky enough to carve some time out of Meghan Nolan's busy schedule. In this interview, Nolan shares her thoughts on writing children's books and the kind of manuscripts and characters that excite her. Authors interested in submitting manuscripts to Lobster Press can find more information on the Lobster web-site.

What motivated you to devote your time to literature for young readers?

When I was in high school, I remember my English teacher Mrs. Baletsa telling us she had studied English literature in university, and I thought “Wow, can you really do that?” Books had always been such a luxury to me and such a passion of mine, so once I learned that literature was something legitimate to study and devote a career to, I never looked back. I went on to complete a BA and MA in English literature and always hoped to work in publishing.

I love being a children’s book editor at Lobster Press – it’s a dream come true, as trite as that sounds. I fondly remember many books I read as a child and as a teen and I hope that our books leave the same lasting impressions on today’s young readers. I am a firm believer that good children’s books bring children and their families together and provide a sense of nostalgia long after the books are closed. If I can spend my days being a small part of that experience and help deliver strong contributions to the world of children’s lit, then wow – I feel very lucky.

How do you think writing for children is different from writing for adults?

Writing for both audiences presents distinct challenges. I’ve heard some people say that writing for kids must be really easy, but I definitely don’t think that’s the case – with children’s books, every word matters and it’s crucial that authors draw readers in on the very first page and then keep readers engaged throughout the whole book (picture books, middle-grade texts, nonfiction titles, and novels).

With all of the competition for kids’ attention these days, it’s so important that books engage, entertain, and inspire. To reach these ends, it’s key for the author to always keep the young protagonist’s perspective in mind. How does the character feel about what’s happening? What does the character think? And most importantly, what does the character want? I find that it’s sometimes easy to overlook such details of the child’s perspective – and of course, these details are what help keep readers engaged.

What kinds of characters appeal to you?

Quirky, unapologetic characters with an interesting perspective and an endearing quality that makes them unforgettable. When the story is over, I want to miss the character – I know it’s always a good sign when I’m thinking about the character long after I’ve finished reading a manuscript. I have to be honest, too, and say that I adore funny characters. If something a character thinks, says, or does makes me laugh out loud, I’m hooked.

What kinds of stories are you looking for?

At the moment, we are looking for original fiction for young adults, and nonfiction titles for all ages. Specifically, we are looking for yoga manuscripts (for ages 4-8), cookbook manuscripts (ages 9-12), manuscripts related to the environment and green living (all ages), and hockey manuscripts (fiction and nonfiction, all ages). Please visit the Submissions page on our web site for all of the details.

What gets you excited about a manuscript?

I am apt to embrace a manuscript that surprises me or speaks to a universal truth in an unexpected way. I also get really excited about manuscripts that take risks and force me out of any kind of comfort zone. And of course, I also love a carefully constructed plot, complete with twists and turns. Nonfiction manuscripts filled with lots of little-known “gems” (as we like to call them) also spark my interest in a big way – I’d like to see more of these manuscripts.

Do you have any tips and suggestions for writers thinking about submitting their manuscript?

Know your audience, don’t rely on adjectives, write with strong intention, and over all, surprise, entertain, and inspire us.

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