#85 Cecil Castellucci
Cecil Castellucci won't cosplay with your heart.
Cecil Castellucci has been writing for young people for over fifteen years, has published a stack of books and writes an ongoing comic book through an imprint with Marvel. She knows the world of YA and gave me the lowdown on that world in this incredible conversation.
We talk about her latest book, Don't Cosplay With My Heart, which I loved and read in a single sitting. I expect you will, too. We dive into tons of hot-button topics in this episode: capturing the teen experience, why people are suddenly being accused of being "fake geeks" now that geekdom is cool, and the issue that's got a lot of people talking: sensitivity readers and what this means for writers.
If you've thought about writing for young people, or are working on a story for that audience, this is essential listening. And even if this isn't your usual genre to read, you may find yourself diving in after listening. This is such a fun audience to write for, and one worth spending time with. Bonus... you'll learn who the main character of Cecil's book is named after toward the end of the episode, something I guessed while I was reading and had to confirm. Happy listening!
Discussed in Episode 85 with Cecil Castellucci
Revisiting nerd culture with the main character an unabashed nerd.
The narrative of the nerd as a sad guy in his parents’ basement was wrong then and it's wrong now.
“There’s this feeling that they have that their spaces are being invaded. But they’re not being invaded. It’s enhanced.” On the broadening of the geek fanbase.
“They’re stupid and I am a real geek.” On accepting your place in geek culture.
“The only thing you need to be a fan of anything... is enthusiasm.” On being enough of a fan.
“There’s always something to be discovered about the stuff that you love.” On the depths of fandom.
“It gave me the bravery to bring out this other part of me.” On being a young cosplayer.
Eden, main character in book, uses cosplay as a way of dealing with a tough time in her life.
Made up her own superhero team within the world of the novel, to avoid associations with existing superhero IPs.
“How do you make a reader like a fandom that doesn’t exist?” On the challenge of building investment in a fictional IP.
“Sensitivity readers” in YA publishing and doing research to get characters and experiences as close to accurate as you can.
“I’m going to the source and asking.” On caring about the authenticity of your story.
“I don’t think it takes anything away from your book by getting it right.” On proper research and having early readers with experiences beyond your own.
“No matter what you do when you write a book, someone’s mad.” On not worrying about whether your book will be perfect.
“Most people who write for young people still get asked the question, ‘When are you going to write a real book?’” On being a YA author.
“If you’re going to write outside of your lane, do it right.” On doing the research and listening to voices outside of your own.
“The more people you invite to the table, the better your feast is going to be.” On opening up publishing to more & different voices.
“Your job as an artist is to go and experience things.” On fueling your creative output.
When she started writing YA - books and comics - it didn’t have a shelf to itself. Now, thanks to all the series that have been turned into movies - it’s blown up and is much bigger and harder to get into.
Don’t Cosplay is a return, of sorts, to the themes of the book that launched her career 15 years ago.
Author photo: Eric Charles