Monday, February 28, 2011

Cecil Castellucci
In Conversation with Pen & Ink

According to the divine miss pixie woods, Cecil Castellucci is an author and artiste. She has written Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool, Beige, Rose Sees Red, the graphic novels The Plain Janes and Janes in Love and the picture book, Grandma’s Gloves.

Did Minx approach you for a graphic novel project?
Yes. DC Comics was launching the Minx line which they hoped would be a line for YA comics for girls. Shelly Bond, the editor who was launching the line, was looking for a YA author who might be interested in writing a graphic novel. They approached Rachel Cohn, who said no, but she passed Shelly my name since Boy Proof was about a girl who loves sci fi and comic books. As a matter of fact, Egg in Boy Proof reads a lot of Vertigo/DC comics, so it ended up being perfect. Shelly called me and asked if I would be interested and I said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

What quality or qualities do you attribute to your prolific artistic output, i.e. music, art, film, writing?
I like projects and I like to finish them and get them out there so that i can move onto the next one. I think basically that is it.

Is there a creative media that you want to explore, but haven’t?
Well, I always wanted to be some kind of visual artist, but I'm not. Can't draw. I always thought I would like to do conceptual art. And I just started a conceptual art project in January that I'll be doing for all of 2011. It’s called the Literary Diaspora ( ) Other than that, perhaps figure skating. But as it stands now, I'll likely never do that and if I did I would break my butt.

What is your daily work schedule like? Do you work on multi projects in different mediums or stick with one or two projects?
I work on multiple projects at a time. And for me, the medium- no matter what the project is- is always the same. Story telling. And the truth is projects are always at different stages and need different kinds of care and feeding. One will be a baby. One will be going out into the world. One will just need to be reminded it's pretty every once in a while.

The Punk playlist. I often hear editors/authors at conferences tell writers to avoid references of contemporary music. By the time the book is published, so the argument goes, the cultural meaning of the music will be lost on the YA reader. Was this ever a concern for you or the publisher? (This interviewer thought punk was a late 70’s, early 80’s phenomena? Also, this interviewer is much like Beige with non-existent contemporary musical tastes.)
I never had any issue, nor did my publisher, about the punk playlist in Beige. The book is a contemporary punk book. And the thing about punk is that punk is whatever you decide is punk. If you notice, in the book, Garth Skater gives Katy-Beige a mix CD. It's a punk primer. Just songs that get the blood moving and that many people agree is punk. The songs on that CD are what make up the chapter headings. To prove a point that punk is what you want it to be, when the book came out I asked people I knew to give me their top ten punk songs over at IS BEIGE PUNK? as you can see, the answers are very, very different. 

Reading your novels, this interviewer is reminded that teens struggle with self-expression. The arts appear to be a healthy outlet. Yet the arts are often the first to go in school budget cuts. What’s up with that?
Yeah. That is messed up. Let me tell you, if you cut art from schools you are suffocating good education. Education works when it’s a whole experience. Arts education helps enrich and enhance performance in all other subjects. It's already scientifically proven that music helps math. Ah! It's so annoying when people think that they can save money by cutting the arts! It will save money by keeping the arts in schools! Anyway, yes, I do believe with all of my heart that Art Saves. It saves the world. It saves us. It is what makes us human.
Pen & Ink would like to thank Cecil for this interview. We urge our faithful readers to run, don’t walk… to your local book purveyor, like Skylight Books, and buy anything by Ms. Castellucci.


  1. Thanks for the interview. These were good questions to get to know this author and artiste that I'd never heard of before.

  2. Michael,
    I trust you are rushing to your nearest independent bookstore and buying something by Ms. Castelluci.
    Punctuation Punk

  3. I am going to have to start looking at graphic novels. Thanks!

  4. I certainly agree about the importance of the Arts in public schools.

  5. Cecil, I didn't realize you were the Cecil I met during the Star Wars Line. I'm Jim Corbin's mom.
    I thought you looked familiar when I met you at Flintridge bookstore. Jim just called me and asked me why you were on Pen and Ink.

  6. "Cecil, I didn't realize you were the Cecil I met during the Star Wars Line."

    Holy Jedi, Batman!
    The Force really works.
    Episode 48

  7. Great interview!!!

  8. Very interesting to hear how your journey into graphic novels developed. And three cheers for arts in schools!

  9. You write for an audience that I'm only beginning to explore. It's exciting. Good luck with all of your projcts.
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
    Children's Author of Klutzy Kantor & Marta's Gargantuan Wings

  10. Dear Lisa,
    We're glad you enjoyed the interview. Cecil is endlessly fascinating.
    The Management


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