Coffee and Conversation with Laura Whitaker

Friday is winding down and we have only one week left until our conference.  We’ve already had so many of our wonderful speakers stop by the Cyber Cafe and today we are fortunate to have yet another. Laura Whitaker, Associate Editor for Bloomsbury Children’s Books, is here today to visit with us. She will be conducting the breakout session “Dating 101: What makes YOU desirable to an Editor.”

Laura worked on upcoming literary thrillers Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst and Vengeance by Megan Miranda and picture books Penguin and Pinecone and Found, both written and illustrated by Salina Yoon. She is particularly interested in innovative, soul-searing literary fiction; edgy, wrenching and unforgettable coming-of-age novels handling sensitive topics and issues; and quirky, funny and honest picture books that present first experiences in an unexpected light. 

Welcome, Laura! First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage? 

Oh! Excellent question! During the summer, I love mocha frappuccinos. But during the Fall/Winter, I love peppermint hot chocolate. Really, I love peppermint anything.



Oooh, I love peppermint hot chocolate! And your favorite snack? 

My favorite snack is Goldfish. In fact, I’ve been known to eat an entire bag in one sitting—I find them that addictive.


What was your favorite book as a child?

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle.


You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it? (Key word: Frivolous!)

I would immediately dance around my apartment to the tune of James Brown’s “I feel good”. Then, my roommate and I would use the money to go out to dinner and grab drinks.

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?  

I would be a news anchor. Oh man, did I want to be a news anchor. My senior class photo is total Washington, D.C. news anchor chic.

For one day, time travel is a reality and you can visit any famous deceased author you want.  Who do you pick? I

I feel like this is so clichéd, but I would love to visit Shakespeare—and find out who he was . . . and whether he really wrote all of his fabulous works (there seem to be so many theories out there!). I find it fascinating that he incorporated specific lines and bits of humor in his plays that he knew would appeal to the groundlings—he was an author to the masses!

It’s not clichéd at all! Shakespeare was a genius! 

If you could sum up your best advice for new writers or illustrators in only four words, what would it be?

“Create from the heart.” It doesn’t matter how on trend or innovative something might be—if it’s apparent that you, the author/illustrator, don’t have an authentic personal connection to the material, then neither will your readers and editor.

That is stellar advice that every writer needs to hear…and more than once. Thanks so much for stopping by, Laura. We’re looking forward to hearing more from you next week!

Have a delightful weekend everyone!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Interviews: Agents & Editors. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Laura Whitaker

  1. Pingback: 2014 SCBWI Austin Conference | Shelley Ann Jackson

    • Susan Mannix says:

      Thanks for the pingback, Shelley! I knew you all would love her! Her professional advice and generous spirit made Laura a big hit at our conference. She’s fantastic!

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