Conversation & Coffee with Calista Brill

calistaToday we’re chatting with Calista Brill, Senior Editor at First Second Books.

A lifelong comics fan, Calista has edited graphic novels for First Second for over six years. Her areas of interest include nonfiction comics and children’s comics. At First Second, she has worked on New York Times bestselling titles such as FeynmanFairy Tale Comics, and Primates. Brill has previously been an editor at Disney Press, a freelance writer, and the world’s funnest nanny.

We’re very excited to have Calista presenting  “This Is the Golden Age of Graphic Novels” at the 2014 On the Road to Sparkling Literature fall conference!
An overview of the history of graphic novel publishing in the US and an in-depth look at what makes this moment so special, especially for people who want to make graphic novels for kids. In addition she’ll be discussing the publishing being done by First Second, and a sneak-peak into the life of a graphic novel editor.

Now onto our chat!


First off, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?

I’ve spent the past decade perfecting the most annoying coffee order: iced grande decaf sugar-free soy latte. It’s 100% ersatz.

I love it!  And your favorite snack to go with your “most annoying coffee order”?

Avocado mashed with diced radish with lots of salt and a bit of lemon juice. Alternately: Cheetos.

You had me at avocado… 

What was your favorite book as a child?


The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

And now, what’s your favorite book as an adult?


The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

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

One of those fancy square watermelons from Japan

That would make a lovely end table! 

So let’s say you get locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! What’s the first book you crack open?

I’ve been meaning to get around to the new Elizabeth Gilbert book since it came out – the one about moss.


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

Creating sound effects for movies. I wanted to be a foley artist.

Oh my gosh, that was on my list as well! We are kindred!

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

Jane Austen, no contest.

What’s your favorite motivational quote?

See below:

Happy now

Fantastic, I need to print that out!

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

Make stuff for fun, with no stakes attached. Make fanart. Write fanfic. Journal. Doodle. Get the work done for the sake of doing it. Nothing’s less productive than expecting that the thing you’re making is going to be perfect, or has to be.

Great advice!  Thank you for your time Calista – we look forward to seeing you in Sepember.

About Shelley Koon

Artist and author - visit me at my site listed below.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Interviews: Agents & Editors. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Conversation & Coffee with Calista Brill

  1. sue peters says:

    Hey! Graphic designers!! Calista is offering critiques @ our fall conference, and speaker and agent Ella Kennen has a strong interest in graphic novels too. Check out the conference at

  2. Pingback: Coffee & Conversation with Sarah Sullivan | As the Eraser Burns

  3. Pingback: Coffee & Conversation with Miranda Paul | As the Eraser Burns

  4. Pingback: Conference Interview Round Up | As the Eraser Burns

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