Publishers' Preview: Middle-Grade: Five Questions for David Levithan

This interview originally appeared in the January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Middle-Grade, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Six days after The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother), Lucas is stunned to discover him in the attic. Where did he go? How did he get back?

1. Was there a possible door to Narnia/Elsewhere in your childhood home?

Alas, no. But I definitely remember there being monsters beneath the bed.

2. Would young you have believed Aidan?

The honest answer is that I would have been just as torn as Lucas.

3. What was your most unexpected challenge in writing for a middle-grade audience?

Because I edit so much middle-grade fiction, it wasn’t as hard to slip into a middle-grade headspace as it might otherwise have been. When I edit authors like Gordon Korman, Sarah Weeks, or Garth Nix, I have to try to see the story through the eyes of a middle-grade reader. So in this case, I had to use that lens on my own writing.

4. Is there advice you give as an editor that you always forget as a writer?

I am always quick to edit out unnecessary uses of the words just and really…because most uses are unnecessary uses. Then, lo and behold, I write a novel and those two words sprout up like linguistic weeds in so many of my sentences.

5. What book world would you most happily enter, even if it meant you might not be able to come back?

Right now, any novel set in late 2015.

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Photo: Jake Hamilton.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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