Publishers' Preview: Spring 2024: Five Questions for Pablo Cartaya

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2024 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Spring 2024, 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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Thrown a Curveball when an injury keeps her out of summer baseball, middle schooler Elena is…relieved, in this graphic novel by Pablo Cartaya, illustrated by Miguel Díaz Rivas.

1. Your idea of a perfect summer vacation day, back then?

When I was a kid, I spent the day on a pine needle–strewn beach with my abuelo, drinking mango smoothies and wading in Florida’s Biscayne Bay. My abuelo (an avid baseball fan who spent his honeymoon visiting all the baseball parks in the U.S.) pitched little coconuts to me, and I’d whack them into the water with a branch for a bat. That memory is forever etched in my mind as a perfect summer day.

2. Ever hit a home run?

I have indeed! I was twelve years old, at the plate, the pitcher threw a fastball, and I cracked the ball toward the first base line. It looked like it was going to be a foul ball, but the ball curved just inside the first base bag and flew over the fence. The ump cried out, “Home run!” I don’t know if we won or lost, but I remember the home run.

3. What’s the greatest difference between writing prose and graphic novels?

With a graphic novel you’re in a collaborative dance between the words you write to indicate what you hope an illustration visualizes, and what the illustrator brings to life with their own flourishes and sensibilities. I love that collaborative aspect and couldn’t have asked for a better dance partner for Curveball than Miguel Díaz Rivas.

4. How can we balance adults’ expectations of children and children’s own emerging independence?

I’m a father of three, so I often remind myself that while I’m there to serve as a guide, I can’t insert my expectations into my children’s own experiences. They’re individual human beings who have their own paths to take. I do this when I write for young people as well. I let my young characters speak (or learn to speak) for themselves.

5. Elena looks with incomprehension at her little brother’s role-playing games. What’s your default LARP character, and what does it say about you?

A Gandalf-type character. Maybe because I’m an old soul — or maybe because being able to cast beams of light and communicate with giant eagles is awesome.


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Photo: Zoe Milenkovic.


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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