Author Spotlight: Cassandra Newbould
May 14, 2021
We are pleased to feature author Cassandra Newbould and her debut YA anthology EVERY BODY SHINES: SIXTEEN STORIES ABOUT LIVING FABULOUSLY FAT (Bloomsbury, June 8, 2021).
|Illustration © Thaddeus Coates; design by John Candell
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write/edit for teens.
I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 living in the Pac NW. I suppose I've always been a storyteller, which doesn't surprise me since it runs in the family. My dad has this magical ability to capture an entire room for hours with his stories and so I had a great role model to learn from. As my kids were growing up I created stories for them in the same way my dad did for my sister and me. Then I was in a horrific accident in 2010 and for the next couple of years I was pretty much housebound due to my injuries. It was during that time that my husband and kids encouraged me to start writing down the stories that I was making up. So I did. In a way, it's been a lifesaver for me. Especially during my worst pain flares which still happen more often than I'd like. When I can't get outside and move my body the way I'd like, my characters do it for me. I've always gravitated towards writing MG and YA. Now that my kids are older, I have really appreciated being able to talk with them about what's going on in their lives and the current issues and joys teens experience today, and incorporate that into my writing. I think I got serious about writing in 2014. That's when I knew I wanted to try to share my imagination with the world, and that's when I started my journey to become a published author.
Congrats on your forthcoming YA anthology, Every Body Shines! Please tell us about this and what inspired you.
Thank you! Every Body Shines is a YA intersectional feminist anthology celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance. 16 stories written by 16 fat authors featuring fat MCs in a variety of genres and situations where they get to shine. I've spent my entire life in a body that was constantly changing, but for the majority of that time, I've been fat. And for a long time I always felt like that was a bad thing because the world was constantly telling me it was. When I was a teen there weren't many books featuring bodies that looked like mine. Especially ones that showed those people getting their heart's desire. Luckily, that is changing and I am so grateful and thankful that our collection gets to be a part of that change. Diverse intersectional stories like the ones in EBS help open the door to self confidence, self acceptance, and comfortable body neutrality.
All too often, life tells us we have to change our size to fit society's narrative before we can get what we want. In Every Body Shines, society's narrative changes to fit our MCs. I think the world should spend more time encouraging kids to enjoy their lives now and to not hold back.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
It was relatively short. I queried around January and found a home at New Leaf Literary. We went on sub in late July and had a book deal with Bloomsbury by October. The majority of the time in between querying and sub was spent finding the most amazing contributors to work with and putting together a beautiful proposal alongside my own champion, my agent Jordan Hamessley.
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on a MG fantasy, a YA novel in verse, and a secret project with a few awesome people.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to edit or create an anthology?
Expect the unexpected, don't be overwhelmed by the paperwork, and enjoy the ride!
What is something most people don't know about you?
I am really, really good at poker.
Where can people find you online?
You can find me on Twitter at @CassNwrites and for my podcast Fat Like Me, a show that celebrates body diversity in kidlit @FatLikeMePod and I'm on IG at @cass_catalano_newbould
Cassandra Newbould is the creator and host of the Fat Like Me podcast and community. Fat Like Me is a show where Cass chats all things fat with authors, entertainers, and activists about life, the arts, and why we desperately need more body diversity in kidlit today. As a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction, Cassandra creates stories where kids of all sizes can see themselves featured as the main character and not just the funny fat friend.
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