Author Spotlight: Megan Litwin
Dec. 23, 2022
We are excited to feature author Megan Litwin and her debut picture book, TWINKLE TWINKLE, WINTER NIGHT, illustrated by Nneka Myers (Clarion Books 2022). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I’m a lifelong book lover and always knew that working with books in some form or fashion was in the cards for me. I went to school to study education, knowing that helping kids learn to read and to love books would be meaningful work. During my training, I found myself especially drawn to picture books, and loved the work of integrating as many as possible into my lessons.
After graduating, I stumbled upon a graduate program specializing in Children’s Literature at Simmons University in Boston. I checked out a class, and was hooked! It was the most amazing feeling to find people who took children’s books as seriously as I did. Two years later, I graduated and began a decade of work in the classroom. After having my own two children, I stopped teaching full-time, and did some part-time work in the school library and as a literacy interventionist. But all along the way, I was writing my own stories. Studying the best stories. And thinking that making books for children was going to be my next chapter!
Congrats on your debut picture book, Twinkle Twinkle, Winter Night! Tell us about this book and what inspired you.
Thank you! The spark for Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night came on a dark December drive. One of my then-toddler sons was captivated by all the light, from the glittering snow to the crisp moonlight to houses decked out for the holidays. He kept calling out things he noticed, repeating one phrase over and over…twinkle lights! It was like the whole world was suddenly full of magic. We started using that phrase all season long whenever we saw some kind of light – still do, in fact, many years later. I don’t think anyone ever outgrows that sense of wonder for this sparkly season! But on that night, I just knew I wanted to make a book that showcased all the different forms of light that make winter such a brilliantly beautiful time of year. Light that shines bright “…for all to see, and all to share.”
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Long AND sweet! I wrote the first draft after that December drive…eleven years ago. At the time I wasn’t fully committed to writing, and so although I pulled it out from time to time (usually during the winter months), it wasn’t until I made the conscious decision in 2016 to join SCBWI and commit to this publishing dream that I started making strides forward. Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night was the first manuscript I took to critique groups and conferences for feedback. It took 25+ drafts to find the just-right words and the just-right rhythm. The manuscript needed time to grow – and so did I. Meanwhile, I signed with my agent in 2018 and we went out on submission with a different manuscript that had many close calls, but ultimately too many passes. And then Twinkle (our second sub) danced its way to the desk of the amazing Kate O’Sullivan at Clarion/HarperCollins (then Houghton Mifflin) in 2020. Even though I’ve written and revised plenty of other manuscripts in all these years in between, this one has been in my heart the longest, and so it feels incredibly sweet that it’s my debut.
What other projects are you working on?
In February and June, I have two early readers coming out with Penguin Young Readers. Dirt and Bugsy: Bug Catchers and Dirt and Busy: Beetle Mania, both illustrated by Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn, feature two best buds who catch all kinds of bugs. This series is filled with friendship, fun, creative problem-solving, and super cool bugs! I also have another picture book just under contract, one on sub, and plenty more at all stages of the writing process. It’s a busy and exciting time!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
I’d tell myself, and all others, the universal truths of the industry. First, have patience! Publishing is all about setting your sights on the long-term.
Second, expect rejection, and learn to accept that rejection with grace. Rejection is simply feedback, and feedback is helpful for growth.
And third, have a sense of humor! Try blasting Tom Petty’s “The Waiting” in the car during long moments on submission. It’s so true about the waiting…it is the hardest part. But singing that mantra out loud with your whole heart, preferably with writing friends who understand, can really help. 🙂
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I have a bit of a dramatic flair that can sneak out! In fact, one of my professors at Stonehill College, who taught a course on Children’s Literature, pulled me aside one day after a dramatic reading of Charlotte’s Web (where I was Wilbur) and asked me to join the theater program. I didn’t end up doing so, but I like to think I’ve put that dramatic side to use during story times over the years…
Where can people find you online?
You can find me on Twitter: @Meg_Litwin and on IG: @meganlitwinbooks
You can also visit my website: www.meganlitwinbooks.com, and while there, feel free to sign up for my seasonal author newsletter called “Read-Write-Magic” for book news, event listings, giveaways, and fun tips on growing the readers in your world!
Megan Litwin is a children’s book author, a former classroom teacher, and a forever believer in book magic. She holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons University and lives in Massachusetts with her family.
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