The Red Sofa Chats – Martha Mihalick, of Greenwillow Books

Right now, I’m excitedly clapping my hands together and sporting a huge smile, as Martha Mihalick is the next guest on The Red Sofa Chats.  I’ve loved following her on Twitter, appreciate her insight and thoughts on publishing, and share similiar reading tastes with her.  Plus Martha is an editor who has made herself  very accessible to readers AND writers in the Twitterverse.  This is a huge deal, as I’m constantly reminding people that publishing is a team effort vs. a “me” or “I” mentality.

Martha is also adding a little spice to today’s chats, in that for the next two weeks.  We’ll be having a drawing for Rae Carson’s book, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS.  So make sure to leave  question or comment for Martha on here!  We’ll be choosing the winner on June 16th.  So enjoy!  And make sure to follow Martha on Twitter!

Bio:  Martha Mihalick is the associate editor at Greenwillow Books. In her nearly ten years at Greenwillow, she has worked with many acclaimed authors and artists, including Kevin Henkes, Lynne Rae Perkins, Megan Whalen Turner, Peter Sis, and Naomi Shihab Nye. She edits books spanning all age ranges, from picture books to edgy teen novels. Some recent books she has edited include Entwined by Heather Dixon, Nightspell by Leah Cypess, A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford, and the forthcoming The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. You can find her on the internet at and on twitter as @marthamihalick. Plus you can see what Greenwillow Books is up to at


1.       Why did you choose to become a children’s book editor?

Books have always meant a lot to me, and I think the books I read as a kid and a teenager have meant the most. I feel that I am who I am because of Matilda, A Wrinkle in Time, The Secret Garden, the Drina ballerina books, Narnia, Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books, and Robin McKinley’s Beauty, among many others. I wanted to be part of giving other children the books that will help them find themselves. And there’s absolutely nothing better to me than reading an author’s story and helping him or her to make it the strongest it can be.

2.       Are there any projects you wish you could have edited?

Oh, well, sure! I see deals on Publishers Lunch that make me feel pangs of “Oh, I wish I’d seen that!” And I admire—and love—so many of my friends’ and colleagues’ books. But I think that books and authors find the right editor for them. That said, I’d love to see more manuscripts that have the creepy, dreamy quality of Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls, or the adrenaline rush of The Hunger Games, or the humor of the Scott Pilgrim books.

3.       What are you reading right now (for personal reading, for fun)?

What’s this “personal reading” you speak of? Honestly, I’m mostly trying to get on top of my submissions right now. I haven’t finished a non-work book since my vacation at the beginning of February. But I’m slowly finding time to reread Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. And I’ve started two grown-up books, but have not gotten very far: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and Bonk by Mary Roach. My to-read piles are gradually overtaking my apartment.

4.       How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing children’s books?

I use twitter to talk to fellow editors, to agents, authors, librarians, booksellers, and sometimes even non-publishing friends (gasp!). It’s terrific for talking about books and making connections and generally being kind of a nerd and finding others who are, too. I don’t think it’s changed how we publish books, but it’s certainly helped me get to know people and to see the community that can form around books. The children’s book community is particularly genuine and supportive, so it’s a nice medium for everyone to share that enthusiasm.

5.       If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 yrs?

Jeeeez. I think (and hope!) that we will still be publishing good books and getting them into the hands of readers. The processes and even formats may change, but stories are always going to be important, and helping to make stories the best they can be and get them to readers are at the heart of publishing.

Thank you so much Martha! Questions, thoughts? Let us know what you think!



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  1. Monica-Marie Holtkamp on June 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Thank you for taking the time out of both of your busy schedules to do this! It was both illuminating & a pleasure to read!

    Now…this isn’t meant to INFLUENCE you unduly or anything, but it JUST so happens the day you draw for this book is my birthday! Honest to goodness….just sayin…..LOL

  2. jmartinlibrary on June 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Martha is a terrific tweeter, so count me in!

    (I recently read ENTWINED–the attention to detail & characterization just knocked me out. Wonderful book!)

    Thanks for the contest!

  3. Cecelia on June 3, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Glad to see another Robin McKinley devotee… I think my opinion of anyone goes up about 300% when I see that they have loved one of her novels. It’s a bit like being of ‘the race of Joseph,’ to use a L.M. Montgomery phrase.

    Lovely interview!

  4. Sue Ford on June 3, 2011 at 3:49 am

    I love what you said about Martha’s accessibility in the Twitterverse. So true. Thanks for the interview.

    Martha, your website shows places where you were speaking this spring. Any other speaking engagements this year?

  5. Chachic on June 3, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Oh yay, Martha! I already follow her on Twitter and I enjoyed reading this interview. She mentioned so many of my own favorites in her answer to the first question. 🙂 I think it’s sad though that Martha doesn’t have that much time for non-work books.

  6. Jess Tudor on June 3, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Love the traditional fantasy YA’s!! Entwined is a total recent favorite!

  7. Mickey @ imabookshark on June 3, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Nice interview. Thanks for the contest :o)

    Mickey @ imabookshark

  8. Jeannette on June 3, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Great interview! I think it just made me move Entwined up on my TBR pile. (I know…I should have done that when I saw that beautiful trailer…no excuses.) And now I’m so very excited to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

    I do have a (probably not-so-quick) question: How does one even go about diving into the world of novel editing? I never even gave this a thought, despite my love of books, but it seems like a very interesting profession.

  9. colleen rowan kosinski on June 3, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Love the title of Girl of Fire and Thorns!
    Thanks for the contest!

  10. Petra on June 3, 2011 at 4:14 am

    I’ve heard great things about Imaginary Girls and I’m one of the few that haven’t read the Hunger Games, but will soon. I’m also really looking forward to Entwined, Nightspell, The Girl of Fire and Thorns and A Touch Mortal.

    Thank you both for the interview and have a great weekend 🙂

  11. Rebekah Purdy on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 am

    OMG, I love Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley. Yeah, that was the first thing that popped out at me (LOL). I love Tamora’s Trickster series as well. And I have to say the first book I ever read of Robin’s was The Blue Sword. That got me hooked…

  12. dothutchison on June 3, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Wow, so many books I love both on your read-and-been-influenced-by-as-a-kid list and on the list of books you’ve worked on.

    What got you interested in editing?

  13. Larissa Hardesty on June 3, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Great interview! 🙂

  14. Llehn on June 3, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Llehn on June 3, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Andrea Thompson on June 3, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Thanks for a great interview. I love twitter, so I’ll def have to follow her on there. I agree, there should be more books like the Hunger Games.

  17. Michelle Witte on June 3, 2011 at 5:42 am

    First off, I NEED a copy of Girl of Fire and Thorns. People on Twitter keep taunting me with its awesomeness and I don’t think I can wait until fall. 😉

    Also, to anyone wondering, Martha is even cooler in person. If you have a chance to meet her at a conference or speaking engagement, I highly recommend it.

  18. mfantaliswrites on June 3, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I reread “Queen of Attolia” all the time and I adore Megan Whelan Turner. An editor have worked with gave it to me a copy of “Queen” as an example of how to work politics into a YA fantasy. I don’t think she meant to intimidate me with it, but she did: it’s brilliant, and something I aspire to. “A Wrinkle In Time,” “Beauty”… clearly, Martha is awesome! Thanks for taking the time!

  19. Sandy on June 3, 2011 at 6:18 am

    This was such a fun and informative interview. Thanks to the both of you for taking time to do this 🙂 I was wondering though: were there any other professions that Martha was considering before she decided to become an editor?

  20. Steph Burgis on June 3, 2011 at 6:19 am

    If the giveaway is open internationally, I’d love to enter! (I live in Wales.)

    And I just read a book edited by Martha which I LOVED, Leah Cypess’s NIGHTSPELL. So, so good!

  21. Martha Mihalick on June 3, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Jeannette, I followed a very traditional path into editing–English major (and tutor at the college writing center) and then attending the Denver Publishing Institute the summer after I graduated. Our Greenwillow publisher, Virginia Duncan, gives the children’s book lecture at DPI and she happened to mention that she was looking for an editorial assistant. And I have been here ever since! (Ten years in September!)

    Dot, well, that’s sort of like asking me what got me interested in breathing! I have always, always loved to read. And in college I realized–through taking a creative writing course and working in the writing center–that I much, much, MUCH prefer reading and talking to other people about their writing than trying to write myself. I so respect everyone who does the hard work of writing so that I can have the pleasure of reading.

    Michelle, you are too nice. I blush.

  22. Martha Mihalick on June 3, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Sandy, I missed yours while I was posting the last! The answer is yes, but never seriously. In high school, I thought I’d be an English major in college but also do pre-med and become a pediatrician. I realized that was a crazy idea during freshman orientation weekend when I went to the first meeting about being pre-med. And while in college I considered for a time trying to become a theatre dramaturg. But once I realized that children’s book editor was a job (the summer after sophomore year), I knew that’s what I was.

  23. Momo on June 3, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Wow, that is so true about twitter! Great way to spread the news about all things books! 🙂

  24. jpetroroy on June 3, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I love your wish-list of projects. I agree wholeheartedly. Are there any steps/things you wish you would have done along your career-path, speaking with the benefit of hindsight?

    The Girl of Fire and Thorns is such an amazing title!

  25. Lauren on June 3, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I grew up on the same books! You just can’t beat those fantasy classics. (I can still recite parts of The Secret Garden…I was obsessed)
    I definitely agree that there need to be more creepy-dreamy titles like IMAGINARY GIRLS! I love when books seem to be realistic but then shift into surrealism. <3

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway! =)

  26. Tasnim Sheikh on June 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

    i had no idea that she was on twitter but i’ll be sure to follow her now! thanks for the great giveaway!

    twitter – star_light91

    tasnim xx

  27. Erica on June 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I love the plot of the book. How did you come up with something so brilliant?

  28. Hafsah on June 17, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Entwined was really good. And the cover for The Girl of Fire and Thorns is sooo pretty!

    Thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  29. Tiff on June 17, 2011 at 3:20 am

    “I wanted to be part of giving other children the books that will help them find themselves.”
    YES. This is a large part of why I love being a librarian! 🙂

  30. Marlena Montagna on June 17, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Love reading all of Martha’s tweets and such!

    I wonder how Martha’s extensive network of friends (some of whom she’s literally known all her life) influence her work? *wink*

    • Martha Mihalick on June 17, 2011 at 5:26 am

      Wow, Marlena, nothing like a leading question. 🙂 I wouldn’t be where I am without my lifelong friends, OF COURSE.

      And thanks, everyone, for all the kind words about all of the books! I’m a lucky, lucky editor.

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