Raquel Matos can be found online at Quelle Books Daily and on twitter. She is involved in the publishing industry starting as a bookseller in 1998 and has been with Candlewick Press in various roles since 2004. She holds both a BA and a MA. She has a great love an passion for books, especially promoting exceptional YA books.
1. If you were not working in publishing what do you think you would be doing?
I would be a film historian or a nutritionist. I have a passion for classic films and a passion for cooking and eating healthy. I would be happy doing either job.
2. How did you go about pursuing a career in the publishing industry?
I worked at a Barnes & Noble for 3 years and loved it. It was a great excuse to be around books and people who loved them. I switched majors in college from Biology to English and at Northeastern University I took a class in publishing and interned at Northeastern University Press. At that point I knew that book publishing was for me. As soon as I finished college, I applied to my first choice publisher Candlewick Press and got hired a couple weeks later. I was very very lucky!
3. What is your favorite part about working in publishing?
Getting people excited about books. That's really the best part. It's wonderful to be a champion for books and to talk shop with other folks. I love sharing my enthusiasm with other people!
4. You achieved a MA in Writing, Literature and Publishing, do you have aspirations of publishing a book of your own? If yes is there one or more in the works?
I would love to write a non-fiction book some day but I don't have any aspirations for being a published novelist or something like that. I don't have any books in the works but I do write regularly. I write 3 blogs, a food column and a restaurant review column for an online newspaper.
5. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are any of the characters you read real to you in that way?
Some characters from classic literature have stuck with me over the years. Judy Fawley from Jude the Obscure reminds me to pursue my dreams no matter what the cost. Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice reminds me to stick up for myself and to not be afraid to tell people what I really think. Isabel Archer of Portrait of a Lady reminds me not to let others manipulate me and that I'm the only artist that gets to paint the canvass of my life. And so on and so forth.
6. You have a great passion for books and literature in general. To what do you attribute this?
I guess it's my unsatiable curiousity. Something I get from my Dad. I have to know everything and I have to understand everything. And the best way to learn about the world and understand it is through reading books.
7. Were you an avid reader in your youth? Who or what spurred your love of reading?
My situation shouldn't warrant a love for reading English. I didn't speak English fluently until I was 5 years old. But my mom taught me to read in Spanish & Portuguese at a very young age and she always encouraged anything I had an interest in. I loved animals so I read as many books about them as I could. In High School, books like Johnny Got His Gun and Jude the Obscure transformed my love of reading fiction. I'm first generation American, trilingual, from a lower-middle class immigrant family, a minority and I'm a slow reader. All the stereotypes say I shouldn't love to read. But alas I do!
8. What advice would you give to teens today, to other readers, what gems of knowledge have you gleaned in life that you would pass on?
I would tell teens to read what they want on their own. I know a lot of teens dislike reading because they are forced to read certain books in school. I remember as a Junior in High School, I was allowed to chose 3 books of my liking to read for an English class. It was wonderful to be able to read what I wanted and it developed a hunger for more books. Read about whatever interests you and not what others think you should read.
9. If you could pick any one book to be made into a movie what would it be? Who would you like to see star in it?
A lot of my favorite books have already been adapted to screen. There is one book I read for work recently which I think would be wonderful on screen. One is The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin. I think it would work really well as a movie because of all the magical elements in the story. Not sure who I would want to star in it though!
10. If you could live in any alternate world from a book, which one would you live in and why?
Perhaps Regency England in the style of Jane Austen books like Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion.
11. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?
To pursue your dreams and to be happy. I think that knowledge gives us the power to shape our lives into what we want. The more knowledge and experience you acquire the more doors open to you in life.
12. Do you read eBooks? If so do you use a specific reader? What percentage of books that you read are in electronic format?
Yes! To conserve paper, we read all our manuscripts on company Kindles. I don't have my own Kindle but I would love to get one. I love the look of the eInk and the ePaper. Plus it's so satisfying to press the "Next Page" button and to see the percentage read at the bottom of the screen. I often read the work Kindle on the elliptical trainer at the gym. I can usually read from 100-150 pages with one trip to the gym which makes for great multitasking. Right now I only read manuscripts on there. I listen to other books on audio and I read books for pleasure in the traditional formats.
13. If you had to pick 10 books to recommend to someone who is not a big reader, what books would you pick?
1. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo 2. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin 3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 4. Watership Down by Richard Adams 5. Any classics in graphic novel form like The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds 6. Swim the Fly and Beat the Band by Don Calame (great for boys who are reluctant readers) 7. Give the Drummer Some by Mark Zero 8. Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly 9. Washington Square by Henry James 10. Any biography or non-fiction book on a person or topic that people like!
14. What were some of your favorite books and authors as a child?
I really loved anything about animals. So I was a big Jack London fan as a kid.
15. What were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?
I didn't read the way most teens read back then or even now. I gravitated towards books about isolation. I read a lot of Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Hardy and Henry James. Notable titles included The Dubliners by James Joyce, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
16. Who are some of your favorite authors or books now?
I enjoy reading books by many authors. A couple notables include Mark Zero, Jack Hayes, Elizabeth Strout, Gigi Amateau, Jo Knowles and Abby McDonald. I also love Dominican writers like Julia Alvarez and Junot Diaz and reading Portuguese writers like Jose Saramago.
17. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?
I don't watch much TV but I do appreciate reality shows that help people such as Heavy on A&E or ones that show us a different type of life like 19 Kids and Counting or Sister Wives. I watch a lot of classic films. Anything from the 1920s to the 1960s. My favorite actors are Robert Mitchum and Norma Shearer and I love directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Elia Kazan.
18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?
1. Some sort of survival guide. 2. Reference book 3. King James version of the Bible 4. A Medical Guide 5. The complete works of Jane Austen 6. A Nutrition Guide 7. A coffee table book with pictures of Boston to remind me of home. 8. A copy of In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez 9. Baby I Don't Care, a very entertaining biography about Robert Mitchum 10. Beat the Band by Don Calame, for a good laugh!
19. What advice would you give to someone who aspires to work in the publishing industry?
Get lots of experience. Work at a bookstore. Intern for a publishing house. Work as an aide to an author. And go to school. Get your Bachelor's degree. If you can, get a Master's degree too! With education and experience you can get very far.
20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?
Get an agent!
Raquel thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. It has been a pleasure interacting with you for over a year now, an I always look forward to your recommendations.