Meet the Kid Collective: Associate Editor Olivia Swomley

Our children’s book group, or ‘Kid Collective’ as they’re known around here, has been making headlines with their bold, innovative projects for a while now. And while you likely recognize some of their mega-bestselling titles and series (Big Fat Notebooks, anyone?), you may not know the players that make the group so special.

We decided to change that.

Taking inspiration from the questions in Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women, here’s our interview with associate editor Olivia Swomley.

What did you want to be as a child?

A wild woman. I wanted to live in the woods with some horses and dogs and survive off the land. As I got older, I became more attached to creature comforts and decided I’d like to do something involving books instead. I still like reading stories about wild girls and women though, especially while drinking tea and sitting on my couch.

Name a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night?

As a kid, I slept with several stuffed animals, and I was convinced that one of them was out to get me. I wasn’t sure which one, but sometimes I stayed up late thinking about it. Nowadays, I stay up wondering if the world always had so much evil in it, or if I just wasn’t paying enough attention before. When it comes to many aspects of my life, I find that I’m constantly asking the question: am I doing enough?

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out?

Get the job you can get. It’s better to get a foot in the door and learn as quickly as you can. You may discover you like an aspect of publishing you didn’t know about—or you may realize that you need to make a change. Either way, you’ll gain valuable experience.

I didn’t get this advice, but one thing I would also tell people starting out is that the who matters more than the what. Seek out great people. Great people make great things.

What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

The people who share it with me. I’m also very into nesting and always have a new favorite decoration; right now it’s some fabric I have up on the walls that my sister brought back from Senegal.

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

If I get more time, everyone else is frozen for three hours, right? I’d probably spy on them. And I would also do more of the things I love: crafting, reading, writing, and thinking about my next meal. If I’m being honest, I would probably sleep more, too. I adore sleeping.

What tool, object or ritual could you not live without in your workday?

In the morning, I take at least ten minutes to sit by myself without any electronics or other distractions, so that I can think about my day and let my brain wake up.

What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?

Take a break. I find that creative projects can’t be forced, and when I get frustrated, I do something else for a while and come back with fresh eyes

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