Emma joined the INCLUDAS team from June to August of 2022 as the Summer Blog Writing Intern. We are so excited to have her with us!
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up with a lot of siblings and a lot of cousins really close to me, and a lot of them younger than me. As a result, I grew up with a lot of patience, and I think it really served me in life away from them as I’ve gotten older. I was raised to give everyone a chance to be who they need to be…without yelling at them when they frustrate me.
I read a lot as a kid, thanks to the women in my family, a lot of whom are librarians. As I grew up, I was raised on the values of libraries. Getting that access to reading early, having the benefit of expanding your vocabulary and that type of education, you get all these different ideas of what other peoples’ lives might be like. It helps you become more empathetic as you get older.
What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?
To be honest, when I was younger, I didn’t think I would end up going to college, because I had terrible social anxiety. It’s still not great, but as a child, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do anything involving other people at all. By the time I was applying to colleges, it had gotten to be less-terrible. I am really happy I was able to grow enough to be able to cope, to interact with people better, and to get out into the world.
I would love to have the chance to work with a lot of different publishing houses, especially ones that have specific missions like INCLUDAS does. With INCLUDAS, I’m interested in seeing how a company functions with that specific mission: How do they deal with submissions? How do they do the editorial process? The design process? All of these questions may not have the same answers if it were a different company that doesn’t have the same mission.
Why are you interested in working in publishing?
Publishing was always something I was interested in. I liked the idea of getting to be one of the ones creating the books I was checking out from libraries. I loved the idea of creating something that so many people could enjoy but also in finding the stories that were being overlooked or that weren’t even being told at all.
I love the entertainment factor of books, obviously. And then there’s the fact that you get a sense of what other peoples’ lives could be like and what your life could be like, seeing what could be different. Working in publishing is a way of getting to be close to that, but also a way of finding stories that were not told when I was growing up reading or in what I’m reading today. Now when I’m reading, I’m looking for representation that often goes overlooked and what stories should be more relevant today.
Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?
I think it’s important to me in the sense that all kinds of diversity are, but I think why I am especially interested in disability diversity is because it wasn’t always necessarily the first thing I thought of. I think, just based on personal experience, I tend to think of racial or ethnic diversity or queer representation first. In the past couple of months, I’ve gotten really into researching what kind of disability representation was out there, especially in publishing, both in terms of the books being put out and the staff who’s doing it.
I’m more interested in seeing, especially since I’ve started working at INCLUDAS, more autistic characters. One of my cousins has high-functioning autism, and I’ve learned about his kind of autism growing up around him. That was one of many things I never saw represented in any kind of media, including books. I think, because disability is such a wide-ranging classification, there are a lot of people who have disabilities that you don’t immediately recognize and aren’t physically obvious. I think having a huge variety of stories that fit a huge variety of disabilities that people live with can potentially decrease the negative stigmas against disability as something that needs to be hidden.
What’s the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?
I’m most interested in continuing to read manuscripts. Especially since we just participated in the #PitchDis event, we’ve gotten a whole bunch of new ones, so getting to read those and seeing how that process works has been something I’ve been excited to do.
Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?
For those who want to break in, I think it’s important to be open to learning and open to working in different kinds of departments, because I really enjoy doing that. It’s also important to know where your strengths lie and do not lie. I have no design skills at all and am pretty terrible at Photoshop, so I know that’s not where I’ll be working. But who knows: maybe you’ll discover something you’re really good at.