This is not your school's summer reading list

Karen Lotz

Interview with Karen Lotz, Editor, Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen

Author-poet-photographer Nancy Clopp Wood was born in New Jersey on June 20, 1936 and passed away on March 12, 2013 in her beloved New Mexico. It’s an intimidating thing to introduce readers to an artist whose work and life seem so fearless, bold, and confident. She wrote twenty-five books and produced more 25,000 photographs of the southwest.

What strikes me most is that quick flash of heat-lightning in her eyes, her photographs, her stories. A brilliant instant of light in the dark that dares the curious and attentive reader or viewer to find the courage to ask: What do I really think? What do I really believe? What do I have a yearning to say?

Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen is just such a book. Through the strange and the familiar and most of all, through humor, Nancy Wood and illustrator, Timothy Basil Ering, retell a creation story that is adorable and endearing, challenging and comforting.

Nancy’s editor on Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen is also a brilliant and creative woman. We’re delighted to welcome to Girls of Summer, Karen Lotz, President and Publisher, Candlewick Press and Managing Director, Walker Group. – Gigi

Gigi Amateau: Do you remember your first thought when you read the Mr. and Mrs. God manuscript?
Karen Lotz: When Nancy delivered a manuscript, she always gave a strong verbal warm-up pitch first. So that’s what I remember – she told me that she wanted to ‘reclaim’ the creation story to tell the REAL story – that MRS. God ran the show!

GA: You also edited God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu, another favorite of mine. When I think about God in children’s literature, these fine books, The Calling by Cathryn Clinton and Eli The Good by Silas House, also come to mind. Why is it important to you to publish books such as Mr. and Mrs. God and these other titles?
KL: It’s so interesting that you have mentioned all these together; I really find that fascinating, and it makes me stop and think. I have to admit that, at least previously, I have never thought of them as a collective. Each one came to us in a completely different way, yet in every case, it was the author’s distinct conviction and voice that wooed us to publish. When I look for similarities among them, what strikes me rather than the theme of God is actually another common factor – I think that they are all political books! Even GOD’S DREAM, in a very simple way, is about the politics of reconciliation. However, I do agree that religion and politics often are close bedfellows!

GA: How did working with Nancy Wood influence who you are today?
KL: I got to know Nancy best while she was creating her extraordinary anthology THE SERPENT’S TONGUE, because I was privileged to spend some time working with her in her New Mexico studio. It was unforgettable. She was an absolutely fearless person who spoke her mind all the time, and she had a wealth of stories and an enormous and slightly wicked sense of humor. She could see the humor in everything, even death or colonialism or environmental degradation, and she used it to relate on a very human level to all kinds of things that she cared deeply about, rather like a zen master. She also was a very generous and caring person. She spoke to ravens (literally) but had it in for gophers (look out, gophers – picture Annie Oakley!).

GA: Could you complete this sentence: Strong girls_____
KL: write their stories down.

To read more about Nancy Wood’s work visit her website or this tribute at School Library Journal.

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