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Selene Castrovilla: Selene Castrovilla

Award-winning children's and teen author.


Selene Castrovilla


December 2013


Selene Castrovilla
Photo © Alan Pearlman.

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Selene Castrovilla is the award-winning author of two young adult novels and three picture books about the American Revolution.
Her latest book, Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, received a starred Booklist review, and it is a Booklist Top Ten Biography for Youth, 2013. It has been recommended by the International Reading Association as a book for learning American history, and it meets common core standards. It is also a Eureka! Nonfiction Honor Book 2013 (from The California Reading Association)  and is a School Librarian International Honor Book, 2013.

Upon Secrecy was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, 2010. 

By the Sword was an International Reading Association Notable Book, 2007.

Ms. Castrovilla holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Read more about Ms.Castrovilla and her work at


What are you reading?  What's on your nightstand?

Re-reading As I Lay Dying. Also reading Dr.Bird's Advice for Sad Poets & Coraline (the book & the graphic novel.) I keep Bird by Bird, my favorite book about writing & life, on my nightstand - along with a purple book of Shakespeare quotes (I love purple & Shakespeare.)

Where do you go to get inspired?

The number one place is my deck on the water. I love watching the current. Especially wonderful are sunrise & sunset, which mimic our lives - always beautiful, ever-changing, made of fleeting moments we must experience and let go.

That said, I find inspiration everywhere. In strangers' conversations, in children's play, in animals' tranquility. 
In a NYC crowd, in my car alone. We don't need to seek inspiration, we just have to embrace it.

What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?

  1. I'm capable of home repairs/improvements.
  2. A fresh coat of paint makes all the difference.
  3. There is great satisfaction in yanking weeds out by their roots.
  4. The simpler, the better. 
  5. Clouds sometimes form straight lines. And they can even curve, like a rainbow.

Where do you write?

If possible, outside on my deck - on the water. Or in my office, where there's a view of the water. But anywhere, really - I bring my laptop on the train for 45 minutes of writing each way. I also print pages of my works in progress so I can revise if I'm waiting for an appointment or I'm on the subway...etc.

What/who makes you laugh? Why?

The Howard Stern Show. Because it magnifies the absurdity of life, and you never know what's coming next. 

Favorite fictional character ever?

Holden Caulfield

What are you working on?

The sequel to my novel Melt, called Signs of Life. Also a screenplay adaptation of novel and another picture book about George Washington's humanity.


On Revolutionary Friends:

"This oversize, handsome package will introduce a little-known aspect of the Revolutionary War history through pithy words and often dramatic pictures. It respects its audience as well as the historically significant friendship it portrays."
—Booklist, ***Starred Review***

On The Girl Next Door:

"Reminiscent of Lurlene McDaniel's novels, this look at first love is at once heartrending and healing."

On By the Sword:

"...this is an excellent introduction to the use of primary-source material to create a plausible historical narrative that also adds a human face. A time line of Tallmadge's life, a list of places to visit, research notes, and an excellent print bibliography are included."
—School Library Journal

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