In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Richard Blanco, Imani Perry, Robin DiAngelo, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, and Bettina Love—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it might be good to take a break to focus on some of the staff who work hard to find, shape, edit, produce, and promote those works. Our blog series “Beacon Behind the Books” introduces to you a member of our staff and gives you a behind-the-scenes look, department by department, at what goes on at our office. And not only our staff, but our interns, too!
This week, we introduce you to our publicity intern, Lillie Ahearn!
What drew you to publishing, Lillie? How did you find your way to Beacon?
It’s probably no surprise to hear that I, like much of the staff at Beacon, have always been a book nerd. My mom loves to embarrass me by recalling all the times she would check on me during childhood playdates, only to find me steadfastly ignoring my friends in favor of getting in one more chapter. It wasn’t until I landed a job at a local indie bookstore when I was seventeen that I became interested in the work that goes into transforming a person’s idea into a book on a shelf (shout-out to An Unlikely Story for continuing to indulge my coffee and book addictions after all these years!). My first experience with the publishing industry was an internship in the sales department at Candlewick Press for a semester, and I enjoyed their small size and focus on children’s literature. I poked around online looking for a similar internship this summer. Though I hadn’t considered working with a nonfiction publisher, Beacon’s commitment to truth and equality really stood out to me. The work they do here is so important, now more than ever, and I’m lucky to be a part of it!
How much of what you learned in college have you found vital to your work?
I’m pursing a double major in Spanish Literature and Classical Studies, so literature is kind of my jam. Working with an ancient Greek drama and a contemporary nonfiction book might sound like two very different tasks, but they require a similar attention to detail and ability to process large amounts of text efficiently. I also write a lot of papers, so my command of language has improved a lot since entering college—an invaluable skill in a writing-heavy position.
This isn’t specific to publishing, but organization and time management are important in any workplace. I used to be the kind of person that could only be productive with a deadline looming over me, but one instance of waking up on a Saturday morning with two papers, a presentation, and a hand-coded replica of the game 2048 all due on Monday was enough to change my ways. I learned the hard way that taking a few minutes to plan things out never hurts.
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
I think if I had any numerical aptitude at all, I would definitely have a career in planetary science. I can’t help but be enticed by the countless discoveries waiting to be made in the vast expanse of our universe. Unfortunately, my dismal performance in physics and calculus in high school was enough to put that career path out of my mind, so now I mostly stick to reading articles from Science magazine and the occasional visit to a planetarium.
What are you reading right now?
I’m often juggling a few different reads, since I can never commit to just one genre at a time. Right now, I’m halfway through volume two of Alice Oseman’s adorable graphic novel Heartstopper. It takes me back to my first middle-school crush in the best way. I also started Jonathan Harris’ The Lost World of Byzantium a few days ago. I took a class on Byzantine history last fall with an amazing professor and have been itching to read more about the Byzantines ever since. Lastly, I’m currently on my second read of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, since I can’t resist her gorgeous prose.
Hobbies outside of work?
I’m on the fencing team at my university, so despite the treadmill being my mortal enemy, I spend a fair amount of time practicing or working out. Aside from that, I’m a huge video game fan and I occasionally try my hand at cooking. Whether or not I’m successful is neither here nor there.