Our rebooted “Beacon Behind the Books” series is on a roll! In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Colm Tóibín, Tanya Katerí Hernández, Robin D. G. Kelley, Eboo Patel, and Gayl Jones—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it would 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 introduces to you a staff member 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 month, we introduce you Aayushi Agarwal, our sales and marketing intern!
What drew you to publishing, Aayushi? How did you find your way to Beacon?
There is a picture of me as a child frowning over my book at whoever is behind the camera interrupting my read, and I think it is the perfect depiction of my relationship with books. I’ve always loved books, and nothing else made sense to me. If I couldn’t share stories with people, what else could I do?
I found Beacon through We Need Diverse Books’ Internship Grant Program when I was searching for internships earlier this year. Before this internship, I had focused on the editorial side of publishing but wanted to learn more about the industry as a whole and how I could fit into it. As I did some research, I realized I already owned some of their titles and felt like I was coming full circle when I was offered the position!
How much of what you learned in college have you found vital to your work?
Before I went to college, I found critical and analytical thinking very hard. My experience at school never really encouraged us to think beyond what we were told. I memorized my textbooks, got good grades, and that was it.
The real problem came when I had my first literature class at college. I was an English major but felt like a baby thrown into the deep end. I had no clue what I was doing. Themes and motifs were a foreign language. College really helped me understand how to think more deeply about stories: creative writing classes taught me how to give feedback, and literature classes taught me how to think beyond the words on the page. While I may not have learned as much in terms of facts and concrete information, I think the skills that I have been able to refine at college played a big role in my internship.
What helps you focus when you’re working?
Since I was in high school, listening to music has always helped me focus on my work. Be it Korean rock or Hindi ballads, music helps me keep the rest of my mind occupied as I try to be productive.
Favorite thing about Boston or your remote home base?
This is going to sound a bit silly, but I really love how walkable Boston is. My home and college are both fairly small, so you need a car if you want to go anywhere. As someone who doesn’t have a license, it can be hard to do things.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve been slowly making my way through Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’ve been very into classic literature these days, and this is definitely one I would recommend! I am a big fan of stories that explore gray areas of morality, so this read has been great for my brain.
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
I say this as someone with zero musical ability but being part of the music industry would be so cool, be it as a songwriter, a creative director, or even a concert staff member! I really adore music, and the thought of being involved behind the scenes of someone’s favorite song is fascinating to me. My other option would be a museum curator! I really love looking at art, and working at a museum would be a dream come true.
Favorite book ever?
I can’t talk about books without paying homage to the Percy Jackson series. They were the first books I ever fell in love with, and I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t read them. Other than that, I really adore Ocean Vuong’s writing. I have not gotten through one of his books without bursting into tears multiple times.
One of my most favorite albums is mono. by RM. It’s gotten me through some hard times, and I owe a lot to it. I would recommend you listen to it when it’s raining for the best experience, but either way, I hope it helps you the way it continues to help me.