Writing for Children's Magazines
An Ezine

   Interview with Rebecca O'Connor, Editor of The Caterpillar 



We are so pleased to have Rebecca O'Connor with us this month to share some information about The Caterpillar, a literary magazine for kids.

Welcome, Rebecca! Would you please begin by sharing a little about yourself with us and how The Caterpillar got its start?

My husband and I set up an international art & literature magazine called The Moth back in 2010, featuring poetry, fiction and art, and I was very keen to produce one for children, so in 2013 we set up The Caterpillar. We were lucky enough to feature such writers as Michael Morpurgo, Hilda Offen and Frank Cottrell Boyce in some of the first issues.

What do you love most about your editor job?

What I love most is discovering brilliant work from authors I haven't come across before - particularly writers whose work hasn't been published. It's thrilling to give people the opportunity to publish their work, as there's such a shortage of outlets for adults writing for children.

For those who might not be familiar with The Caterpillar, tell us a bit about it. What sets The Caterpillar apart as a magazine?

The Caterpillar features poetry, short stories and art for children aged 7-11. It is a print magazine which appears quarterly, and costs only €5 per issue. It is one of the few literary magazines for children, and it aims to publish the very best around, from all over the world.

Please tell us what you particularly look for in a submission, the sorts of things that get you excited.

I'm always on the look-out for stories and poems that have been well worked, for one thing, not just dashed off. And then after that it's that rare spark - impossible to pinpoint - that comes through in the wit, humour, humanity of the piece. Subject matter is also, of course, of interest, and it's great to see someone tackle something fresh and head-on. I'm looking for work that isn't condescending, that cares as much about its reader as the best fiction or poetry for adults cares about its reader.

What things turn you off to a submission? Any pet peeves?

It bothers me when it's obvious that little care has been taken over a poem or a story, as if children (or we!) will accept any old rubbish. The same old cliches tend to be rolled out for children. And it does get tiring sometimes reading about fairies and dragons and cats, but at the same time I don't want to rule out those subjects as they can sometimes produce gems!

Any tips for writers who might want to break into The Caterpillar? The guidelines on your website are very helpful. Are there any aspects of those you'd like to emphasize or elaborate on?

I think an obvious one is to read the magazine first, if you can, before submitting work. And make sure you don't send a first draft. Let it breathe for a bit.

Any other information about The Caterpillar you’d like to share with us?

Yes! The Caterpillar Poetry Prize - €1,000 plus publication in The Caterpillar - for a single unpublished poem by an adult for children. Details at www.thecaterpillarmagazine.com. The one for this year closed at the end of March.

[From Ev: Hopefully, they'll have another contest next year.]

Thank you so much, Rebecca for taking the time to share with us this helpful information and for being a part of creating such a wonderful magazine for kids.

For you writers who are now inspired to submit something to The Caterpillar, the guidelines are here. The Caterpillar is published in Ireland, but is open to submissions from all over the world.

Editor note: Initially, I incorrectly said this was a paying market. It is not.

Writing for Children's Magazines, May 2017


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