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Class Notes Profiles

Love a story?

By Joni Moths Mueller

Molly O’Neill, Arts ’00, believes in the power of stories.

Her own is pretty powerful. The story arc moves from Marquette, where she studied teaching, through discovery of her passion for children’s books, to the mecca for book publishers New York.

She laughs when remembering visits to Harry W. Schwartz Bookstore in Milwaukee on the pretext of looking for good adult fiction. “I’d spend about 10 minutes in the adult section like a good English major should and then creep over to the kid’s section,” she says, where picture books and novels for teens and tweens beckoned.

Mentors on campus encouraged her secret passion. Barbara Elleman, then the distinguished scholar of children’s literature in the College of Education, offered O’Neill an independent study opportunity to learn how art and text tell a story. With Elleman’s guidance, and at the encouragement of her English professors, O’Neill landed an internship with a children’s book editor in Chicago. The experiences opened O’Neill’s eyes to an unconsidered career option.

She broke into publishing in New York by working on the marketing side. Now an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, one of the most respected houses in the business, O’Neill loves finding talented storytellers and bringing their imaginings to the printed page. “Whether I’m talking to people in the industry or strangers on the street, I’m part talent scout, part psychologist, part English teacher, part movie director and part advocator, evangelizing for my authors and artists and their books,” she says.


Comment by Mary Ann Duke at Jan 26 2012 04:02 pm
It's wonderful when one finds their soul-job.
Comment by Mike Jung at Jan 26 2012 05:07 pm
I'm not a Marquette alum, but Molly was a tremendous source of encouragement as I started my career as an author. Also, she's who I heard about the movie NEWSIES from.
Comment by Peggy J Kennedy at Jan 27 2012 10:13 am
Wow! She has the dream job. How wonderful!
Comment by Mike Wittig at Jan 27 2012 10:25 am
Are there guides on writing for young people? Perhaps I could put my life learnings to good use.
Comment by Maureen Shea at Jan 28 2012 12:15 pm
for Professor Elleman - I have been working on a book on rabbits. I've had house rabbits for about 25 years they all and have had different personalities. I've kept notes on some of their adventures and how I think they problem solve. I've been getting the stories together and have had the same professional photographer for all but the first. The first did, however, have one also. I received an MS in political science in 1973, and have always had a connection with animals. When I was in kindergarten,Ginger, a dog in the neighborhood, escorted me to school and back. A dolphin at DisneyWorld connected with me and wanted to do everything with me. I've been told I have great empathy with animals and small kids, so have had more animal friends than human ones. I would love to talk to you or hire you to help me. Please let me know - my phone is 630-985-9262. It is no problem for me to drive to Milwaukee. I really started to enjoy writing at Mt. Mary under Barbara Butler (I loved Chip her dog) Thanks.ssstamI anticipated
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