Castellucci talks music and books with students

Jose Herrera

Photo by Robert Tapia Cecil Catellucci came to Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) on Feb. 7, to speak to students about how her music has inspired so many of her book and gave the students advice and trying tips.

Punk rock music and a passion for writing; are the two main components to author Cecil Castellucci’s award-winning novels.

“Music gives me an anchor to get done what I want to get done,” Casstellucci said.

Castellucci visited Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) to share her experiences and knowledge with students on Feb. 7. She held a writing workshop during fourth period and lunch, as well as a presentation during fifth and sixth periods.

The students of DPMHS had the grand opportunity to interact with the quirky and multi-talented Castellucci, who was dressed in smiles and a leopard pattern jacket that had tiny cat-like ears.

Throughout the afternoon, Castellucci discussed the hero’s journey and certain qualities that both a hero and a villain share.  Toward the end of the day she introduced herself and her occupation in the Multi-Purpose Room to the aforementioned classes that were invited, as well as the enthusiastic individuals.

“I thought it was interesting that she came and spent time with us, students,” said freshman Alessandra Silva.

At the writing workshop, she talked about the seven elements that create a hero and villain, which include special skills, love, weakness, enemies, secret hideaways, quests and a posse or tribe they belong to.

She also discussed how every hero and villain holds qualities or a personality that readers might like or dislike about them.  The students then wrote their own stories and read them aloud.  Their stories ranged from a drug addicted man to a unique superhero with an unusual power.

Castellucci was really engaged with the group of students in the writing workshop.  She gave them feedback on their stories and encouraged them to keep writing, telling them that a writer incorporates anything and everything from life.

“I think it helps students expand their imagination, helps them write on the spot, build confidence and their ability as a writer,” English and Creative Writing teacher Whitmarsh said.

Later that day, students and teachers gathered in the MPR to listen to Castellucci spoke about her work and her influences, as well as her background.  Sandy Schukett, a retired Los Angeles Unified School District teacher librarian, kicked off the event by introducing Castellucci and giving a short biography of her.

“Castellucci writes well-written stories of real kids and knows how to get into the mind of teenagers, maybe because she hasn’t really grown up yet,” Shuckett said.

Castellucci started to talk about how she was an actress, a writer, an artist, a musician, a performer, blogger and a magazine author. However,  all those things combined resulted in her being an artist.  Castellucci has written a variety amount of books including “Beige,” “The Year of the Beasts,” (her most recent book) “Janes in Love” (her first graphic novel), “Boy Proof,” “Geektastic” and much more.

She’s a music lover, hence her former participation in an indie rock band, and music is a recurring motif in her books. For example, in her book “Janes in Love,” there is a part in which there’s a bottle with a note inside of it giving directions to the person who reads it to sing.  Also, in her other book, “Beige,” the protagonist’s life revolves around punk music.  Music inspires her and gets her in the mood to write.  She even creates a specific playlist for each of her books.

“Music is one of the unifying forces in the world,” Castellucci said. “I write for music.”

Contributing Writers Alexandra Avendaño and Diego Villegas contributed to this report.