Leigh Hope Wood
has written more than fifty books for children, developed hundreds more, and managed a children's publishing house in NYC. She has worked full time and in a freelance capacity for a number of publishers, including Chelsea House, Kidsbooks, Inc., Softplay, Inc., HarperCollins, Stonesong Press, Bookworks, and Disney.
As a child growing up with very few children's books, I never dreamed I would work in publishing. What was publishing? I was an outdoor adventurer who needed only two things: Me (Tarzan) and my imagination (Cheetah).
When I finally learned to read in second grade, my father took me to the public library and signed me up. I consumed fairy tales, nature books, and biographies. By fourth grade, I had discovered poetry, science fiction, and serious literary fiction (my sister's college books), and began writing stories of my own for fun. Still, I chose to read and write only after the front door was chained for the night.
I thought I would do something heroic and helpful in a strange land, grow up to be the next Albert Schweitzer. In college I studied biology and English, and for a few years, after earning my degree from Emory University, I worked as a research assistant in a lab at the medical school. During that time, I considered my future career: Would it be in science or the humanities? Did I want to work with rats or people? I moved to New York City, thinking, I suppose, that I might somehow do both.
While earning an MA in American Cultural Studies from New York University, I landed my first job in children's publishing, at Chelsea House, where I edited young-adult nonfiction books for the library market. There I discovered a natural ability to manage the production process, and the joy of pulling a book together.
At Kidsbooks, Inc., a publisher of mass-market books sold primarily to Scholastic book fairs and clubs, I enjoyed a more creative role. Starting out as a part-time freelance editor, I eventually advanced to the full-time position of editorial director, working closely with the publisher to develop the booklist each year and create new book series. I also helped build the editorial and design departments, managed construction of the company's first website, and played a vital creative role in developing a cloth-book format.
Currently a full-time freelance writer, editor, and book consultant, I'm interested in furthering children's literacy. I'm committed to making books not only educational but fun, adventurous, and fresh, and I feel excited about the digital agethat books can travel in yet another dimension. Kids will always want to carry a "real" book with them, the way they want to carry a real doll or a real frog.