Denise Santomauro

Denise Santomauro is a writer, performer, and teaching artist. She has contributed content to several blogs, been published in the Dear Sister anthology, developed plays and scenes for young people through her work with theatre programs, and written middle grade and young adult novels. In addition to acting in plays, she has been seen on stage in live lit shows around Chicago telling embarrassing stories from her life, including one about spying on her neighbors and another about her terrible first kiss. As an instructor and teaching artist, she has taught prose, poetry, and playwriting classes, and works with young people exploring various art forms and helping them tell their stories. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Denise's pronouns: she/her/hers

Preferred age level & genre of expertise:


Middle grade and young adult fiction in all genres, with a specific interest in historical fiction, mystery, and contemporary. Personal essays, plays, and any work that is intended for a live reading/presentation 


Services offered:

Editorial Assessment

Line Editing
Developmental Editing
Substantive Editing
Author Coaching
Live Presentation Consulting



Favorite books:

Middle Grade Fiction

  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  • The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt


Young Adult Fiction

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

  • Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  • Scythe series by Neil Shusterman

  • Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

  • Akata Witch series by Nnedi Okorafor 

  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray


  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

  • Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge

  • Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby



Favorite TV Shows:

Arrested Development, Blackish, The Good Place, Parks and Rec, The Great British Baking Show, Project Runway, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, West Wing, Slings and Arrows, Friends




"Denise is a great teacher and clearly knows a lot about YA, both from writing it and reading it. I had a wonderful time working with her and feel ready to tackle my WIP."

-Madeline Reynolds, author of Illusions

"Denise's feedback is always incredibly thoughtful and incisive and delivered gently. During the writing of my memoir, I asked her to review a section written in a YA voice - a voice I wasn't used to writing in - and she provided me with great insight and clarity that allowed me to move the work forward. She is a careful reader and listener, a beautiful writer, and a lovely person with whom to share several hours over a few manuscripts." --Ellen Blum Barish, writer and teacher


"Ever had one of those stories you've looked at a thousand times and rewritten a hundred ways? Ever decided that your narrative is so far down the rabbit hole there is no hope? I'm here to tell you there is hope and comes to you as Denise Santomauro. She can see the story's thread through the royal tangled mess you've made of it. Denise has clear vision, a love of language, and spot on critique. She'll get you untangled. She's wonderful!"

-J.A. Cameron


"Denise is as personable as she is professional, with impeccable language skills drawn from her diverse background as a student and an educator. I trust her warmth and wit would make her an asset to anyone looking for someone with a sharp and creative eye and a keen sense of quality."

-Eileen Dougharty, storyteller