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When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I loved to read when I was young. I always had a book in my hand. I had an aunt who was a kindergarten teacher and she gave me a variety of books. I remember reading Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and Judy Blume’s Blubber. I particularly loved books with adventurous kids and animals too.
What was your favorite story?
I never had just one favorite story! The lovely thing about books is how many different kinds of adventures they can take us on. I like stories with witches and monsters, and quiet stories set in nature. I like stories about nerds and about misfits and about rebels.
How do you get your ideas?
I’m a curious person, so I read a lot, and listen to others, and observe the world around me. There’s so much beauty and wonder, I’ve always been able to come up with interesting ideas and characters. Sometimes, fictional characters, like Marisol McDonald and Lola Levine, are drawn from my own family and life, and at other times, they come from a question asked by a child. For example, the character of Chavela Chavez from Chavela and the Magic Bubble was inspired by a question my daughter Isabella asked me: “Where does bubble gum come from?” With my new Sarai series, I was inspired by Sarai Gonzalez herself! She’s a bold, caring, creative girl who wants to change the world and leave it a better place!
Why do you think multi-cultural (including bilingual) books are important?
Multicultural books are important because they reflect our world and our reality. I love bilingual books because I think it’s neat to see two beautiful languages side by side on the page. I also think being bilingual, or trilingual, is something to be celebrated! The more languages we know the more people we can connect to, and life is all about relationships and friendship.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Revise. Revise. Revise. And don’t give up! Keep writing and believe in yourself, even if nobody else does! Write the stories you want to read.
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
It’s always a lovely gift to hear from my readers! I like knowing that I’ve made them laugh or think or that I’ve given them the enjoyable experience of reading a good story.
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
My Lola Levine series is inspired by my family, so it’s certainly a place I enjoy being in—if only in my mind when I write. My children are grown up and at college, so it’s fun to remember the times when we were all at home together. But I supposed if I could portal into a book, I might choose one where there’s magic, like Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, because who wouldn’t like to be magical?