Author website/social media:
@mskarlam on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram
- When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I liked to read in school and when my parents stuck a book in my hands because I was “SO bored,” but I didn’t choose to read very often on my own. I was more interested in playing! I played with my Star Wars action figures a lot at that age. My brother and I also liked to pretend we were running away from evil villains. I liked to write, though–mostly stories about aliens and other creatures. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to appreciate how reading let me live in my imagination a lot like playing and writing did.
2. What was your favorite story?
When I was very young, I loved a Little Golden Book called THE NEATOS AND THE LITTERBUGS. I used to beg my older sister to read it to me. When I was older, my favorite book was A WRINKLE IN TIME. The main character, Meg, is lonely and felt like a misfit, but she goes on an incredible adventure and starts to feel more comfortable with herself and others. I wanted that, too. I wanted a sense of belonging, and I wanted to travel the galaxy!
3. How do you get your ideas? Stories about kids with epilepsy are rare.
The idea for MEENA MEETS HER MATCH came from real life. My daughter, Amelia, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was nine years old. I wanted write about what it was like for her. I also wanted to show that kids are kids, no matter what, and that everybody goes through ups and downs.
Actually, I’d say that most of my story ideas come from real life. I’m inspired by people I know and conversations I hear and things that happen to me. They light a fire in my imagination, but the ideas also change a lot as I write about them. My daughter’s experience was the spark that made me want to write a book, but Meena became her own person, and her story turned into something new and different from my daughter’s story.
4.What author do you really like right now?
Oh, there are so many, but Anne Ursu and Jacqueline Woodson are two of my favorites.
5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
I don’t pay much attention to how well known an author is. I just know when a book draws me in and won’t let go. A couple of middle grade books that do that for me are BLUEFISH by Pat Schmatz and THE DESPERATE ADVENTURES OF ZENO AND ALYA by Jane Kelley. For nonfiction, I also love Patricia Sutton’s CAPSIZED!
6.What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Practice! Nobody sits down at a piano for the first time and plays a song. They just bang their hands on the keys and make noise. Learning to write is a lot like that. You get good at it by doing it. So try writing new things. Go back to older pieces you’ve written and see how you could improve them. Play with words. Tell stories. Your writing will just get better and better!
7.As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I’m starting to! It’s so fun to connect with people who are reading MEENA MEETS HER MATCH. Writing is funny, because I do it alone, but I also have an audience in mind. I don’t have any way of knowing who will be drawn to the story or what it might mean to them. I just have to put it out there and hope it finds its way to the people who need it. When someone does connect with what I wrote…it feels magical!
8.If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
Wow, that’s a great question! When I was younger, I would have said that I wanted to time travel or blast into outer space. Now when I read, I care more about traveling into the minds and hearts of characters I love. I don’t have a specific book in mind, but I want to know what life is like for other people. I want to feel what they feel and see things from their point of view. That’s the portal I’d pick.