When you were my age (10), did you like to read?
Great question! Not only did I LOVE to read, I still have many of my old paperbacks. (My mom saves everything!!) I loved both realistic fiction and fantasy. A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorites, but I was also really fascinated by Harriet the Spy and her misunderstood friend Beth Ellen. What I loved best about these stories is that I felt like I knew the characters so well—they became like friends.
What is a book that made an impact on you?
I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time, and that story having a big impact on me. The main character, Meg Murry, had thick glasses and braces and felt misunderstood—just like I did! It was the first time I really connected with a character. That feeling has stayed with me and continues to help me remember how powerful it is for kids to find themselves in stories.
Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
Stories are everywhere and every now and then—especially when I am hiking with my dog, Meadow—characters pop into my head. I’ve found that if I listen really hard to these characters, they will lead me to a good story!
What author or book have you read recently that impacted you?
I love to read biographies—especially about women who have done amazing things but never got recognized for their achievements. Recently, I discovered Marie Tharp who was the first person to scientifically map the world’s oceans. I read two books about her. One is a picture book called Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea, by Robert Burleigh. The other is Soundings, The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt. I loved Marie Tharp’s story so much that she became an important part of my most recent novel, A Galaxy of Sea Stars, which comes out in February 2020.
Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
I loved Jess Redman’s book, The Miraculous. I adore her writing and the way her stories make my heart feel. She has another book coming out next year called Quintessence that looks amazing too!!
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write every day and read, read, read! My seventh grade English teacher had us write in a journal every single day. At first I thought, this is too hard, I can’t do this every day. But when I got into the habit of writing every day, I realized how much I loved it. I could write about anything – my day, my family, my friends – no one was judging what I wrote about and that helped the words flow. It was also a way to get through challenges and helped me put things in perspective. I still have all of my journals and they are such a treasure. They are a window into 10-year-old Jeanne and help me remember how it was really hard to be a kid some days.
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes! I LOVE hearing from my readers. I’ve received some awesome emails and some beautiful art from kids who have read Ruby in the Sky. I love hearing how readers have connected with Ruby and Ahmad, that they’ve found meaning in the story, or simply that they thought it was good book.
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
A Wrinkle in Time again!!! (Best book of all time!) I love how Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who, teach Meg about tesseracts, which are a “wrinkle in time” that allows them to travel to other planets. I would love to tesser along with Meg and Calvin and Charles Wallace to Uriel, the two-dimension planet, as well as Ixchel to spend time with Aunt Beast. Even tessering to the dark planet of Camazotz where IT is holding Meg’s father prisoner would be a thrilling adventure!