Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Melanie Conklin

Author website/social media:, @MLConklin on Twitter

1When you were my age (8), did you like to read?

When I was eight years old, I loved to read! I always took a book with me in the car, especially on the long drive from North Carolina to Buffalo, NY to visit my grandparents. That takes 12 hours! I would read several books going one way, then swap them with my cousin in Buffalo so I had new reads for the way back.

2 What was your favorite story?

My favorite were stories that had anything to do with horses—so, Black Beauty, and horse-racing mysteries, and veterinarian stories like James Herriot’s. I grew up riding horses, and I loved stories that showed how incredibly tender and loving horses can be, as well as passionate and fiery! I also liked a good cry, so stories like The Secret Garden and Charlotte’s Web were favorites, too, along with every one of the Babysitter’s Club stories.

3 How do you get your ideas? 

My best ideas come from paying attention to my life. There are moments that make you smile, or cry, or laugh, and those are the moments that feed into stories. The start of a story always comes from a What If? For Counting Thyme, that question was, what If your little brother or sister got sick? What if you had to move to New York City to help them? (I moved to New York City TWICE, so that’s an experience I knew a little bit about!)

4 Is it hard to write a book?

Books are not easy to write because they take a long time to complete, but writing CAN be easy. My best trick for making sure writing stays fun is really listening to my heart about what I WHEN I really want to write. It is no use beating yourself up for not writing when what you really need is to stop and eat lunch, or read someone else’s book, or go see a movie. Experiencing life and other people’s stories fills you up so that you have a lot to say when you do sit down to write.

5 Mom says your book is about a family where one kid has cancer. That sounds like a really hard topic. Was it hard to write this?

The story in Counting Thyme is about a girl named Thyme whose little brother, Val, has cancer. I wrote about this because the same thing happened to friends of mine many years ago, and the story really stuck in my heart. While cancer was a tough subject to research and to write about, I also felt driven to do a good job showing what it’s like for families to go through this experience.

6 What author do you really like right now?

Ooh, this is such a great question! I read a LOT, so I have many authors to recommend. One of my recent favorites has been Erin Entrada Kelly, who just won’t he Newbery medal! Her books have such great friendship stories, with lots of Filipino traditions that are fascinating to read about.

7 Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

I also love Debbi Michiko Florence’s JASMINE TOGUCHI books because Jasmine reminds me of myself as a kid. I’m a little obsessed with Celia Pérez’s THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK. The zines in this book are so cool! Elise Gravel is an author you should check out. Her books about OLGA are hilarious, and her illustrations are awesome!

8 What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

My advice for anyone who wants to be an author is to start a writing notebook. It can be whatever kind of notebook you want—I like smaller ones, with spiral binding so the pages flip all the way around. Let yourself write WHATEVER YOU WANT in your notebook. I like to keep several notebooks, one for random ideas and notes, and separate notebooks for each book I’m working on. A notebook gives your mind a place to play and collect ideas. Plus, you can doodle in them!

9 As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I love hearing from readers! Sometimes I get letters in the mail, and those are always so special because it takes work to mail a letter! I also love reading email messages and tweeting with readers. Reading was so special for me growing up that it’s a real privilege to have kids reading my book now. Plus, young readers share the best comments, because you are full of ideas.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Jarrett Lerner and @Jarrett_Lerner (Twitter)

I live in Medford, Massachusetts, just a few miles outside of Boston, with my wife, my daughter, and a cat. Besides writing, I love to read, run, cook, and eat. I’m extremely lucky to get to spend so much of my time traveling around (both virtually, via Skype and Google Hangouts, and physically) to classrooms all across the country and up in Canada. Connecting with young readers and creators has become one of the most important – not to mention fun! — parts of my life.


When you were my age, did you like to read?

I loved it. But I had a lot of other interests, too. I played a lot of baseball, and then became obsessed with skateboarding, and then got really into playing guitar. Throughout it all, though, I was always reading.

Early on in my life, thanks to my parents, my siblings, and a handful of wonderful teachers, I learned the value of books. I knew I could go to them for entertainment and escape, inspiration and insight, knowledge and comfort and countless other things besides. Because of that, I was always in the middle of reading something or other, and rarely went anywhere without a book in tow.

What was your favorite story?

I had lots of favorites, but if I had to single out one book from all of the many I loved, it’d be Louis Sachar’s There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom. There’s something about Sachar’s mix of humor and heart – and in that book especially – that really spoke to me as a kid, and still does. Every year or so, I sit down and reread Bradley Chalker’s story. Somehow, it gets better every time.

How do you get your ideas?

I don’t know where ideas come from – if I did, I’d be there right now, scooping up as many of them as I could! What I do know, however, is that my best ideas always come to me when I’m doing three things:

The first thing is Reading. The best way to get your brain looking for ideas of its own is to expose it to the ideas of others, and books are an amazing place to find other people’s ideas – usually it’s where they put their best ones.

The second thing is Exploring. By that, I don’t mean you have to go on a trip to a faraway land or have some sort of dangerous adventure. You can explore every second of every day, even if you’re just walking to school or eating dinner with your family, simply by being present and observant. Pay attention to how the world works, how people interact within it. Collect experiences. Hoard them. If something in particular interests or confuses or irks or excites you, write it down – make sure to remember it.

The third thing is Dreaming, and that’s when you let your ideas and your experiences dance to the unique tune of your own imagination. It’s when you sit around and just let your mind wander and wonder and ask “What if? What if? What if?” These questions – along with their answers, of course – are the building blocks of stories.

Do those three things – Read, Explore, and Dream – and soon enough you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with.

Is it hard to write a book?

Some parts of writing a book comes easy, and other parts are downright tough. But even the tough parts are, at the end of the day, beneficial, and often enjoyable. I love storytelling and the craft of writing. By challenging myself, by working through the harder parts of writing a book, I become a more skilled, versatile, and confident writer. That, to me, makes it all worthwhile.

What author do you really like right now?

There are way, way too many to name! But a few that I’ve been really excited about lately are Kat Shepherd, Saadia Faruqi, and Eric Bell. If you take a look at my goodreads page or, better yet, follow me on Twitter, you’ll find that I’m constantly talking about authors and books I like and am excited about. It’s pretty much all I do!

Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

One of my all-time favorite authors is a guy by the name of Daniel Pinkwater. He’s published tons of books, and is still publishing today. But a lot of kids don’t know of him. I think that’s a shame. He’s hilarious, and his books are so, so fun. Reading them makes my head feel fizzy, like my imagination just chugged a couple gallons of soda.

I found out about your books via Multicultural Children’s Book day. Why do you think Multicultural books are important for kids?


Our world is increasingly interconnected. More and more it’s true that, in addition to our local communities, we all belong to one big global community. As such, it’s essential to understand our community’s members — our neighbors, whether they’re living in the house next door or somewhere halfway around the world. Books that are written by individuals from cultures other than our own and/or that are based in cultures other than our own teach us about different ways of life, making us more sensitive to other ways of doing things both basic and complex, and also making us more thoughtful and constructively critical about the ways in which we do them. Perhaps even more important than highlighting our differences, however, multicultural books reveal our sameness. They speak to the humanity in all of us, no matter where we’re from or how we grew up or what we believe – they tug at that common thread that runs through all seven-some-odd billion of us here on Earth. Such stories are invaluable, for all of us – kids and adults, too.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read and read and read and write and write and write, then read some more and write some more and then do it all over again. But also make sure to share your stories with others, and find and befriend people who write the sorts of things you do, and reach out to authors to learn what they did in order to get their stories made into books.

Becoming a published author requires talent, certainly – but more than that, it requires a tremendous amount of hard work and persistence. You simply cannot give up, and cannot let a bad day, some negative feedback, or a rejection (or dozens and dozens of them) knock you down. Every success, big and small, is built upon a mountain (or at least a sizeable hill) of missteps, mistakes, and outright failures.

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I do, and it’s one of my most favorite things. I’ve kept every piece of mail a reader has ever sent to me, and I look through them often. I’ve got some of the drawings kids have made me hanging up in my study, and I keep the comic books I’ve been given by them on my bookshelves. I like getting such mail for a number of reasons. One is that, hearing from readers, I know I’ve succeeded — I’ve reached a kid, convinced them to pick up my book and read it from front to back. I’ve made them smile, maybe even laugh, and made them wonder and think. And that is exactly why I do what I do every day!

Another reason I love receiving mail from readers: it inspires me enormously. I am constantly blown away by kids. Their thoughtfulness, their wisdom, their artistic talent, their brilliant ideas, the bigness and boldness of their imaginations — it has all, on countless occasions, literally made my jaw drop. That gets me excited. It gets my own imagination fired up. It leaves me far more energized than I would be otherwise the next time I sit down to write.

One last reason: getting mail from readers, hearing what they like and don’t like, what they got out of my book — all of that makes me a better writer. It’s the best and most important feedback I could get. I learn what I’m doing right and what I might be able to do better. As I said before, I love the craft of writing, and am constantly striving to become better at it. One of the best ways to do that is to pay attention to what your readers have to say. For all of these reasons, I am so very grateful whenever a reader takes the time to send me a letter, a drawing, or a story of their own.

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Supriya Kelkar

• Author website/social media: Twitter: @soups25    Instagram: @Supriya.Kelkar

Tell me a little about yourself: Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya Kelkar learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. Now she works in the film industry as a Bollywood screenwriter. Ahimsa, inspired by her great-grandmother’s role in the Indian freedom movement, is her debut middle grade novel.

1 When you were my age (8), did you like to read? I used to like to read the Babysitter’s Club series, books by Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl, and a series of comic books from India called Amar Chitra Katha.

2 What was your favorite story? When I was younger, for several years my uncle and aunt would give me a Book of the Month Club membership for my birthday, Diwali and Rakhi presents. This was in the pre-Amazon days, so it was really exciting getting a package with books in it every month. I loved most of those books dearly and still have them all, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I remember really loving the Babysitter’s Club books, Matilda, and Harriet the Spy.

3 How do you get your ideas? They usually come to me when I am trying to solve something for another project I’m working on at the time. Sometimes it can be a picture or an object that gives me the idea. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and inspiration strikes.

4 Is it hard to write a book? It is hard. But it isn’t impossible. It takes a lot of revising and you have to be willing to delete words and characters and chapters you really like. But in the end, it is worth it, when you have a story that works well.

5 Your book is based on your family experience. How did you get the information? I talked to my great-grandmother’s daughter, my great-aunt. I talked to my mom about family stories. And I read my great-grandmother’s biography, written by her husband, my great-grandfather.

6 When we met, you shared how you named your characters. Could you share it here? Yes! The main character, Anjali, is named after my mom. For the rest of the characters, most of them have names of family members from my parents’ or grandparents’ generations. I wanted to make sure they were names that would have existed in the 1940s.

7 What author do you really like right now? That’s a hard question to answer! I have so many favorites right now, that I have gotten to know over the past year. I absolutely adore the books written by all my fellow middle-grade debuts of 2017. I was also really floored by REFUGEE by Alan Gratz.

8 Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? I would highly recommend all the middle grade novels written by the 2017 debut authors. Ali Standish, Melissa Roske, Linda Williams Jackson, Kristin L. Gray, Karina Yan Glaser, Sarah Cannon, Dusti Bowling, Amanda Hosch, Beth Von Ancken McMullen, Karuna Riazi, Gareth Wronski, Leah Henderson, Patricia Bailey, Sally J. Pla…I could go on and on (there are 57 of us at last count!)

9 What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot of books, especially books in the genre you want to write, and keep writing and learning.

10 As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I do! I absolutely love getting to hear from readers that they connected with my book. It is the best feeling and makes my day!

Posted in Blog Tour, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Abby Hanlon

Today is a bonus stop on the Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds blog tour! Today, author Abby Hanlon is joining us to answer my questions.

Abby Hanlon.jpg

Tell me a little about yourself:
Hi Bridget. Thank you for interviewing me! I live in Brooklyn and I have twins who are 11 years old. I started writing the Dory books when they were five years old. I love my job because it is something I get to do with my kids. They help me write my books. It’s a whole family project.
When you were my age (8), did you like to read?
Yes, but I was not a great reader. I had too much energy to stay still. I adored Shell Silverstein’s poems and I liked to act them out for my parent’s friends.
What was your favorite story?
I loved the Ramona books. My third grade teacher thought I looked like Ramona so when our class created a Ramona bulletin board in the hallway, she put photographs of me on the board to represent Ramona! For a long time, that was my closest claim to fame.
How did you become an author? Your bio says you were a teacher.
Yes, I was a first-grade teacher. That was when I first got the idea in my head that I wanted to make books. Not only did I love reading picture books out loud to my students, I loved seeing how my students were able to use words and pictures to tell their own stories. I wanted to do it too! I would go home after school and try and make books like my students. I didn’t know how to draw so I had to start with stick figures. I wrote a picture book manuscript that was inspired by a little boy in my class who hated writing. That became my first book, Ralph Tells A Story.
How do you get your ideas for your stories?

Most of my ideas come from my twins. I have spent a lot of time spying on my kids and writing down the details of their games and the funny things they say. Some examples from when the series first started… Dory pretends to be a dog named Chickenbone –my son pretended to be a dog named Buffy for years, and my daughter was his owner. Dory’s cow costume comes from my son’s beloved cow costume that he wore every day for nine months… and like Dory, he would ask us to milk him. Dory gives the doctor a shot with a lollipop- unfortunately my son actually did that too. Like Dory, my daughter never wanted to take off her nightgown and she constantly begged for salami. Dory’s friend Rosabelle wears many skirts under her dress so her dress looks poufy—that was something my daughter used to love to do.
Is it hard to write a book?
Yes, it’s hard for me. It takes me a long time. I want my books to be funny and also to have a suspenseful story. They also have to be clear and easy to follow and be full of stuff that makes kids go, “That happened to me!” I want my books to be so absorbing for kids that once they start reading, they don’t want to stop. And for kids who are just learning to read, I want them to push through all those new hard words just to find out what happens next. AND I want kids to love the books so much that they read them over and over again. So, yes, it is very hard for me to write a book that can do all that.
What author do you really like right now?
I love Dav Pilkey mostly because of his new Dogman series.
Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

My daughter introduced me to a brilliant Japanese graphic novel/manga series called Yotsub&! by Kiyohiko Azuma. We have so much fun reading it out loud because the dialogue of the 5-year-old girl Yotsuba is hysterical. I also love the French graphic novel series called Ariol.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Well, I know everyone says read a lot. And that’s always a good thing! But what I would also say is to keep your imagination alive. Never outgrow your imagination. Also, I think writing in a diary helps you find your voice. When I was a kid, I wrote a lot in my diary. Writing can be a powerful way of making meaning out of your experiences. For example, if you have an awful day but then you write an amazing story about it – you can wonder- maybe it was worth it to have that horrible day because then I wouldn’t have this story…
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes! I get lots of emails and letters from kids. They send me drawings, photographs and even sometimes photographs of themselves dressing up as Dory or Mrs. Gobble Gracker. Very often their letters are full of ideas for the next Dory book. I love reading their ideas. But mostly I’m just inspired by how many ideas they have. Whenever I ask a kid, what should happen next to Dory, kids never hesitate—they have a million ideas. Their limitless imagination is what inspires me most.


Previous Stops:

2/26 – Librariel Book Reviews – Review
2/27 – Readchapter20 – Review
2/28 – Briannas_book_binding – Review
3/1 – Bridget and the books – Review
3/2 – How Useful Is It – Review

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Debbi Michiko Florence


Tell me a little about yourself: I am the author of the chapter book series Jasmine Toguchi, about a spunky 8-year-old Japanese American girl. The first two books are Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth. Book 3, Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl will publish on April 3 and book 4, Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper will publish on July 3. I am a third generation Japanese American, born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles. As an adult, I have lived in Michigan, Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, and China. I now live in Connecticut with my husband, a rescue dog named Kiku, a bunny named Aki, and two ducks named Darcy and Lizzy. I love to travel with my husband and daughter. I have my degree in zoology with a minor in English. Before I became an author, I was an education curator at a zoo, raptor rehabilitator, and a teacher.

  1. When you were my age, did you like to read?

When I was your age, I absolutely loved to read! In fact, while I was away in college, my mother ran into my former third grade teacher and she said, “Whenever I think of Debbi, I remember her sitting in the reading chair with a book.” I still love to read and read about 100 books a year.

  1. What was your favorite story?

Back then, my two favorite books were Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. They remain favorites. You might notice that Charlotte’s Web is Jasmine Toguchi’s favorite book. J

  1. How do you get your ideas? Like how was Jasmine inspired? Is she based on you?

My ideas come from everywhere. Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen was inspired by a newspaper article I read about a multi-generational Japanese American family that got together every New Year to make mochi in the traditional way. I wondered what would happen if a little girl wanted to do the man’s job of pounding mochi. Would her family support her? How would she convince them?

Jasmine is the little girl I wished I had been. Jasmine is a lot like my daughter, Caitlin, was at that age. I’m embarrassed to say that I was more like bossy big sister Sophie (I am the older sister).

  1. Is it hard to write a book?

Hmmmm. It is hard work to write a book for sure, but it’s also the best job ever!

  1. What author do you really like right now?

Some chapter book and middle grade authors I’m really loving now are Kelly Starling Lyons, Susan Tan, Kat Yeh, Kara LeReau, Karina Yan Glaser, Elly Swartz, Celia Perez, and Jodi Kendall. One of my dear friends and critique partner, Jo Knowles, has a new middle grade coming out spring 2019 called Where The Heart Is that I read in draft form and I absolutely love it. I could go on and on about more authors!

  1. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

There are some amazing debut authors, a few I mentioned above. Andrea Wang (The Nian Monster) and Katie Slivensky (The Countdown Conspiracy) had their fabulous debuts with strong girl characters last year and both have new books coming out soon. Also, a chapter book I read in review copy that I really enjoyed is Owen and Eleanor Move In by H.M. Bouwman (4/3/18). And a couple of middle grade novels coming out later this year that I’m dying to read: Front Desk by Kelly Yang and Babysitting Nightmares by Kat Shepherd.

  1. I found out about your books via Multicultural Children’s Book day. Why do you think Multicultural books are important for kids?

Great question! When I was your age, I wanted to read stories like Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time with characters that looked like me and had similar cultural experiences. I think it’s important that readers see themselves in books and movies/TV – to feel seen and heard and understood. And I think it’s important that all kids learn from differences and see commonalities that unite, too.

  1. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read a lot of books, of all genres. And write, write, write. Most importantly, have fun.

  1. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes! The very first real fan letter I received from a girl in WI made me cry tears of joy. And I’m getting other fan letters, too. I’m making a special scrapbook to save all of these lovely treasures. The best things are hearing that readers love Jasmine, that they relate to her, and that they have learned something new. I get so much joy knowing these things.

Thank you SO much for these fabulous questions, for featuring me and Jasmine on your wonderful blog, and for the truly lovely review of Super Sleuth. It is such a special and meaningful review because you are the reader I write for. (I printed it up to put in my scrapbook!)

Posted in Author Meet Up, Places I visit

A vacation recap

This past week I went on vacation with my family. We went to Orlando, Florida. We flew which is unusual for us. My parents usually drive us to our vacations. It was fun in the airport. Ours has a train, colorful tunnel and cool fountain.

Once in Orlando, we took a bus to Fort Wilderness to meet my grandparents. They joined us on vacation. The next four days I was at Disney World Parks.

It was very fun. My favorite ride was Haunted Mansion. At Animal Kingdom, it was Primeval Whirl. Also in Animal Kingdom, I liked the raft ride a lot! You can also do a fun activity called Wilderness Explorer throughout Animal Kingdom and learn about nature and conservation. I did a few activities but Little Brother did the entire book. He earned his Senior Explorer Badge.

In Disney Springs, we found a bakery that was ok for my brother and I to enjoy. We go cupcakes and donuts. They were so yummy. So look for Erin McKenna’s Bakery if you have allergies.

We also spent one day at Kennedy Space Center. It was very fun and neat to see real space ships. We went to the launch sites too.

The best part of my vacation was drumroll please…. meeting Mike Maihack! He held a talk at a library just so we could finally meet. He does a really good job explaining story telling and his process. He did reveal I have to wait longer for Cleopatra 5 (😭) but promises it is worth the wait.

Now I am back home. Tomorrow I go back to school – boo. I want vacation to be longer!

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Jerry Mahoney

Author website/social media:
– Twitter: @WhyJerryWhy
– Instagram: @jerrymahoney
– Facebook:
Tell me a little about yourself:
I live in Los Angeles, where I’m a stay-home dad to my two kids. They’re boy-girl twins, and just like you, they’re 8 years old and in 3rd grade. I love musicals, baking ridiculously chocolatey cookies and playing Mario Kart — although my son usually beats me at it. 🙂

When you were my age, did you like to read?
I loved to read. My favorite was Judy Blume. I appreciated how she would tackle social issues without being preachy, and how she was so honest with her readers and never talked down to them. She understood that books are what kids help understand the world, and just as importantly, they teach them to respect and empathize with people who are different from them. Plus, I don’t think she gets nearly enough credit as one of the best ever comedy writers.
Now that I’m older and have kids of my own, I’ve loved sharing some of my favorite childhood books with them. Recently, I was reading them Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and I could barely get through some of the passages because I was laughing so hard. I want to be able to write books that are still funny in 20 or 30 years like that!

What was your favorite story?
This might sound strange, but my favorite book as a kid was the novelization of the movie The Goonies, which was written by James Kahn. I loved that it was about a bunch of misfits, because I think, like so many kids, I felt like a misfit myself. And I loved that it was told in the first person. It was so fun reading a book where it just felt like the main character was telling me a story about something cool that happened to him. I also read a ton of Choose Your Own Adventure books, because I loved feeling like I was in control of the story.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that kids should only be reading stuffy literary classics. No offense to the classics — I love some of them, too. But read what you enjoy — graphic novels, fan fiction, movie spin-offs. Who cares? If you’re enjoying it, it’s time well spent.

How do you get your ideas?
It’s impossible to name just one place, because ideas really do come from everywhere. A lot of times, they come from other stories I enjoy, like how classic fairy tales inspired the MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER series. Or I might read a book in a certain genre, like THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH by Max Brallier and think about how fun it was, then go, “If I were going to write a zombie story, how would I do it?”
Very few of the ideas I come up with make it as far as a finished book, but that’s the great thing about ideas. You can never have too many. You just have to be willing to accept that most of them won’t lead anywhere, but every once in a long, long while, you’ll find a gem.

Is it hard to write a book?
It’s hard, but it’s the good kind of hard, because every bit of progress you make feels awesome. And of course, there’s no better feeling than when your book is done, and if you’re fortunate enough to get it published, that’s a big bonus.


What author do you really like right now?
I’m a big fan of Tom Angleberger. He has such a gift for being hilariously funny one second and incredibly sweet the next. He writes about misfits, too, but in such a relatable way that anyone who reads his books will wish they could just hang out with his characters. I also love Chris Grabenstein, who wrote the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library books and dozens of others. His writing is so clear and so fun, I never get bored. I was really thrilled when he agreed to write a blurb for the cover of my new book, BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE. Kidlit authors are the best — so kind and supportive of each other. It’s a wonderful community.

Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
I really like David Walliams. He’s a British author who’s very popular in the UK. He kind of set out to follow in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, writing dark modern fairy tales with a wicked sense of humor. He even had Dahl’s illustrator work on many of his books. He has a similar style to Dahl but with an extra dose of humanity and heart. And he’s very, very funny.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
My advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. Basically, read a lot and write a lot. Think critically about books — what you like about the books you read, as well as what you don’t like. Sometimes, you can learn even more from books you dislike than ones you like. Ask yourself what you would’ve done differently if you’d written that story. How could you have made it more interesting, or made the ending more satisfying? What parts would you cut out? What characters would you spend more or less time with?
Writing is great practice because it helps you develop your voice, which is what will make you stand out from every other writer. Don’t worry if you’re writing a story and it doesn’t turn out as good as you wanted it to be. Even the best writers have many megabytes of stories they would be too embarrassed to show anyone else — comedic stories that didn’t turn out all that funny, adventure stories that didn’t turn out very exciting, scary stories that no one would lose any sleep over. I’m sure even J.K. Rowling has a few.

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I love hearing from readers! Writing books can be such a lonely process. Most of it is just you and your computer, and you have no idea whether anyone’s going to like what you’re working on. So when somebody takes the time to tell me that they enjoyed one of my books, it makes my day! It makes me feel like all the time I spent working on it was worthwhile. That was definitely how I felt when I read your review of MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED CINDERELLA, so thanks again!