When you were my age did you like to read?
I write about children, so it definitely helps that I’m around kids all day. I hear how they talk and see how they act, so that (hopefully) helps me create more realistic characters. Another part of my job is reading lots of children’s novels, so I always stay immersed in that world.
I think Jonathan Auxier is a splendid writer. I’ve just begun his new one–Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster–and it’s top notch, as always. Kate DiCamillo and Katherine Applegate are always sure bets as well.
Read, read, read. Not just novels–short stories, too, since that’s what you’ll be writing at the start. And make sure you write every single day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It’s like exercise!
Social media is great for interacting with readers, and I’m also lucky enough to get emails as well. It’s especially touching when the email comes from somewhere far away, like England or Australia. I’m always flattered when any reader takes the time to reach out and contact me, because that means they really loved something I wrote. That makes all that hard work worth it!
It definitely wouldn’t be one of my books–too scary! I’d have to say Harry Potter. It’s such a rich and varied world, and I’d love to explore it. (But only if I get to be in Ravenclaw
- Author website/social media:www.soontornvat.com @soontornvat (Twitter)
When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I loved magical fantasy stories, like Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also loved comics! My favorite ones were Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.
What was your favorite story?
I read The Hobbit about a hundred times!
How do you get your ideas?
I get some of my best ideas when I have to make up a story on the spot for kids. The Changelings books came about when I made up a story about two sisters for my nieces. Somehow when I am telling a story out loud, my imagination really takes over and goes to some wild places.
Why do you think diverse/multicultural books matter? How would 9 yr old you react to the books?
I think diverse books matter because we live in a diverse world. For a long time, books featured only one type of character, which is a shame because our world has so many different types of people in it. All those different people deserve to be heroes in books! And personally, I don’t want to read books about one type of person all the time. I want to read books that show me the whole wide world.
What author do you really like right now?
I love so many authors, how could I choose just one? One of my favorite authors is Lindsay Eager. Her book Race To the Bottom of the Sea is one of my favorite magical adventures. There are pirates and candy and sharks and heartaches. It has everything.
Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
There is a new book coming in December, called Blizzard Besties written by Yamile Saied Méndez that is about a girl who has to save her little brother during a snow storm (with the help of a lovable dog). I love snow survival stories so I’m really looking forward to it!
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Now is the time to try out writing whatever you want. Don’t worry about anyone reading it, don’t worry about being perfect. You don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to! But the more you can practice and stretch your writing muscles now, the better you will get.
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I do! I love getting emails from kids or their parents telling me they read the book. I never, ever get tired of it. My Changelings books have big twists at the end, and I love hearing from kids who never saw it coming!
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
I’d portal into Middle Earth (from the Lord of the Rings books). Hopefully not during a battle. I would prefer to portal straight into an Elvish feast with lots of singing and good food!
- Author website/social media: www.garethwronski.com, www.twitter.com/garethwronski
- Tell me a little about yourself: I’m a Canadian writer of science fiction and fantasy. My first book, HOLLY FARB, was published last year by Simon & Schuster. I also write screenplays, and spend my free time avoiding the terrifying swans that live nearby.
I actually wasn’t a huge reader as a child. I mostly watched movies and played video games, and the only books I read were ones I was forced to read in school. When I was a bit older I got more into it and started reading for pleasure.
The one book I remember really liking as a kid was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, about a boy who is stranded in the wilderness and has to find a way to survive. It also made me afraid of camping.
I’m not sure exactly where I get my ideas from — they just sort of pop into my head! I’d love to write another book about Holly, but that’s up to the publisher and whether they want to.
The last book I read was The Witch Apprentice by James Nicol, which I really enjoyed.
I can name a bunch of new authors people should check out: Wendy McLeod MacKnight, Heidi Lang, Kati Bartkowski, Beth McCMullen, Alexandra Ott, Sarah Cannon, Supriya Kelkar, Patricia Bailey, Melissa Roske, Lindsey Becker, Katie Slivensky, Jarrett Lerner, Darcy Miller, Rob Vlock, Sally J. Pla, and many others I’m probably forgetting.
Don’t let anyone discourage you! Take time to have fun and figure out what sort of books you want to write. The good thing about writing at a young age is you have a lot of freedom to just enjoy the process and whatever you’re creating.
I hear from readers from time to time, either by email or on Twitter. It’s always nice because one of the strange things about writing a book is you create this thing that then goes off into the world and you have no idea how anyone is reacting to it, or if they’re reacting to it at all. It’s like 70,000 words of talking to yourself, so it’s nice to have other people talk back.
Harry Potter. I’d play Quidditch by day and solve magical mysteries by night.
Author website/social media:
debbiedadey.com; Facebook.com/debbiedadey; Twitter.com/debbiedadey
1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
Yes! I read under the covers at night, at the supper table with a book in my lap (makes for sticky books), and even in the bathtub (definitely not recommended-unless you like wet books!)
2. What was your favorite story?
My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Forker, read aloud to us every day. It was the best part of school (that and recess). She read the Little House on the Prairie books to us. To this day I still like books about westward expansion, but now I know how much that cost American Indians. Since I have a tiny bit of Cherokee Indian in me, the story Trail of Tears has always hurt my heart. In fact, I wrote a story called Cherokee Sister about two friends caught up in the forced Indian removal from their land, spurred by President Andrew Jackson.
3. How do you get your ideas?
I get ideas from everywhere. My friend Marcia Thornton Jones and I had the idea for our first published book from a really bad day at school. We jokingly said that if we were monster teachers all the kids in our classes would behave. What did we do? We created a teacher in Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots who just might be a vampire! It turned into a series of over sixty books called The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, with the two spin-off series of Bailey School Kids Junior Chapter Books and Bailey City Monsters.
I have a fairy garden in my yard and that gave me the idea to write Fairy Chase (Mermaid Tales #18), where Echo wants to find a fairy. She gets a little help from some stinky fairy juice and her friends.
My children have also given me great ideas. My daughter was in lots of schools plays and gave me the idea to write Once Upon A Star Fish (Mermaid Tales #12). My youngest son loves to skateboard, so I’ve been working on a skateboarding book. My oldest son, Nathan, and I wrote two books together, Slime Wars and Slime Time. We didn’t have an idea for a story at first, but we brainstormed to come up with ideas. We just said, “What would be fun to write about” and went from there.
4. What author do you really like right now?
I am lucky enough to belong the Midsouth chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers and Illustrators) and have met many wonderful authors and illustrators through that organization. Currently, I am rereading a book by Tracy Barrett called Anna of Byzantium.
5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
There are so many wonderful authors. Last summer I went on a Girls Read Tour with Stephanie Faris and Gail Nall and we had a great time. They both write really fun books for girls. They wrote one for older girls with other friends called Best.Night.Ever.
6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
I have two words of advice for anyone who wants to be an author: read and write. Okay, that is officially three words, but reading a lots and writing a lot are keys to developing into being a better writer. And they’re both fun! My website, debbiedadey.com, has a writing page that has some activities, videos, podcasts, and tips you might like to try.
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? It is the most wonderful thing! Just this morning on Twitter (twitter.com/debbiedadey) I received an amazing letter from a mom who read my books when she was young. She totally freaked out when her son brought home Werewolves Don’t Go to Summer Camp from his school library. She sent me a picture and told me how much the Bailey School Kids books meant to her when she was growing up. I hope her son will enjoy them too!
8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
Ha! I think it would be totally fun to be a mermaid in Ready, Set, Goal! and visit the lost city of Atlantis!
Author Website/Social Media: passingfair.com, @passingfair on Twitter
When you were my age (9), did you like to read? I loved to read! In fact, I was rarely doing anything else. I’ve been a regular at my local library since I was three and you were always most likely to find me curled up with a book somewhere.
What was your favorite story? That’s a hard question. I was always reading so I probably had a new favorite every few weeks. I read the entire Sherlock Holmes series when I was probably around ten and that has been one of my favorites since then, nevermind it inspiring me to write mysteries myself so I think it makes a fairly good case for being my favorite.
How do you get your ideas? All sorts of ways. Sometimes I think of a cool idea and I write it down somewhere to remember or expand on later and sometimes something pops into my head out of nowhere and I have to write it all down right away. Talking to friends about ideas and stories is also another good way to think of new ideas. My first book was based on an idea of my friend Terry’s that we wrote together.
Your book was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard? I think it was a lot easier than it should have been! Everyone was incredibly nice and professional, so it was easy to work with them. We also have a Facebook group just for us where we chat all the time so even though we’re all over the country, it felt like we were in the same room. Chad did a good job of wrangling us and everyone was so excited about the book, it was easy to come together to work.
What author do you really like right now? David Mitchell and Bill Bryson are two of my all time favorite authors but they’re a little old for this blog. I’m always happy to read a new book by Meg Cabot, Raina Telegemeier, or Shannon Hale.
Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? She’s not new but Juliet Marillier is one of my all-time favorites that a lot of people haven’t read. She does retellings of fairy and folk tales with really great female characters. I reread her Sevenwaters series every few years.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? It’s pretty simple but just do a lot of reading and writing! Write anything and everything. Writing is a skill you practice like anything else and the more you write, the more you get comfortable with it. Reading gives you an idea of what you like and don’t like in stories, how stories are shaped and all sorts of other ideas. If you already like reading and writing, you’re well on your way!
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that Sometimes I do and I always love it. Writing is a pretty solitary job and you work on something special for years, sometimes, without knowing if people are going to like it or not. Hearing from someone that they enjoyed it or recommended it to a friend is a lovely feeling that makes you feel like you did something worthwhile. There’s nothing better.
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? That’s such a hard question! It’s pretty cliché but honestly, I think I’d have to go with Harry Potter. Being able to do magic would be cool, and as a Hufflepuff, my room would be near the kitchen!
- Author website/social media: www.jacquelinewest.com; Instagram: jacqueline.west.writes; Facebook: Jacqueline West, Author
- Tell me a little about yourself:
Hi! I’m Jacqueline, and I’m a writer. My middle-grade fantasy series, The Books of Elsewhere, began in 2010 and got a bunch of lovely accolades, including a CYBILS award and a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list. My new middle-grade fantasy, The Collectors, will be released on October 9, 2018, and I’ve got two more middle grade novels and one YA novel coming out in 2019. I live in Minnesota with my husband and our son, plus one bouncy brown dog named Brom Bones.
- When you were my age, did you like to read?
YES. I was the kind of kid who got in trouble for reading too much—like when I was supposed to be paying attention in class, or when it was two hours past my bedtime, or when I completely missed my bus stop because I was so absorbed in my book. But it was all worth it!
- What was your favorite story?
As a young reader, I loved stories that mixed fear and funniness, mystery and magic. Some of my very favorites were The Hobbit, the Bunnicula series, Alice in Wonderland, and everything by Roald Dahl.
- How do you get your ideas?
I’m an idea collector. Everywhere I go, everything I read, everything I see or hear or overhear becomes material for the story collage. The real trick is putting those ideas together…
- What author do you really like right now?
Oh, I love SO MANY authors, I can hardly choose. I’ve never read anything by Kate DiCamillo that I didn’t think was fantastic. Same goes for Jewell Parker Rhodes and Laurie Halse Anderson.
- Do you have any new or lesser known authors or illustrator you would suggest?
Diane Magras’s MG debut, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, just came out this spring, and it’s one of the best middle grade books I’ve read in a long time: breathtaking adventure, a fascinating historical setting, and a main character I adored.
- There is a lot of talk about the need for multicultural books. What do you think about this?
I think the discussion is long overdue, and I’m glad it’s happening. Readers of all backgrounds need and deserve to see themselves reflected in the books they read, and authors of diverse backgrounds deserve the chance to tell their stories. On top of that, reading creates empathy. When you read a story, you’re stepping inside of someone else’s life for a while—and what a world-changing experience that is! We might never be able to completely understand the experiences of someone whose life is very different from our own, but the more stories we share, the closer we get.
- What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author/illustrator?
Read like crazy. Write like crazy. Repeat.
- As an illustrator/author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes, I get a lot of mail from readers, and it’s incredibly cool! Most of a writer’s work is pretty isolated—in my case, it’s usually just me, in my house, in my wrinkled pajamas, scribbling or typing away. Hearing from readers reminds you that your books are traveling all around the world to places where you’ve never been, that your stories and characters exist in the imaginations of people you’ve never met. And that’s like magic.
The Collectors (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2018)
The Books of Elsewhere (Dial/Penguin, 2010 – 2014)