In Their Own Words:

Interviews with Children's and YA
Authors & Illustrators

Abbott-Aston

Sample these Author Profiles and Stories Behind the Stories, then follow the links to the full interviews.

The Postcard“I have to say it became a rather bigger affair than I intended, but in a way it's my favorite book; an homage to old Florida, to noir writing, and to young love.”

 

—on THE POSTCARD (MG)


Sara's City by Sue Alexander

"I put the manuscript into my file drawer after two years of rejections."

— on SARA'S CITY (PB)


Pied Piper of Austin“I visited City Hall, the Capitol, the sculpture garden, Mount Bonnell, Barton Springs, the Congress Bridge. There are slight deviations from those places, but for the most part they are recognizable.”

—on THE PIED PIPER OF AUSTIN (PB)


Zack Proton headline"The biggest challenge was reformatting the story from a traditional chapter book into the wacky format it ended up in. My editor told me I had to cut the word count from 7000 words to 4000, but the story was pretty lean to begin with and there just wasn't a lot of room for cuts."

—on the ZACK PROTON series (CB)

Trudy“Watching my grandmother lose her independence to Alzheimer's has been incredibly painful. Writing Trudy was a way for me to release the grief I felt and to also remember the happy and funny times together.”

—on TRUDY (YA)


Whales on Stilts Cover Art

“I spent a great deal of time in a bathyscaphe, of course, doing research, and taped hours of interviews with dolorous, even bitter, whale/human hybrids.”

— on WHALES ON STILTS (MG)


Such a Pretty Face cover"I did have one moment of absolute panic, though, when Susan called and said I had to kill the 'teacher-ly or academic' introduction I had originally written. She asked for my own turning point story. My first reaction was to tell Susan, 'No one reads introductions anyway.' In the end, I wrote a true story about how, as a truly insecure and dorky teen and the sister of one of the beautiful girls, I was set up to believe I had actually captured the attention of one of the beautiful guys only to learn the beautiful girls had paid him five dollars to kiss me."

— on SUCH A PRETTY FACE:
SHORT STORIES ABOUT BEAUTY
(YA)

 

The Underneath“I have to say, coming up with those 60 pages was hard. I was working on them right up to the deadline, and I think the last 45 of those 60 pages were pretty awful. And the first 15 were only a step above awful.”

—on THE UNDERNEATH (MG)

“Our toddler years and our teen years are perhaps the most 'passionate' times in our whole lives. At no other times do we yearn so much for things like independence, acceptance, responsibility, freedom, justice, all those things.”

— on KISSING TENNESSEE (YA)

Down Cut Shin Creek"Okay, so Allyn bought it, and I'm feeling really smug. Then I had to completely rewrite it."

— on THE ALLEY CAT'S MEOW (PB)

Kathi also shares insights behind: COWBOY DREAMS (PB); DOWN CUT SHIN CREEK (PB); MY FATHER'S HOUSE (PB); and BAYOU LULLABY (PB). See also Kathi’s interview with Joy Fisher Hein on MISS LADY BIRD’S WILDFLOWERS (PB).

Summoning
“When I realized this story needed a teenage protagonist, I balked and it was a long time before I could bring myself to seriously consider writing it. I write first-person, meaning I don't just need to get into my narrator's head, but take on her voice. I'm...a little ways from being 15. I have a daughter that age, and there's nothing better than that to make you realize how far removed you are from an age group!”

—on THE SUMMONING (YA)

The Real Revolution“For one thing, I did ask myself a simple question: why did the Brits send the tea that the Americans tossed into Boston harbor? I had never read anything about that, their motivation. The answer did transform how I saw American history.”

— on THE REAL REVOLUTION:
THE GLOBAL STORY OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
(YA)

Head Case by Sarah Aronson
“I asked myself: who was today's Hester Prynne? In today's young adult world, what is the most unforgivable crime? I decided that vehicular manslaughter — especially driving under the influence of alcohol — was something a community would have a hard time forgiving. The 'A' was his wheelchair.”

—on HEAD CASE (YA)

bookjacket“Before selling this book, I'd won a lot of awards (a free trip to New York to meet with editors, a work-in-progress grant, etc...), and I suppose I got my hopes up a few too many times. In fact, I almost quit writing about nine months before this book sold. I started questioning whether there was some other creative outlet out there for me.”

—on THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (YA)

“I heard Peter Jennings say, ‘The polar icecap is melting!’ but I [also] heard, ‘The sky is falling!’ and there was the whole book.”

— on LOONY LITTLE (PB)

An Egg is Quietdianna hutts aston
(with sylvia long):

“Egg is one of those books remarkable for the collaboration that produced it. I think of Victoria as the conductor, melding the talents of writer, artist, designer, calligrapher, and others into a lyrical tribute to eggs--and that’s just the creation of the actual book.”

—on AN EGG IS QUIET (PB)

 A Butterfly is Patient"As for the process, with nonfiction or historical fiction, the pattern is the same. Curiosity, observation, research, revision, revision, revision."

--on A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT (PB)