Sample these Author Profiles and Stories Behind the Stories, then follow the links to the full interviews.
“I wanted to create a bedtime book that was warm and sweet and reeked of unconditional love!”
— on HOW MANY KISSES
DO YOU WANT TONIGHT? (PB)
“Tae was very possessive of my time. Her voice consumed me... I felt that I couldn't rest until I wrote her story.”
— on TAE’S SONATA (YA)
"In the first draft, Anu goes to India to meet a sadhu, a Hindu holy man. But Wendy suggested that we set the story entirely in America, so I rewrote the middle section of the book. Now Anu's great aunt visits from India, and brings a video of a sadhu."
—on LOOKING FOR BAPU (MG)
“Well, you know those fluorescent oranges and yellows and greens that you see every day on traffic cones, safety vests, highlighters, and so on?
”Until about 70 years ago, those colors didn't even exist. The Day-Glo Brothers is the story of the guys who invented those colors while they were in their teens and 20s back during the Depression and World War II.”
“I needed to imagine—that if my mother hadn't died but, rather, had abandoned me (which is as close to suicide as I could create as a writer)--then what would happen if I tracked her down and confronted her. What would she say when I asked her: why?”
--on ALL WE KNOW OF LOVE (YA)
"As to the fantasy element, I was mindful of my young audience, wanting a story that would feel mysterious but not too scary. When I was very young I had a repeated dream about being transported to a playground in my wall during the night. It was an utterly rapturous experience. So passing into or through a wall still feels not only possible to me but like a fine thing to be doing."
—on THE BLUE GHOST (ER)
"Actually we produced this book twice, once in 2005 as a 64-page supplement to a special edition of Our Country's Presidents, and again two years later as a stand-alone edition. We knew from the beginning that the supplement might turn into its own book, so I collected sources and notes during the first production that would enhance an expanded edition. It took about six months to reinvent the book into its new 128-page layout."
—on OUR COUNTRY'S FIRST LADIES (PB)
"Writing When Giants Come to Play was a turning point for me. After I wrote it, I felt tingly for a week. I loved this book and felt that I had found my voice when I wrote it. Before Giants, I thought of myself as a person who wrote. After Giants, I thought of myself as a writer."
—on WHEN GIANTS COME TO PLAY (PB)
“Another challenge was remaining objective when some rumors are still so hotly debated by historians. For example, history is still undecided on whether Richard III killed his nephews. And Mary Queen of Scots always gets people deeply divided on whether she was a conniver or an unfortunate victim.”
—on THE RAUCOUS ROYALS (PB)
"Many books have the underlying message that it is cool to be unique, but in the days of the circus it really did pay to be different. The strangeness of each one of the performers didn't make them handicapped, it made them true stars."
—on WHO PUT THE B IN BALLYHOO? (PB)
"Pirates with a GPS? It was an easy leap — for my brain anyway — to pirates in space. I spent the rest of the hike with space ships and laser guns and techno pirates buzzing in my head. And Spacer and Rat was conceived."
—on SPACER AND RAT (YA)
“For the story to work, my character had to be unable to interact with this pet in any physical way. I eliminated every pet my character could pet, sleep with, exercise, tease or play with.”
— on NOT NORMAN: A GOLDFISH STORY (PB)
“I hit bad patches all the time, with every story, and so I have to keep telling myself “I am a writer! I can do this! I can tell this story!” over and over and over again. It’s my mantra.”
— on Career Building
“I've always considered fantasy as much a genre of exploration as it is escapism, and one of the greatest times to read such stories is when you're a teen. Your suspension of disbelief is less wary, and you aren't so jaded, allowing you to immerse yourself in fiction with such eagerness. Reading becomes a magical act of its own.”
—on MAGIC IN THE MIRRORSTONE (YA)
"... [the] idea of publishing it came from many librarians and many teachers who said there was a need for this bilingual material."
“At that same conference, HarperCollins editor Robert Warren was a speaker. He smoked a lot—he still does—and being the good environmentalists that Oregonians are, nobody followed him when he went outside to smoke. But I did!”
"My advice is not just for the re-tellers but for everyone. Make sure you're telling your story with accuracy and respect. Even if it is your own culture, check the facts. Don't rely on your memory. Tell the truth. Write an author's note saying what you made up and what you didn't. Tell the readers about your sources. If you don't have passion for the story, don't write it. Because then your lack of research will show."
“…I've been paired with Pauline Rodriguez Howard... Our last book together, UNCLE CHENTE'S PICNIC (2001) features illustrations of members of my own family, including my own face for Aunt Linda who bakes the chocolate cake for the picnic.”
— on UNCLE CHENTE’S PICNIC (PB)
AUTHOR UPDATE: Diane Gonzales Bertrand