In Their Own Words:

Interviews with Children's and YA
Authors & Illustrators

Levithan - Lyga

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

Wide Awake
"I wanted to make sure that it was clear that 'religious' is not synonymous with 'conservative' or 'anti-gay' or 'anti-Jewish'—instead, most religious people believe in kindness and love and tolerance."

—on WIDE AWAKE (YA)


Blackbeard
"I was so captivated--perhaps I should say captured--by Blackbeard and his rowdy, rousing life that I couldn't help but soldier on until I had captured HIM."

—on BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE KING (PB)

See also J. Patrick on Career Building.


do the math

 

“When I got that idea, I called a friend who was the principal of a school in Oakland, and asked if I could observe an eighth grade math class for a while. I wanted to see both authentic algebra and authentic kids of that age, and my friends said, ‘yes,’ as long as I would stay at least three months.”

—on DO THE MATH: SECRETS, LIES, AND ALGEBRA and THE WRITING ON THE WALL

Year of the Dog
"A lot of my books deal with Chinese culture because, in a way, I'm trying to find the culture I lost. When I was younger, I was ashamed or sometimes even angry about being Chinese. Most of the time I forgot that I was Chinese. Sometimes I would see myself in the mirror and be surprised to see a Chinese girl looking back at me."

—on her body of work


wondrous strange“Both of us were wowed by the city as a whole, but I was absolutely captivated by Central Park. Even in February. We did the touristy stuff on that trip--carriage ride, Tavern on the Green (both of which are now plot points in Wondrous Strange!)--but it was on my next trip that I really got to wander around the Park with some New Yorker friends. We spent hours there, night and day, and I started to get ideas. Ideas about things in the Park that the average park-goer doesn't get to experience. Magical things.”

—on WONDROUS STRANGE (YA)

“I kept a highly detailed chronology of all Ruby's boyfriends, her every shrink appointment, the day-to-day chronology of her breakup and each key event in her transformation from popular girl to leper to famous slut.”

— on THE BOYFRIEND LIST (YA)

Dramarama

" I sold this book on the strength of some anecdotes about drama camp told to an editor at lunch. Donna Bray from Hyperion. She had amazing faith in me that I could make a book out of a few ridiculous stories. I hadn't even known it was a book idea until she told me."

—on DRAMARAMA (YA)


confetti

“The book's called Confetti Girl because Lina's best friend's mom makes cascarones (confetti eggs) as a coping mechanism after her divorce. Cascarones are a Tex-Mex tradition. You fill eggshells with confetti and glue tissue over the hole. Then on Easter morning (or all during Fiesta if you live in San Antonio), you sneak up to people and crack the eggs on their heads.”

—on CONFETTI GIRL (YA)

Rules cover image

"Psychologically, it proved challenging to write such a personal book. It was emotionally draining to keep digging backward to old feelings with each rewrite. Having Rules' release date moved was especially hard, because I had to hold open emotions that I craved to close and grow past after awhile. But I couldn't close them, because I knew I would have to access them again with the next rewrite."

—on RULES (MG)


Little Sap
“As I studied the postcards, one little dancer stood out--different from the rest. She had darker skin and a beautiful sad face. She became Little Sap to me, as I looked at her picture and imagined her life.”

—on LITTLE SAP AND MONSIEUR RODIN (PB)


True Talents
“I'm slowly getting oxygen back into my lungs. I think it's going to turn out okay. Did I mention that I love this book?”

— on DUNK (YA)

“I wanted to call it Flux Sux. We were all set to do that, but a couple months later, my editor got cold feet and said we should change the title.”

—on SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE (YA)

Author Update: David Lubar


Big Slick
“This may sound odd, but when I sat down to write Big Slick I had to actively give myself permission to write the book that needed to be written. I shook out my arms and told myself to forget the trends and the expectations and to just write the book I'd have wanted to read over and over again when I was a teen.”

BIG SLICK (YA)

Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn

“When alcohol abuse is an issue in families, shame naturally follows.”

—on DANCING IN THE STREETS OF BROOKLYN (YA)

 

"I grew up in Dyker Heights and several mobsters lived on my block. When I was a kid I thought it was totally normal (doesn't everyone live this way?), but as I got older I began to realize what a unique experience I had. Finally, I figured, hey, I should write about this!"

—on BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS & OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS (YA)

 

The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine“The inspiration for this book came from the darkest period of my life--when my son Daniel ran away from home.”

—on THE LATENT POWERS OF DYLAN FONTAINE (YA)

 

The Less-Dead“Strangely, my editor suggested I write a story about a serial killer. I wanted to set the book in Austin, which is such an interesting place because it's in the Bible Belt, but it's also a very liberal city with a thriving gay-and-lesbian community. It was the perfect place to present a serial killer who is targeting gay foster teens.”

—on THE LESS-DEAD (YA)

...Fan Boy and Goth Girl

"Since the book was present-tense, there was little room for reflection or second-guessing on Fanboy's part. We were always in his head, in the moment. And he wasn't inclined to cut people slack."

—on THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF
FAN BOY AND GOTH GIRL
(YA)