Sample these Author Profiles and Stories Behind the Stories, then follow the links to the full interviews.
“At a time when women’s rights and opportunities were limited, Moina had made a difference. She was strong and purpose filled. And the motto she lived by--"Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might"--opened up endless possibilities for her.”
"It’s humor that finally made Scaredy what he is now. And writing humor was not something I knew I was able to deliver. I sat down one day and decided to approach this story in a new way, by being as ridiculous as I could. Then, ideas started popping in my head."
—on SCAREDY SQUIRREL (PB)
“Billie has been my muse for decades. Like her, I grew up in Baltimore. I heard her music at an early age because my father was a jazz fan and owned a few of her records.”
—on BECOMING BILLIE HOLIDAY (YA)
"I think studying novel writing through the years, as I worked on middle grade manuscripts, helped prepare me for writing a picture book."
“When she started painting, she did it after putting in a full day's work doing household chores on the plantation, which at that point was a haven for well-known writers and artists to create their craft. Clementine started displaying her work on a clothesline and later in life had her work displayed in museums.”
"When you are a kid, everything can feel so super-charged, and yet as adults we forget this and figure that nothing in a kid's life can possibly be that important."
—on FLORA SEGUNDA (MG)
“Writing across genres has given me joy. It’s made writing a path full of surprises. It’s given me a sense of freedom to choose what I like to explore. It’s allowed me to dive into subjects that intrigue me. I think that makes my writing stronger because I write out of a passionate interest in a theme, subject or emotion.”
—on CAREER BUILDING
“Long ago, I heard about a girl who had run from her home because she didn't want to marry a much-older family member. The moment I heard that story, I was like, I'll write a book about that some day. But the story stayed just a kernel of an idea for many, many years.”
––on THE CHOSEN ONE (YA)
“I learned that most injured soldiers want to return to their units. I learned that TBI can be invisible and still create life-altering changes in its victims' thought processes. I developed a deep respect for the men and women who've given so much in the line of duty. I began to understand how people hold up in war time.”
—on BULL RIDER (YA)
"The focus of the story changed as my characters became real. I had to abandon revictimization as a focus. Most women or girls don't report rape and most women of color don't receive any form of justice. I could work that angle, but that wasn't where my heart was. I did know what Thulani and Ysa were to each other and that this was stronger than formula."
—on EVERY TIME A RAINBOW DIES (YA)
“If this were a Shakespearean tragedy, Leticia would torture herself pondering what to do. But alas, Leticia is concerned with gluing on her false fingernail tip and getting a good seat to the fight at 2:45.”
—on JUMPED (YA)
See also Rita on Career Building.
"It’s wise to have a basic idea of how you want the trilogy to play out before you start sending it off to publishers because one of their questions will be, 'Do you know how it ends?'"
—on ESCAPE FROM ARYLON (YA)
"One thing I kept waffling over was whether to have Steve the Dumpster Diver get hurt. I didn't want this book to be heavy-handed and preachy. Didacticism: the kiss of death in reviews! I didn't want my book to discourage "respectable people" from Dumpster diving. I wanted this book to be a call-to-action to all of us to stop wasting so much stuff, and an inspiration to make new things from junk."
"So I was on the rebound, so to speak, and wrote very gingerly. I wasn't exactly insecure but smarting. The thing was, I knew I was in the zone with this -- it was my kind of book. But it wasn't an easy book to unlock."
— on A THIEF IN THE HOUSE OF MEMORY (YA)