The Secret of My Success: An Interview with Author and Speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith

Read The Secret of My Success: An Interview with Author and Speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith by Suzanne Lieurance.

I’d like to thank Suzanne for her graciousness, her interest, and for taking the time to correspond with me about my writing life. I’m honored.

Suzanne is a freelance writer and children’s author living in the Midwest. She also teaches via the Institute of Children’s Literature, offers online children’s writing workshops, and has just launched a working writer’s coaching program. Find out more about her books and see her articles for writers.

In the interview I mention a recent read: My Childhood Under Fire: A Sarajevo Diary by Nadja Halilbegovich (Kids Can Press, 2006)(sample chapter–PDF file). This publication of the diary Nadja began at age 12, continuing through the seige of Sarajevo (1992-1995), offers poignant insights into the life of a tween/teen during wartime. “Looking Back” sections are interspersed to offer a broader perspective, and Nadja’s experience is further illuminated by black-and-white photos. It’s an affecting, timely title, especially recommended to mother-daughter book clubs. Ages 10-up. I plan to add it to my bibliography: War and Peace in Children’s Literature.

Cynsational News & Links

The Combination: “They Think They Are Better:” a discussion of The Combination by Ashley Nelson (Soft Skull, Press, 2005) from Colleen Mondor via Voices of New Orleans. Colleen writes: “The Neighborhood Story Project is a collaborative partnership between John McDonogh Senior High, the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans and the University of New Orleans. It is currently comprised of five books on various neighborhoods in the city that were originally published in June 2005. The authors were all students at John McDonogh who went though a year-long creative writing course.” Note: I’ve ordered and look forward to reading these YA memoirs and am interested in hearing from anyone who’s connecting them to teen readers. Each book and the set are available for sale from the official website, which is also accepting donations, and from major online retailers.

Hot Off the Press: A Sneak-Peek at Publishers’ Newest and Hottest Titles from CBC Magazine. Highlights include: The Patch by Justina Chen Headley, illustrated by Mitch Vane (Charlesbridge, 2006)(author interview); Punished! by David Lubar (Darby Creek, 2006)(author interview); Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by James Ransome (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2006); and Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker (Roaring Brook, 2006)(author interview).

Meet the Author: Christopher Paul Curtis from CBC Magazine. “Christopher Paul Curtis is the bestselling author of Bud, Not Buddy (winner of the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Medal, among many other honors) and most recently of Bucking the Sarge and Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money. His first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, was also singled out for many awards, among them a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor.”