Author/Illustrator Interviews of 2006


“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.”

Brian Anderson, author of the Zack Proton series (Aladdin, 2006-)

Dianna Hutts Aston; Anjali Banerjee; Brad Barkley


“I enjoy doing these small books. I have a reductionist mind. Whatever I’m dealing with, I tend to take to its simplest, most succinct form. In some situations that isn’t necessarily good. But if you need to take a body of complex information and present it to the very young, it is an essential skill.”

Marion Dane Bauer, author of Grand Canyon and Niagra Falls from the Wonders of America series (Aladdin, 2006)

Margaret Bechard; Susan Taylor Brown; Marina Budhos; Anne Bustard; Toni Buzzeo; Lee Merrill Byrd


“Growing up in the ‘Judy Blume’ era of children’s literature, I remember it really bothered me as a kid to read about situations in which there wasn’t an adult around, noticing at least out of the corner of their eye what was going on. It didn’t seem realistic. So I try to suggest that there are grown-ups out there who can help even when it doesn’t seem like it.”

Esme Raji Codell; author of Vive La Paris (Hyperion, 2006)

Rachel Caine; Lori M. Carlson; Cecil Castellucci; Cinda Williams Chima; Sue Corbett; Cynthia Cotten; Doug Cushman


“I was really intrigued with the idea of appearances, and the assumptions we make based on them. When I was in high school, I was always really envious of those girls who seemed to have everything: the perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect boyfriend, perfect life. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that nobody’s life is perfect, and that those girls probably had a lot of the same problems I did.”

Sarah Dessen, author of Just Listen (Viking, 2006)

Sharon Darrow; Barbara Dee; Shirley Smith Duke; Kathy Duval


“When I received Mary’s first sketches, I couldn’t stop smiling. Her Estelle wasn’t at all the way I’d pictured her; I immediately liked hers better.”

Jill Esbaum, author of Estelle Takes a Bath (Henry Holt, 2006)


“All seven books in the series are published by Writers Exchange E-Publishing using the FlipBook system. This means that each one looks like a book, and kids can hear the pages as they ‘flip’ over–totally cool!”

Margot Finke, the author of a series of educational e-books about U.S. and Aussie animals


“Well, I don’t know anything about what it’s like to be a child prodigy, since I wasn’t all that smart and wasn’t a very good student, either. So I did have to read a lot of books about child prodigies. Also, there is some math in the book (note: you don’t have to like math to like ‘Katherines’), and I am really bad at math, so that was tremendously difficult. Also, Colin speaks 11 languages, and I speak one, so that was time-consuming.”

John Green, author of An Abundance of Katherines (Dutton, 2006)

Gail Giles; Amy Butler Greenfield; Lila Guzman


“Actually, the novel is based on a true story. Late one night, some friends sat around swapping stories about adolescence, and someone began telling a wild tale about living in a funeral home the night his grandfather died.”

Helen Hemphill, author of Long Gone Daddy (Front Street, 2006)

Lynn E. Hazen; Justina Chen Headley; Heather Hepler; Esther Hershenhorn; Ellen Howard


“My father was interned in that camp. The other reason has to do with my belief that it is not just the sharing of values but the sharing of this amazing land that makes us Americans. So I wanted to write about how two groups of people sharing a land can change the world.”

Cynthia Kadohata, author of Weedflower (Atheneum, 2006)

Susan B. Katz; Annette Curtis Klause; Michelle Knudsen; Amy Goldman Koss; Jane Kurtz; Laura McGee Kvasnosky


“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.”

Grace Lin, author of The Year of the Dog (Little Brown, 2006)

Justine Larbalestier; Julie Larios; R.L. LaFevers; David LaRochelle; Carolyn Lehman; Gail Carson Levine; J. Patrick Lewis; Sylvia Long; D. Anne Love; Cynthia Lord; Michelle Lord


“Certainly they [vampires] are frightening and deadly, but the are also alluring. They have attributes we envy, such as eternal youth. They are often attractive, rich, powerful, and educated. They sometimes wear tuxes and live in castles. The paradox there makes them hard to resist, at least as subjects for stories.”

Stephenie Meyer, author of New Moon (Little Brown, 2006)

Dandi Daley Mackall; Christine Kole MacLean; Harry Mazer; Laura Williams McCaffrey; Marisa Montes; Joe Morse; Don Mitchell; Yuyi Morales


“This is a 120-something-page book that began as a picture-book proposal, which says how drastically it’s evolved. My editor drove the project from the beginning. She was enthusiastic about the photos and, as I fed her sections of text, encouraged me to dig deeper and let it grow.”

Deborah Noyes, author of One Kingdom: Our Lives With Animals (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

Kadir Nelson


“Now that our two sons are grown, I realized that my most cherished memories as a mom revolved around that bedtime routine when the boys were very small. I wanted to write a story that would capture both the warm, loving moments and the silly, funny things we shared together night after night.”

Diane Ochiltree, author of Lull-A-Bye, Little One (Putnam, 2006)

Anna Olswanger


“I can still remember the jaw-dropping sight when he opened the door: the entire room was filled with giant rainbow-colored pyramids. They were suspended from the lights and lined up along the windowsills and bookshelves. It was a magical, almost gravity-defying sight.”

Shelley Pearsall, author of All of the Above (Little Brown, 2006)

Lisa Papademetriou; Linda Sue Park; Marlene Perez; Sara Rojo Perez; Matteo Pericoli


“Most of my inspiration now comes from my own writing. There might be a secondary character or theme in a novel that I want to explore further. Most of my novels are in some fashion linked to each other.”

Marsha Qualey, author of Just Like That (Dial, 2005)


“Ela was chosen to play the role of the Cat in the children’s opera ‘Brundibar’ that was performed at Terezin 55 times. To this day whenever it’s performed anywhere in the world she’s invited to attend and sing the final Victory March with the children who perform.”

Susan Goldman Rubin, co-author of The Cat With The Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin, also by Ela Weissberger (Holiday House, 2006)

Douglas Rees; Phyllis Root; Laura Ruby; Laura Ruby


“There was so much I wanted to ask my mom–more than ever before. So the immediate inspiration for Dream Journal was becoming a mother and finding that I needed to talk to a mother (albeit a fictional one) in the most profound way possible. The more long-term inspiration was, of course, my old friend and enemy, Loss. Ultimately I just wanted to write the book I wished I could have read when I was a teen, and that I still needed to read as an adult.”

Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Dream Journal (Hyperion, 2006)

April Pulley Sayre; Lola M. Schaefer; Leda Schubert; Melissa R. Schorr; Heidi E.Y. Stemple; Tanya Lee Stone; Laurie Faria Stolarz


“The idea behind the story is Cyrano-inspired. We knew we wanted one character helping another to spark a romance, only to get sucked further into it than he originally intended. Then there was the gay-straight twist layered onto that. Then there was the idea that two characters (and two authors) should tell the story.”

Chris Tebbetts, co-author of M or F?, also by Lisa Papademetriou (Razorbill, 2005).

Don Tate


“I’ve always loved fantasy novels, but my favorites have been the ones where the hero leaves this world for another. It’s not only the discovery, it’s also the fact that when you first enter a new world (or school or city), nobody knows who you are yet, and you can break out of any mold in which people have placed you in the past. No longer are you Megan, the plain tomboy. Now, you’re a sword-wielding heroine!”

Jo Whittemore, author of Escape from Arylon (Book One from the Silverskin Legacy)(Llewellyn/Flux, 2006)

Melanie Watt; Nancy Werlin; Scott Westerfeld; Lisa Wheeler; Lori Aurelia Williams; Rita Williams-Garcia; Tim Wynne-Jones


“My grandmother told me a story about the Bardin Booger when I was little. This is my hometown’s version of the Bigfoot legend, and I’ve heard about sightings since then in the marshy forests that separate the small towns and cities of North Florida.”

Roxyanne Young, co-author of Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May Or May Not Exist, also by Kelly Milner Halls (author interview) and illustrator Rick Spears (Darby Creek, 2006).


“I have file drawers full of stuff I’ve written that will forever languish in a dusty dark purgatory. It’s frustrating, but I have to keep in mind that not everything I create will have a published future. Sometimes we write just to flex our mental muscles and shape our individual style.”

Jennifer Ziegler, author of Alpha Dog (Delacorte, 2006)

Sara Zarr

Cynsational Notes

Interviews with Justine Larbalestier, Sara Rojo Perez, Scott Westerfeld, and Doug Cushman were offered in conjunction with SCBWI Bologna 2006.

See also Publishing Interviews of 2006!

Thanks to all of those above for sharing their thoughts!