Young Readers & Author Insights

Photo of Judy Blume by Carl Lender

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Of late, a law school classmate mentioned how learning about an author enriched his reading experience.

As an author, I have mixed feelings about this.

Part of me feels self-conscious, yearns for privacy and wants the work to speak for itself.

But maybe because I write for young readers, because I used to be one, a bigger part wants to provide that sense of connection and role modeling.

I’m familiar with the limits of literature curriculum (and wish they were dictated by teachers, not politicians).

Given the narrowness of what they’re so often prescribed, I don’t want teens to believe, as I once did, that all authors are long-dead white guys from Europe, England and New England.

Because you know what? I remember when I looked at Judy Blume‘s byline and realized that, like me, she was still alive and, like me, she was a girl.

Okay, a woman, but to get there, she had to have been a girl once upon a time.

And that realization changed “once upon a time” for me forever.

New Interviews With Cynthia Leitich Smith

From teenreads:

“After Blessed (Book 3 in the Tantalize series) was published, I received notes from a half dozen girls who recognized themselves in the Quincie-Brad relationship.

“They recognized the older guy, pushing them toward substance abuse and/or taking advantage of their vulnerabilities. The story made them think, and in some cases, extract themselves from an unhealthy situation.

“I didn’t write the novel with that specific goal in mind. I followed character to plot to theme and didn’t flinch when it led me to tough places, but I’m grateful for that real-world result.”

Read more from teenreads.


“By happenstance, it was Halloween. Grandma and I stayed up talking until
dawn. She hauled out old photo albums and told me things I’d never
known before.

“She told me about living downtown with her sisters…the
alcohol still in her father’s basement…her tall, handsome lost love…what
it’s like to be painted nude…and life in Kansas City during the Second
World War.

“We embraced the opportunity to get to know each other as
women, for that night both of us young.”

Read more from Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers.

Cynsational Notes

It’s a new release week here at Cynsations!

Feral Curse is now available in hardcover and e-book and Feral Nights
is now available in paperback from Candlewick Press in North America.
Both books are likewise now available on audio from Brilliance. Future
releases are pending from Walker Books in the U.K. and Walker Australia
and New Zealand.

Learn more and enter the six-book giveaway at Feral Curse: Giant Steps Through the Ashes.

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers will be held June 16 to June 21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Keynote speaker: James Dashner; faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. Learn about the WIFYR Fellowship Award.