Cynsations

About Cynthia Leitich Smith

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Photo by Christopher T. Assaf.

Mini Bio

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate and a New York Times bestselling author of books for young readers, including HEARTS UNBROKEN, which won the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award. Her 2021 releases are the middle grade anthology ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS and novel SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA.

She is also the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and serves as the Katherine Paterson Inaugural Endowed Chair on the faculty of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cynthia is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and lives in Austin, Texas.

Short Bio

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate as well as a best-selling, award-winning children’s-YA writer, writing teacher, and the author-curator of the Native-centered Heartdrum imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Cynthia’s 2021 releases are her middle grade anthology ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS and her middle grade novel SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA. She also looks forward to THE BLUE STARS middle grade graphic novel series, co-authored by Kekla Magoon and illustrated by Molly Murakami.

ANCESTOR APPROVED has received four starred reviews and is both a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and a Kids Indie Next List Pick.

Her debut picture book, JINGLE DANCER, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, is widely considered a modern classic. She was named Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers for RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME and won the American Indian Youth Literature Award for Young Adult Books for HEARTS UNBROKEN, which also was named to YALSA’s Amelia Bloomer list and received the Foreword Reviews Silver Medal in Young Adult Fiction. In addition, Cynthia is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling YA author of the TANTALIZE series and FERAL trilogy.

Cynthia lives in Austin, Texas, which is Jumanos, Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche), Sana, and Tonkawa ancestral land, and is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation. The Austin chapter of SCBWI has instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor. She also serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, where she is the inaugural Katherine Paterson Endowed Chair. In addition, Cynthia coordinates and leads the annual We Need Diverse Books Native Writing Intensive.

Cynthia holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas, Lawrence and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. She studied law abroad at Paris-Sorbonne University.

See recent interviews and articles featuring Cynthia here.