New Voices: Katia Raina & Sofiya Pasternack on the Challenges of Using Personal or Family History in Your Novel

By Robin Galbraith

I had the pleasure of interviewing Katia Raina and Sofiya Pasternack, two authors who each have a 2019 debut novel that takes place in Russia and deals with anti-Semitism. Although Katia wrote a realistic young adult novel and Sofiya wrote a middle grade fantasy, these two debut authors each chose this very specific setting because of their own personal or family history.

Their discussion on how they were each drawn to such a specific setting,

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Native Voice: Anthony Perry on Growing as a Writer

By Traci Sorell

Tony, I’m delighted to welcome you to Cynsations! You have written a detailed, well-paced historical middle grade novel, Chula the Fox (White Dog Press, 2018), set in the Chickasaw homelands of what is now Mississippi in the 1700s.

Congratulations on winning the 2019 Ben Franklin Award Gold Medal from the Independent Book Publishers Association and the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medal for Multicultural Fiction in the Juvenile-Young Adult category for your debut work!

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Guest Post: J. Albert Mann on Choosing Fiction Over Nonfiction to Write Margaret Sanger’s Life

By J. Albert Mann

The Choice Between Fiction or Nonfiction

Choosing is what writers do. We choose our subjects, our characters, our point of views. If you write fiction, you are literally responsible for every horrible event which befalls your characters because they’re all your choices.

But there are choices in nonfiction, too—an entire universe of choices…even other universes. One of these choices in writing nonfiction is to crossover into fiction.

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Guest Post: Yona Zeldis McDonough on Staying True to Yourself

Yona Zeldis McDonough

by Yona Zeldis McDonough

I hate weapons, especially firearms. Always have, and always will. Even the sight of a legally sanctioned gun—police office, hunter—makes me recoil and I literally take a step back.

Along with hating weapons, I hate war and though I concede that some wars have been necessary, I fail to see warfare as heroic or noble.

So when Scholastic tapped me to write a book about the evacuation at Dunkirk [of World War II.],

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Interview: Joseph Bruchac on Telling Stories and Two Roads

By Traci Sorell

I’m delighted to feature the prolific, award-winning poet and author Joseph Bruchac and his latest middle grade novel, Two Roads (Dial, 2018) on Cynsations.

From the promotional copy:

It’s 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his Pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. 


Cal likes being a “knight of the road” with Pop,

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New Voice: Caroline Leech on Wait for Me

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Caroline Leech is the debut author of Wait for Me (HarperTeen, 2017). From the promotional copy:

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled.  Continue Reading New Voice: Caroline Leech on Wait for Me »

Guest Post: Carmela A. Martino on Pulling a Novel From the Drawer & Playing By Heart

By Carmela A. Martino

If I’d known how long and difficult the path to publication would be for my new young adult novel, Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing, 2017), I might never have started down this road. The journey began when I set out to write a picture book biography of a little-known 18th-century female mathematician.

Long before entering the Vermont College MFA program, Continue Reading Guest Post: Carmela A. Martino on Pulling a Novel From the Drawer & Playing By Heart »

Author-Illustrator Video: Daniel W. Vandever on Fall In Line, Holden!

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Check out this author-illustrator interview video with Daniel W. Vandever on Fall In Line, Holden! by Tyler Mitchell from Salina Bookshelf. From the promotional copy:

Fall in Line, Holden! follows Holden, a young Navajo boy, through his day at boarding school.


Although Holden is required to conform to a rigid schedule and strict standards of behavior,

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Author Interview: Uma Krishnaswami on the Creative Life, Teaching Writing & Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Today we welcome author Uma Krishnaswami to discuss her new MG historical novel, Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh (Lee & Low, May 2017). From the promotional copy:

Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls’ team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on.

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Guest Post: Writing Across Gender Lines: Fiction that Appeals to Boys and Girls

By Yona Zeldis McDonough

I’ve alway thought of myself as a girly-girl writer. Although I’ve written bios for kids that appeal to both boys and girls—many of them in the popular Who Was series (Grosset & Dunlap) —my real love is girl-friendly stories. I like dolls—no fewer than five of my children’s books have had the words doll or doll house in the title—and all the girly stuff that goes with them.

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