In Their Own Words:

Interviews with Children's and Young Adult
Authors & Illustrators

Hacker – Hemphill

Sample these Author Profiles and Stories Behind the Stories, then follow the links to the full interviews.

Life As I Knew It"It is based on the true story of some dear friends of mine who lived up the hill from me in our small Vermont town: the father of the family suffered a stroke, was incapacitated and died, all within a year. I watched this family go through this and come out the other side better than they were when they went in. They pulled together. They took care of each other. They learned, I think, a deeper meaning of love."

— on LIFE AS I KNEW IT (YA)

The Found“My editor and agent began talking about contracts and publication dates. And I just sat there thinking, ‘What have I done? How am I ever going to carry this off?’

”My family came to my rescue. That night at dinner we were talking about my new series (which I was thinking of as, ‘random thought about babies on a plane that everyone thinks I'm going to be able to turn into a book. No--several books! Arghh!’)”

—on THE FOUND (MG)

I hear a lot from parents who tell me, “I couldn’t get my kid to read until he read one of your books, and now he’s reading like crazy” or from kids who tell me, “I used to hate reading, but now, because of your books, I love it,” or from kids/teachers/parents who tell me specific examples of how specific aspects of my books have helped specific readers navigate real life.

“And all of that seems like the truest definition of writing success.”

—on Career Building


Prince of Underwhere by Bruce Hale"...And when I wrote that, I knew the gecko would not be denied."

— on the CHET GECKO series (MG)

author update: Bruce Hale

Bruce Hale on the UNDERWHERE series

 

 

Dark Water Rising
"I'd read many articles over the years about the devastating Texas hurricane that took more than 8,000 lives, but never one written while wounds were still tender, while wind and floodwaters still haunted dreams."

—on DARK WATER RISING (MG)

 

 

Wild Dogs“Oddly enough, my editor Tanya Dean had to slam on her breaks driving to work in Ohio one day because a wild dogey — a coyote she thought — ran across her path. She called me and said, ‘I think we should do a book about wild dogs.’”

— on WILD DOGS: PAST & PRESENT (PB)

 

Millie's Remarkable Journey
“…finally, my own motto: Don't let the plot drag. That doesn't honor God.”

— on Writing Christian and Trade Fiction


Super Goofballs bookjacket
“It's about a superhero kid (Amazing Techno Dude) and his crazy-but-loving superhero grandma (the Bodacious Backwards Woman), who are flat broke and need to take in roommates. They end up taking in lots of borders---all ridiculous superheroes.”

—on the SUPER GOOFBALLS series (CB)


book jacket for Airball

“Oh, gosh, it took a long time to write AIRBALL. I started the story in 1998 and finished the first complete draft at the end of 2003.”

—on AIRBALL: MY LIFE IN BRIEFS (YA)

 

 

The Juliet Club “I was flying home from Italy, and I read an article in the airline magazine about an organization called The Juliet Club in Verona, Italy. For decades, volunteers have been answering letters from people who want love advice from Juliet. They get thousands of letters from around the world. This struck me as a great setup for a novel.”

— on THE JULIET CLUB (YA)


Georgraphy Club

"The subject matter made this project a very hard sell."

—on GEOGRAPHY CLUB (YA)

“It's really stressful, but on the other hand, I never got this much attention for, you know, writing a pretty good book!”

—on the banning of GEOGRAPHY CLUB

See also Brent on Career Building.

Author Update: Brent Hartinger

 

The Vanishing Point
“When I talk to a group about the genesis of THE VANISHING POINT, a lot of folks expect a dusty lecture on art history. What they get instead is a love story, and a juicy one at that!”

—on THE VANISHING POINT (YA)


Black Pears
“Initially, Houghton Mifflin, the publisher, was going to market it in both adult and YA catalogs, because of the sensual content and the dearth of happily-ever-after endings. But I think they realized that teens are more than ready for dark faerie material.”

—on BLACK PEARLS: A FAERIE STRAND (YA)

 

Mermaid
"Finally, I was inspired by a workshop at an SCBWI conference given by Paula Danziger on 'How to Be Seriously Funny.' One of Paula’s writing prompts launched me into the first few pages of what eventually became Mermaid Mary Margaret."

—on MERMAID MARY MARGARET (MG)

 

Shifty“I had several sources of inspiration: the words ‘shifty’ and ‘shiftless;’ a couple of characters bouncing around in my mind; the city of San Francisco; an old woman and her cat; my experiences years ago working at a summer camp with children and youth in foster care; and the universal need for home.”

—on SHIFTY (YA)



Nothing but the truth
"Surreal, isn’t it? I mean, just a few months before, I was writing groveling cover letters to editors, begging them to glance at my work, and now a bunch of them were vying for the same manuscript?"

—on NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES) (MG)

 

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers (book jacket)Joy Fisher Hein
(and Kathi Appelt):

 

"Kathi was upset. I was devastated!"

—on MISS LADY BIRD'S WILDFLOWERS:
HOW A FIRST LADY CHANGED AMERICA
(PB)

 

One Splendid Tree
“At a recent reading, when I came to the part about Hattie saving the brown paper from a package, an elderly gentleman in the audience called out, ‘I remember doing that!’.”

—on ONE SPLENDID TREE (PB)

Long Gone Daddy

"…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."

—on LONG GONE DADDY (MG)

 

Deadwood Jones“The book took about 18 months of research. I actually drove the route of the cattle drive (in a car, not a wagon!), visited Deadwood, and tried to envision for myself what the landscape of 1876 might have looked like.”

--on THE ADVENTUROUS DEEDS OF DEADWOOD JONES (MG)

 

Stonewall Hinkleman“Suffice it to say, he gets an attitude adjustment and comes to a better appreciation of the war. Oh yeah, and he meets a girl along the way...and his great-great-great-great uncle, who turns out not to be the coward of family lore...and an evil Confederate reenactor who has also gone back in time to help the South win.”

—on STONEWALL HINKLEMAN AND THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN (MG)