In Their Own Words:

Interviews with Children's and YA
Authors & Illustrators

Salisbury - Slade

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

Blue Skin of the Sea
“I guess I was most like Sonny in BLUE SKIN OF THE SEA. He may have been a little smarter than I was, but he essentially came from me. Yeah, Sonny. That's me.”

— on BLUE SKIN OF THE SEA (MG)

 

Rainbow Boys

“I think the critical and popular success of RAINBOW BOYS is indicative of the increasing acceptance of and demand for gay and lesbian related children's and young adult literature.”

— on RAINBOW BOYS (YA)

 

author update: Alex Sanchez

 

A Map of the Known World“I really didn't want to write a book about grieving and death. But I really felt compelled to tell this story, so I just plugged away at it. I think I had some kind of psychological or emotional block, though--I didn't want to keep being reminded of my own loss. I tempered this with the romance, which was very fun to write!”

—on A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD (YA)


Alec Flint“When I'm in full swing with a manuscript, I try to write a little bit every day--two pages is my goal--and that doesn't change if I'm speaking at conference or answering interview questions online or doing school visits. I make sure to remember that without the writing, there's no reason to do the rest of the stuff.”

—on ALEC FLINT: SUPERSLEUTH (CB)


Stars Beneath your Bed

"This is probably my favorite text I have ever written. I thought it would never get published. It was rejected 53 times over 7 years."

— on STARS BENEATH YOUR BED: THE SURPRISING STORY OF DUST (PB)

 

A Sock is a Pocket
"I was dressing my daughter--singing to her as she kicked on the changing table--and I heard myself say, "A sock is a pocket for your toes." And then I thought, it is! It's a pocket! The concept became an obsession for me; the world is teeming with metaphoric pockets."

—on A SOCK IS A POCKET FOR YOUR TOES (PB)


An Island Grows
"Frustration ran high while writing this text. I could only work on it for a few days at a time before I would hit a roadblock. I would then slide it back into the file cabinet and bring it out a few weeks later. The story nagged at me, but I was never sure that I could pull it off."

— on AN ISLAND GROWS (PB)

 

The History of Counting
"I had the privilege to study archaeological material that revealed 1) how writing was first invented in Sumer, present day Iraq, ca. 3000 BC and 2) how counting had evolved over 10,000 years."

— on THE HISTORY OF COUNTING (PB)

 

Goy Crazy
"When that essay came out, it was called, "The Joys of Goys." And it got a lot of attention--angry letters from rabbis, marriage proposals from prison inmates--and one letter from a literary agent named Steven Malk, who was also just starting out."

—on GOY CRAZY (YA)

 

I heart you
“It's a novel-in-verse about a fifteen-year-old girl, Ava, whose boyfriend dies and comes back to live in her house as a ghost. More than a ghost story, however, I believe it's a story of love, loss, healing, and hope.”

—on I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME (YA)


Winnie
"I wanted to write about my dog, Winnie, who is enormous, enormously spoiled, and could practically dictate her stories to me. I hoped that kids would find lots of humor in a book about a spoiled dog, and indeed they do."

— on WINNIE PLAYS BALL and WINNIE ALL DAY LONG (CB)

 

Twins
"TWINS! Was one of those publishing phenomenons—I was actually asked to write it."

— on TWINS! (PB)

 


Secrets
“As primarily a nonfiction author, I had to keep telling myself it was okay to make things up! But because it was a historical novel, and some of the characters were real people—Picasso, Fernande, Apollinaire, Max Jacob—to name a few, I was determined to be as careful with their words as possible.”

—on SECRETS OF THE CIRQUE MEDRANO (MG)


Stealing Heaven“The only problem was, what could they steal? I didn't want them robbing banks or anything like that, and after reading an article about someone who'd tried to steal antique silver, I thought "huh." It was just such an unusual thing to steal, and the more I thought about it, the more it felt like it was the right thing for my two thieves to chase after.”

—on STEALING HEAVEN (YA)

“I'm drawn to writing about characters in trouble--I always have been. All of us have our dark moments, all of us have pain, and we try so hard to pretend it away. We pretend we don't see others' pain.

Something MaybeLove you Hate you”And that fascinates me, because the more you try to hide your hurt, the deeper it grows. It can become all you are.”

—on SOMETHING MAYBE (YA) and LOVE YOU HATE YOU MISS YOU (YA)


To Catch a MermaidSaving Juliet“What is different? Middle graders are all about adventure. They believe anything is possible. And so writing fantasy for them is the ultimate fun ride. Teens want an element of romance, which is always the most difficult part of the story for me to write.”

—on TO CATCH A MERMAID (MG) and SAVING JULIET (YA)


Cirque du Freak
"Predominantly, though, it's about adventure. It also focuses strongly on family and friendship, and what happens when you lose people close to you, or are betrayed by someone you thought of as a friend. That's why I get far more letters and emails from readers saying they're cried reading my books than saying they've had nightmares!"

—on the CIRQUE DU FREAK series (MG)

 

I'll pass for your comrade“We know so little about each of these women, individually. So I needed to find a way to tell about their experience, using snippets from each of their lives.

“Research was wonderful, but with any project of this duration there are always the dark moments. Three and a half years into the book I was just about to write Dinah and tell her I would send back the advance. And then, it occurred to me how I needed to organize each chapter.

“Three weeks later I sent her the draft that she accepted.”

—on I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: Women Soldiers in the Civil War (MG)

Shoe Bop“Funnily enough, when I started working on the book, my husband and I began to take ballroom/Latin dance lessons (which we're still doing!), and I bought my first pair of dance shoes with special suede soles for moving easily on the floor. That helped me understand shoe shopping the most.”

—on SHOE BOP! (PB)


Fatal Charm
"When Llewellyn expressed interest in this series idea, I read psychic biographies and learned most psychics are born with the gift. So I tossed out everything and started over with Sabine Rose. I based her loosely on psychics I'd researched but mostly she felt like someone standing next to me sharing her story."

—On THE SEER series (YA)

 

Dead Girl Walking“I was curious what it would be like to live someone else's life. Also I've always had a fascination with otherworldly topics like astral projection, psychics, and near-death experiences.”

—on DEAD GIRL WALKING (YA)

See also Linda Joy on Career Building.

Monsterology
"I have always enjoyed watching the classic monster movies and reading the books, so to write interviews and bio's about them was like meeting a bunch of friends for drinks (friends who drink blood, that is)."

— on MONSTEROLOGY (PB)