In Their Own Words:

Interviews with Children's and YA
Authors & Illustrators

Yansky - Zimmer

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

Wonders of the World"I worked at the University of Texas for a while and I used to see this group of street kids getting up in the morning in a park across from campus. There were a lot of them some mornings, and some of them were very young. I wondered what their stories were. I thought about my own youth when, for a time, I hitchhiked around the country. When I was passing through cities, I sometimes stayed in the same places as street kids did.

"Even back then there were kids living on the street. I decided that I wanted to tell a story about a teen who ended up on the street and his struggle to find a way off it."

—on WONDERS OF THE WORLD (YA)

Ten Little Mummies


“My editor, wise one that she was, indicated that ‘The little mummies are already dead to begin with, stupid,’ so why bother killing them off?”

— on TEN LITTLE MUMMIES (PB)

 

A Pirates Night Before Christmas“It began with questions like: How would pirates celebrate Christmas? Answer: They were too mean to be rewarded by Santa Claus, so they needed a new icon of holiday celebration--one that's a Davey-Jones-like Pirate Claus.”

—on A PIRATE’S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (PB)


Millicent Min
“The book went through massive changes, including throwing out all the plots, but one thing remained true and ended up in the final version. The MC was lonely.”

— on MILLICENT MIN (MG)

 

Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons

“[W]e still wanted to keep it set in a real ancient world. Not like ‘Xena’ and ‘Hercules’ on TV where the writers mix and match stone/iron/bronze age with great abandon. So we read archeological texts as well as ancient history texts, books about ancient clothing and food and the like.”

—Jane Yolen on HIPPOLYTA AND THE CURSE OF THE AMAZONS (MG)

Author update: Jane Yolen.

Quilt of States"The fact that my medium is fabric, added to the interest but also the challenge of illustration. I had collected thousands of "conversational" prints which are any fabrics that depict objects (cows, pigs, tomatoes) in order to NOT replicate a cow or pig or a tomato! We do have a lot of cows in this country but I did not want to picture the same symbol in each state that had them."

— on QUILT OF STATES: PIECING TOGETHER AMERICA (PB)

Beyond the Great Mountains
"Challenge yourself to resist shortcuts and complacency or to fall prey to trendy books. Anything worth making deserves your best effort. The richness is in your spirit, not in your pocket."

— on BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS (YA)

 

“By July, after many failed attempts to recover the art, I decided to start anew. All of my preliminary sketches and collage materials had been discarded in April. It was a miracle that I was able to condense two years of work into two months.

“What's more, the second version was superior by far.”

—on WABI SABI (PB)

Tales of the Cryptids"I read that there is an area of the Congo larger than the state of Florida that has not be explored yet because it's so remote, so harsh a landscape. The local peoples tell of giant snakes and dinosaur-like creatures living in the swamps of this region, creatures with plates on their backs, thick legs, horns, and some that fly."

—on TALE OF CRYPTIDS:
MYSTERIOUS CREATURES THAT MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST
(PB)

Story of a Girl

"During the writing of the book there were challenges going on in my own life that turned out to be remarkably similar to Deanna's. Telling her story became a way to help myself through that time. I missed the comfort of that when it was finished."

—on THE STORY OF A GIRL (YA)

 

Once was Lost“I learned (and continually learn) that the answers for the writing process are there in the work and in myself. Sometimes they're like frightened children, and beating the walls to get them to come out is counterproductive. I have to whisper and wait quietly and calmly.”

—on ONCE WAS LOST (YA)


Anyone But You"I'm very, very vigilant about making sure that every sex scene is there for a reason, and not just to shock people or whatever. So I walked a super-fine line when dealing with those scenes, trying to be certain that every word, every action served a specific purpose."

— on ANYONE BUT YOU (YA)

Alpha Dog

 

"It is a tale that is very close to my heart. It was inspired in large part by my late great doggie, Cutter. He was a stray I took in when I was in college—and could barely look after myself."

—on ALPHA DOG (YA)


 

How Not to Be Popular

“Over the years I've learned that when the muse visits, you have to drop everything and follow. If you wait until a better time, she won't be there and the idea will be fuzzy and stale.”

—on HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR (YA)


Reaching for Sun"I revised a dozen times over four years for different editors and houses who would eventually consider it ‘too’ quiet, poetic, ‘too’ something for publication. It finally found Melanie Cecka who started to turned it down but then called my agent back because she couldn't get Josie and Gran out of her head. She gently pulled the rest of the story out of me..."

—on REACHING FOR SUN (YA)

 

 

the floating circuls“When I read about the enormous, opulent boats that brought the circus to middle America through the rivers I knew it was a fabulous setting for a novel for kids.”

—on THE FLOATING CIRCUS (MG)