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Author News & Interviews

Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of FERAL CURSE

Feb 11, 2014

The second book in the Feral series, FERAL CURSE has been a long time in the making. Secondary characters from Cynthia Leitich Smith's earlier series, Tantalize, are thrust into the spotlight, Yoshi the werecat from FERAL NIGHTS plays a central (and steamy) role and a new werecat, Kayla finds herself in the middle of a disaster when a cursed carousel sends werepeople of all sorts to her small town of Pine Ridge, Texas. So what's it like to write a book when some characters have been lurking in Cynthia's head for 14 years, and others are brand new? What's the difference between writing a series and writing a stand-alone book? Cynthia answers these questions and more --- including how she decides which animal each shape-shifter turns into, the real-life inspiration for Pine Ridge and what readers can expect from the next Feral book --- in the exclusive interview, below. Read on! 

Interview: Kate DiCamillo, author of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Feb 10, 2014

There's no denying it --- Kate DiCamillo has one of the best "children's book author" resumes out there. She's written 17 children's books, has won the Newbery Award (more than once!) and was recently named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. In this interview, Kate tells us where she was when she found out she won the 2014 Newbery Award for FLORA & ULYSSES, what she wrote about as a child, a particularly amusing plane ride and her plans as National Ambassador. 

Interview: Len Vlahos, author of The Scar Boys

Jan 31, 2014

Len Vlahos's new book THE SCAR BOYS --- about a severely burned boy who finds solace in his punk rock band --- hits surprisingly close to home. The Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group was in a punk rock band in high school, Woofing Cookies, and eventually dropped out of NYU film school to reunite and tour. In this interview, he talks about how his own experience influenced THE SCAR BOYS, the power of music and some insight into his next project.

Interview: Marilyn Nelson, author of How I Discovered Poetry

Jan 21, 2014

An award-winning poet, Marilyn Nelson has written and translated more than 24 books and composed poems about a huge number of topics, including historical figures like Emmett Till and George Washington Carver, love, slavery and motherhood. Her latest collection HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY tackles a new theme --- the 1950s, the decade that Marilyn grew up. Comprising 50 poems, this book looks at Marilyn’s childhood but also delves into more universal themes, like the Civil Rights Movement, life for military families and the power of language. In this interview, Marilyn tells Teenreads the wonders of recipes published in 1950s magazines, her favorite poem in the collection and recommended books for teens who want to read poetry for the first time.

Interview: Steve Sheinkin, author of The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

Jan 21, 2014

Although award-winning children's nonfiction author Steve Sheinkin doesn't have an exact recipe when deciding what to write about, he says that he wants the story to be "dramatic and full of tension" and hopefully enlighten readers about a key moment in American history. His earlier works certainly fit the criteria --- he's written about everything from the atomic bomb to Lincoln's grave robbers --- and his latest book, THE PORT CHICAGO 50: Distaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights is no exception. Addressing the prejudice that faced African American soldiers during World War II, this fascinating story follows the events stemming from an explosion at the Port Chicago Navy base --- 300 sailors were killed, and 244 men refused to return to work until conditions improved. In this interview, Steve tells us a surprising fact about Jackie Robinson, how his work as a filmmaker influenced his writing style and the most memorable question that a student ever asked him.