Browsing the archives for the interview tag.


  • From the Mixed-Up Files... > interview
  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter

    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Crystal Chan Interview and Giveaway

Interviews, New Releases

 

Crystal headshot, color

About Crystal:

Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the middle of the Wisconsin cornfields and has been trying to find her place in the world ever since. Over time, she found that her heart lies in public speaking, performing, and ultimately, writing. She has published articles in several magazines; given talks and workshops across the country; facilitated discussion groups at national conferences; and been a professional storyteller for children and adults alike. In Chicago, where Crystal now lives, you will find her biking along the city streets and talking to her pet turtle. Her debut middle-grade novel, Bird, is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She is represented by Emily van Beek of Folio Literary Management. Bird has also sold in Australia, the UK, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Romania. Also, Bird is out in audio book in the US, and the narrator is Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in The Hunger Games.

Bird cover

About Bird (From IndieBound):

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit–a duppy–into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe–just maybe–the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

 Bird is your debut novel. Can you tell us a little about its journey from idea to book?

I had just finished reading Keeper, by Kathi Appelt, and was sick at home from work. I had also finished my first manuscript and was fretting that I might not have another idea for another novel. Ever. I was thinking about this for hours, and finally I got so sick of myself that I said, Crystal, either you get up out of bed and write your next book, or you go to sleep because you’re sick. But you’re not going to lie in bed thinking about not writing your next book.

And then I started thinking more about Keeper, and how I loved that story; it’s about a girl who thought her mother turned into a mermaid and goes out to sea in search of her. And I thought, A girl who thinks her mother was a mermaid – that’s such a great idea – I wish I had thought of that! But what if… instead… there was a girl whose brother thought he was a bird, but then he jumped off a cliff because he thought he could fly … Then the voice of the protagonist, Jewel’s voice, started speaking and I got out of bed and wrote the first chapter.

Jamaican and Mexican cultures and beliefs play a prominent role in Bird, but seem very out of place in Iowa. What made you decide to introduce that culture clash?

There has always been a culture clash for me! (laughing) I’m half Polish, half Chinese, and grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. Navigating multiple cultures is the only thing I know. For example, my father, who is Chinese, demanded that I become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, and my mother, who is White, said I could be anything I want, which was also echoed by the larger American population. Of course, this was confusing and hard to navigate. Books that address culture clashes are out there but hard to come by, and I wanted to write a book for kids that might be experiencing them.

Do you believe in Duppies?

Possibly! :-)

What’s your favorite thing about middle-grade fiction (as a reader or a writer)?

The sense of story for middle-grade fiction has to be very, very strong. With adult literature, you can take your time on the page, show off your writing a little bit, and maybe twenty or fifty pages in you can start in the plot. If you give that same methodology to middle-grade kids, they’d chew you up alive. You need to have a strong story, a strong voice, and start it at the first line. I love that.

Why do you write middle-grade?

It’s the voice that came to me! My next WIP is for young adults, so we’ll see where my trajectory goes.

If there was one single thing that you wanted readers to get from Bird, what would it be?

The power of forgiveness can transform you and those around you in startling ways.

What other books do you recommend to readers who enjoyed Bird?

Bud, not Buddy, The Tiger Rising, The Underneath, A Wrinkle in Time. And don’t forget about Bridge to Terabithia!

What advice do you have for someone who wants to write middle-grade fiction?

Accept whatever emotions come up inside you – don’t push them down or ignore them, even if it’s uncomfortable. Because if you don’t allow yourself to feel anger, sadness, grief, or loss, how can you possibly write about these emotions for your characters?

And write from your heart, always. When you write, remember you’re writing from a special space inside, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And practice telling stories – tell stories all the time. When you’re not telling stories, practice listening to others tell their stories. Because that’s all that writing really is: telling a story.

Crystal is giving away a copy of the UK version of Bird (complete with all those weird UK spellings). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jacqueline Houtman  is the author of The Reinvention of Edison Thomas.

10 Comments

Courage and Civil Rights: An Interview with Tanya Lee Stone

Interviews, Nonfiction

On this day, many of us retell the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his speech, the bravery of Rosa Parks on the bus, and the students of Little Rock. But few realize that the seeds of the civil rights movement began during World War II.

courageIn Courage Has No Color, award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone tells the story of our nation’s first black paratroopers who integrated the army six months before Truman’s executive order calling for “equality of treatment and opportunity” in the military in 1948.

Tanya met Walter Morris, the sergeant who decided to train his men in the service company of the Parachute School as paratroopers. He wanted them “to act like soldiers, not servants.” Because of Morris’ leadership, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the Triple Nickles, was born.

At the end of the war, black and white servicemen had shared experiences that began a shift in society. “White Americans found it difficult to ignore the fact that they had been fighting Hitler while perpetrating atrocities and inequalities on their own black citizens—especially when those black citizens had done their part to unite in the fight against the same foe,” Tanya writes.

Courage Has No Color earned four starred reviews, was named Publishers Weekly Best Books 2013 and Kirkus Best Books of 2013, and received many honors, including the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award and NAACP Image Award Finalist. Tanya took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Tanya Lee Stone

MUF: This is an amazing story about the courage and patriotism of the Triple Nickles. You tell the largely hidden story of the Japanese balloon bombs, giving meaning to the firefighting these paratroopers did in 1945. Yet these paratroopers never went overseas to fight Hitler. Was it hard to write about that disappointment?

TS: Yes, it was. It was a tricky thing to piece together as well. There was a lot of disappointment and sadness involved with this story as well as pride and accomplishment, heroism and honor.

MUF: Sergeant Walter Morris was a true leader and, it seems, a storyteller. I was saddened to learn that he died in October 2013. Was he happy to see his story told?

TS: Oh, he was elated. And the book came out the day after his birthday, so he had it in his hands. I was on the phone with him during his birthday party and a lot of the Triple Nickles men were there, and we were all whooping and hollering. It was an honor and a joy to have gotten to know Walter these last ten years, and not only was he happy to see his story told, he was able to participate in that telling. I will forever be grateful for that.

MUF: This book began as a picture book, and it sounds like you resisted turning it into a longer work for middle grade readers. Can you talk about that decision?

TS: The phone call I received from Hilary Van Dusen at Candlewick came at a moment when I was probably more tired than I had ever been from writing. I had just finished The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie right on the heels of Almost Astronauts, with a picture book in between. Ashley Bryan had read the picture book version of Courage Has No Color and the praise he gave me bolstered my confidence. And did I mention I was tired? So when Hilary told me she wanted me to expand it to the scope of Almost Astronauts, I was resistant. We both agreed that I was tired, and I asked her for some time to think about it. Of course, my sister-by-choice, Sarah Aronson didn’t hesitate at all in reminding me that she had been telling me that for some time! Once I took a nap and thought about it some more, I knew most certainly it was the right choice.

MUF: One of the things children’s books do—and you do well—is to tell the truth, with room for hope. Was it hard to write your last chapter, “We will have a colorless society one day”?

TS: I don’t think I would characterize it as hard, and my research in that area didn’t surprise me, but it was certainly sobering. Of course, that is balanced by many of the forward steps our culture has taken. There is certainly room for great improvement.

MUF: You’re an award-winning writer of children’s nonfiction books. I know that takes a lot of research and firsthand interviews with amazing people. Tell us: Have you ever jumped out of a plane?

TS: Ha! I almost did—in college—but I chickened out! I will never forget what it felt like to climb to the Drop Zone and look out the door of that plane, though!

2 Comments

Interview with Kurtis Scaletta–and a giveaway!

Authors, Giveaways, Interviews

Kurtis Scaletta, one of the founders of From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, is the author of the middle-grade novels Mudville, Mamba Point, The Tanglewood Terror and, most recently, The Winter of the Robots. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called his latest book a “ripping yarn with a big heart and a lot of wit and invention,” and Kirkus Reviews called it “a deft mix of middle school drama and edgy techno thrills.” He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three-year-old son and a bunch of cats.

 

kurtis09-s

Welcome back to the blog, Kurtis. How does it feel to be a guest at your own party? 

Ha, thanks. I miss being a part of this blog.

Can you tell us a little about how From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors began?

Several middle-grade authors came together from the Verla Kay boards after a discussion about how middle-grade books just didn’t have the web presence of young adult books. We wanted to champion middle grade with a heavy focus on recommendations to teachers and parents. We’re still struggling to get visibility, for people to even know that middle grade is a thing, a unique and important genre of children’s book.

What’s your favorite thing about middle-grade fiction (as a reader or a writer)?

It was my favorite age as a reader, a real golden age, and writing middle grade allows me to keep delving back into that moment when I began to truly love literature and the idea of writing.

The Winter of the Robots  is such a fun read. How long did it take from first spark of an idea to finished book in your hands?

Thanks! This book took me quite a bit longer than my other books. It took about two years from starting it to putting the final dots and dashes on the I’s and T’s. A lot of that had to do with being a dad.

 

WinteroftheRobots

You do a great job of balancing the level of scientific detail so that it’s engaging and enlightening, without being overwhelming to the point of taking away from the human story. I especially enjoyed the concept of autonomous vs. remote controlled robots. What kind of research did you do? How did you decide how much detail to include?

I spent a lot of time reading up on kids robot competitions, watching videos of their battles, and so forth. I had two readers in the manuscript phase, one who built robots as a kid and one who coaches robot leagues.

How plausible are the robots in the book?

If anything the robots kids are really building are more complicated and imaginative. Of course the big robot requires a bit of suspended disbelief, but there’s nothing there that isn’t possible. It was really important to me that it’s clear to readers how the kids build the robots, where they get the parts and the machines and the mechanical expertise.

Your Minnesota winter setting makes me want to put on a sweater. Can you design a robot to shovel my sidewalk for me?

As soon as I finish ours! And the robots that was dishes, scoop cat boxes, change diapers – for that matter, the robot that potty trains reluctant little boys. Sadly, that’ll take a while since the only robot I’ve made doesn’t do anything but take a few steps and fall apart.

If there was one single thing that you wanted readers to get from The Winter of the Robots, what would it be?

You know, I want kids to finish this book and think, “I could do this.” If I find a kid read this book and is tinkering in the garage I’ll consider the book a success.

What other books do you recommend to readers who enjoyed The Winter of the Robots?

There are great books about realistic kids learning and exploring the worlds around them, like The Higher Power of Lucky and Every Soul a Star and The Reinvention of Edison Thomas.  I really like books that infuse realistic science into a book.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to write middle-grade fiction?

Write up, not down, as Mr. White said. You can have big ideas in books for middle-grade readers, moral ambiguity and complex language, hard-hitting topics and challenging questions. Don’t hold back. The kids can handle it.

Kurtis is giving away a signed copy of The Winter of the Robots. Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jacqueline Houtman is a big fan of science in novels (and in real life). 

18 Comments
« Older Posts