I just finished transcribing the interview. I had a great time, and think Part 3 might be the best! I really enjoyed learning that she likes The Goose Girl.


Do you keep all of your writing?

It’s all in the computer.

What was it like getting the Newbery Medal?
They call you- the whole committee is on the phone cheering. It is amazing. Just amazing. I was walking on air. They were cheering that I was a full-time writer, they were cheering that I got the award. We were all so happy. And it’s a life-changing experience. Winning a Newbery changes everything. At least it did for me.

Do you think people treat you differently now?

Well, it’s just I’m not sure that Ella would have been made into a movie if not for that. I get invited to schools because of it. Kids just know about my books. They know me because so many schools order my books. It builds. So, yes. Yes, yes, people do treat me much differently.

Do you enjoy meeting and talking to kids?
Oh, yeah! I love to meet kids. I do, I do. If I could do it without ever having to go into an airport, that would be better. That’s the only part I really don’t like.

Do you read mostly fantasy or do you enjoy other genres?

I read a fair amount of adult poetry. I just finished Tasting the Sky. It’s a Palestinian memoir, a young adult book. It’s wonderful. I’m reading The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I’m enjoying the first of hers so much. I read a wide variety of things.

Do you enjoy history at all?
I don’t seek out so much non-fiction, but I did read- Have you read Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World? That is so fabulous. It’s about the Shackleton expedition to south pole, the Antarctic. It’s by Jennifer Armstrong. It is un-put-downable! That’s historical fiction and it’s fabulous.

Have you ever abandoned any work?
I have not. I do have one novel that I finished, but to be published, I would have to go back and revise it a lot, which I haven’t done.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a third book for Disney on the fairies of Neverland. I don’t know if you know Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg… they’re for a little younger. Also, I’m working on Fairy Mean poems, which I hope will be one or two picture books of very mean poems. Those I can just write when I’m walking down the street or when I’m in the shower. They’re very short. I am under contract with Harper for two more fantasies. That’s what I am to do next.

Is there a fairy tale that you would really enjoy retelling?
I’ve thought about Puss in Boots. I don’t know if I can do it, but that has a lot of appeal to me. Such a fun story.

Are you going to write any more books set in the world of Ella and Fairest?
Nothing has come to me. I don’t know.

What book do you like best of the ones you have written?

Maybe Dave at Night. If you like historical fiction, you’ll like it. The history about the Harlem Renaissance is accurate. The history about the orphanage is mostly made up. It’s about a boy who’s sent to an orphanage to live, and my father grew up in an orphanage. My father wouldn’t talk very much about that, so after he died I wrote Dave. I was thirty eight when he died and a few years later I started writing Dave to tell myself the story of his childhood.

Are you considering writing any other non-fantasy books?

I have in mind that I could write another Dave book. He has a friend named Alfie. I don’t know.

When did you start writing?
I wrote as a kid. Then I stopped. I started writing seriously for kids in 1987. It took me nine years to get published. I got a ton of rejections. I started sending things out right away. I was mostly writing picture books. Dave was a picture book, and an editor asked me to expand it into a novel. When I expanded it, I discovered that I’m a novelist. Her rejected it, but I’ve always been grateful to him for getting me started.

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