Jennifer Ziegler photographed by Sam Bond.
Jennifer Ziegler, whose writing has been praised for its quirky and dimensional characters, says she’s always been an observer of people. “I grew up in a smallish town; I got nuggets of back story on everyone around me, which…translates well to storytelling,” she says. “Sometimes I believe I’ve pulled a character out of thin air only to realize later on that they’re actually very similar to someone in my past.”
In Revenge of the Flower Girls (a ...
Varian Johnson photographed by Kenneth B. Gall.
Varian Johnson wrote his fast-paced and funny story The Great Greene Heist while maintaining his day job as a civil engineer. “A lot of folks have dual passions. I’ve always believed you can do one thing and another thing well, if they complement each other. For me, the engineering world and the writing world complement each other very well. I’m exercising one part of my brain during the day and one part at night.”
The Great Greene Heist (in ...
Kirkus' Children's & Teen Editor Vicky Smith
“You can’t control who is going to pick up your book.”
I often point this out when I receive complaints from authors or publishers that one of our reviews didn’t “get” their books. It’s true: No matter how specifically an author or publisher envisions a potential audience, in the end, despite marketing and publicity, they can’t control who is going to buy it or check it out and then read it.
When it comes to assigning a book for ...
Author of I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD
Paul Acampora photographed by Adam B. Atkinson.
Caffeine is in high demand when I walk into a West Village coffee shop to meet Paul Acampora. A dozen uniformed New York City firefighters are lined up around the counter and suddenly my scale of need for an Americano has gone from indifferent to desperate. How long is this line going to take? Will they run out of my favorite roast? Is the FDNY going to stake claim on every last packet of raw sugar before I can even ...
Author and Illustrator of ALL DIFFERENT NOW
As author Angela Johnson's mother awaited a kidney transplant, she traced the family's history as a hobby. Looking through the records, Johnson says she was struck by the way slave owners stripped African Americans of their identities in subtle and overt ways, including in the paperwork of the 1880s her mother uncovered. "The devastating part was there was no name," she says. "You're in an entire population of people who have just become numbers. What would it ...
Our Children's and Teen Editor Reads Rush Limbaugh
The contemptuous disregard is astounding.
That’s the conclusion I came to after reading Rush Limbaugh’s first book for children, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, and its just-published sequel, Rush Revere and the First Patriots. I decided to tackle them after the children’s-literature world went ballistic at Limbaugh’s nomination for Children’s Choice Award Author of the Year. Watching the controversy unfold, it was clear to me that virtually none of the hand-wringers had actually read Limbaugh’s book about a ...
Authors of Saving Lucas Briggs
Marisa de los Santos and David Teague photographed by Leigh Minor.
If choosing a new hue for the bathroom walls can test the strength of even the most solid marriage, writing a collaborative book could be the literary equivalent of undertaking a complete gut rehab. Joining forces with a spouse on a novel might result in a fine piece of literature, but remaining on speaking terms post-publication is questionable. When I talk to Marisa de los Santos and David Teague about their middle-grade novel Saving Lucas Biggs, they don’t sound like ...
What makes a phenomenon?
Jeff Kinney photographed by Jonathan Beckerman.
As the first-ever Wimpy Kid Month slogs its way to its epic climax on April 28 with the reveal of the title and color of the next volume in Jeff Kinney’s wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, it is probably worth spending some time to reflect on what can legitimately be called a phenomenon.
Launched in 2007 with the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the series was initially planned to comprise three volumes. An adaptation of Kinney’s ...