Author Q&As

Questions and answers with some of our favorite authors.

Former Spy Mac Barnett on Snapchat, Crumpets, and His Explosive New Memoir

Most people know Mac Barnett as an acclaimed children’s book author responsible for titles like Triangle and The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. But his forthcoming memoir for young readers, Mac B. Kid Spy: Mac Undercover, divulges that he’s much more than that. The explosive revelation at the book’s center—that Barnett spied for the Queen of England as a child—is sure to set the literary world alight when the book is published this fall. We’re lucky enough to welcome Mr. Barnett to the shop on his memoir’s release date, September 11. In the meantime, slake your curiosity by reading our revealing Q&A with the international-superspy-turned-author.

(*Ed. note: Portions of the following conversation have been redacted by official government agencies. We're working with our legal team to declassify the material.)

Cover Reveal: THE HOME BUILDERS by Varsha Bajaj

Houston author and dear friend of the shop Varsha Bajaj is on some kind of roll. When she's not in the news for scoring an exciting #ownvoices publishing deal with Nancy Paulsen, she's penning delightful middle grade novels. And when she's not doing that, she's creating incredible picture books. Her next release in that last category is called The Home Builders, and it's hitting shelves on February 12. It's a beautiful story with beautiful illustrations, and we can't wait to help Varsha launch the book here at the shop in February. We're delighted to reveal illustrator Simona Mulazzani's gorgeous cover below. Bask in its loveliness for a minute or two, then keep scrolling to read our Q+A with Varsha. Then, pre-order your copy at the bottom of the page. Trust us on this one: It'll hold a special place on your shelf for a long time.

Samuel Miller on A Lite Too Bright, Family Ties, and Writing While Rocking

Samuel Miller has talent. That much is apparent to anyone who knows his rock band, Paradise Fears, which was a fixture of the iTunes Alternative Charts after the release of the album Battle Scars. But Sam doesn't stop there. Nowadays, he's writing beautiful literary YA novels in addition to making music magic—and he's got his eyes on other art forms, too. We asked Sam about all of this when we caught up with him for a quick Q&A; check out his answers to our questions below. And don't forget to swing by the store on Sunday, June 3 at 2:00 pm. That's when we're hosting Samuel for music, conversation, and a signing. His debut, A Lite Too Bright, is going to be a notable book in the YA season—don't miss it.

Katherine Center on Humor, Houston, and How to Walk Away

Houston native Katherine Center has been a staff favorite since, oh, pretty much the first moment we met her. We've adored each of her novels. But her latest, How to Walk Away, might be her best yet. Plus, it's an official selection on the May Indie Next List. Pre-order the book through our website to receive a signed copy, plus some exclusive swag. Then, set aside some time on the evening of May 17. That's when Katherine's stopping by to celebrate the new release.

While you wait (thirteen days and counting, as of this publication!), check out our Q&A with the author.

Now Batting for Team Edith: Denise Kiernan

You know us. We have a tendency to wax poetic about the power of a great novel, like Young Jane Young (watch for it in paperback!) or A Gentleman in Moscow (watch for it on your television!). But a good piece of nonfiction? Now that will really get us going. There's something extra magical about reading a propulsive tale full of complex characters and shocking plot developments—and knowing that all of it actually happened.

Author Denise Kiernan is a modern master of the nonfiction form—she's responsible for undisputed staff favorites like The Girls of Atomic City and The Last Castle. The latter of those two is celebrating its paperback release in May, and Denise herself is swinging by the shop on May 8 to share its story and sign copies. If you haven't read it already, do yourself a favor and snag a copy—you have just enough time to savor it before the event. If you have read it, well, we have a feeling we'll be seeing you there. In the meantime, tide yourself over by checking out our illuminating Q&A with Denise below.

Gail Honeyman on Eleanor Oliphant and What's Next

It's been well over a year since we first got hold of an ARC of Gail Honeman's debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. In the intervening months, the book flew from staff member to staff member, always accompanied by that most exciting of phrases: "You have to read this." It was a natural choice for our staff book club. And when it was published last May, we pressed it into as many hands as we could reach.

So it probably goes without saying that we're excited to welcome Gail to the shop on June 11. Seriously, friends, go ahead and circle your calendars now. We'll wait.

When you get back, check out these insightful questions and answers, courtesy of Pamela Dorman books. And if you haven't read it already, get ready to meet your new favorite novel.

Roshani Chokshi on Aru Shah, Writing for Middle Grade, and Hot Cheetos + Swedish Fish

Roshani Chokshi rocked the YA world when her debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, shot up the New York Times bestseller list upon its publication in 2016. Tabbed as an "author to watch" by Kirkus, she hasn't let her foot off the gas since. A Crown of Wishes, the follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen earned more starred reviews as it expanded Chokshi's fictional universe and doubled down on the original's clever nods to Indian folklore. Now, Chokshi is tackling a new challenge: Writing for middle grade readers. Her middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is the story of a twelve-year-old girl who unwittingly frees an ancient demon and has to journey through the Hindu Kingdom of Death. It was chosen to launch Rick Riordan's new publishing imprint, and it doesn't disappoint.

Don't miss Roshani when she visits the store on March 28—we're so jazzed to share this book with Houston readers. Learn more about this exciting young author by reading our Q&A below, then pre-order Aru Shah to reserve your spot in the signing line when Roshani comes to town.

Caldecott Honoree Brendan Wenzel on Illustration, Conservation, and Inspiration

Author and illustrator Brenden Wenzel, who was awarded a Caldecott Honor for his gorgeous picture book They All Saw a Cat, loves planet earth. You can sense that the moment you pick up one of his books—each of Wenzel's works, from his collaborations with other authors to his solo outings, shines with his awe of the natural world. That's especially true of Hello Hello, his latest picture book release, which celebrates the majesty and diversity of some of our planet's most critically endangered species. A staunch environmentalist, Wenzel is using his considerable skill to inspire kids and change the world.

We can't wait to welcome Brendan Wenzel to the store on Wednesday, March 21 to hear more about his process and inspiration. In the meantime, check out his thoughtful answers to our questions in our Q&A.

What's Cooking with Tim Miller

Here at the store, we almost always have a picture book circulating around our staff. Sometimes they make us think, like Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel. Sometimes they make us cry, like Love by Matt de la Peña. And sometimes they make us snort coffee through our noses and run to the back room, howling with laughter. Author and illustrator Tim Miller specializes in that last category. His books are zany, funny, and full of heart. He's a big hit with young readers, too—we're teaming up with Tim to visit a few Houston-area schools on April 3, and we can't wait to see their reactions to What's Cooking, Moo Moo?, his laugh-out-loud latest. Before we yuk it up with the youngsters, we caught up with Tim for a quick Q&A. Read on!

TBC Keynote Speaker Sabaa Tahir on Representation and Revolutions

Ever since An Ember in the Ashes was published in 2015, we've been hanging on every word written by Sabaa Tahir. (Look, any time an author is compared to JK Rowling, the first thing you do is run to the closest bookstore.) You can believe the hype. Tahir is a master storyteller at the height of her powers, and her propulsive Ember series is almost impossible to put down. Filled with compelling characters moving through a fantasy world that can bear an uncomfortable resemblance to our own, the Ember quartet is well on its way to "classic" status—and the third book doesn't even come out until June. Tahir is also a tireless advocate for representation in young adult literature, wearing her support for diverse stories on her sleeve—and on the beautiful covers of her bestsellers.

We can't wait to welcome Tahir to TeenBookCon on March 24, where she'll deliver the morning keynote address before appearing on panels with other fantastic authors and greeting fans at the end of the day. Go ahead and pre-register (it's free!) now, then come back and read our Q&A with the author below. 

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