Author Q&As

Questions and answers with some of our favorite authors.

Jessica Brody Can't Sit Still

If we could describe Jessica Brody in one word, it would be “WOW!” Why? For starters, this powerhouse of an author released 3 books this year, has another 3 slated for 2018, plus a new sci-fi series due in early 2019. She was also one of 25 authors featured at this year’s Tweens Read Festival here in Houston, and has attended another handful of festivals to boot. In her own words, she “can’t sit still,” and it shows.

True to form, she responded within approximately 30 minutes with awesome answers when we reached out to her with questions earlier this month. Want to know what she’s reading? Why she loves writing multiple genres? How she produced those killer book trailers? Make like Jessica, and read on!

Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis on the Magic of Middle Grade

You may not know it, but you know Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Meloy is the lead vocalist and guitarist for popular indie rock outfit The Decemberists, while Ellis is a Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator. (She also supplies illustrations for the band.) They live outside of Portland, Oregon, on a farmstead, with their two young sons and a proliferation of fruit trees.

Wiley Cash Is Right on Time

You may have noticed a certain word picking up steam in the book world over the last year: Timely. To some extent, new books are always timely. They, like all art, reflect the culture of the day. But as society collectively sits up and confronts difficult issues, we've enjoyed an unprecedented run of feminist booksdiverse books, and books of social and cultural importance. One of the best? The Last Ballad, by staff-favorite author Wiley Cash.

You may already know Wiley from a pair of best-sellers that have long held a special place on the Blue Willow shelves. If you haven't read his work, we think it's high time you start. But don't take it from us—we caught up with Wiley for a Q&A to celebrate the publication of The Last Ballad, and he told us why he considers this book his most ambitious yet. Read on, then stop by the store to pick up your copy. You'll have just enough time to read it before Wiley visits us on the 25th.

Meet Liara Tamani, An Exciting New Voice in YA Lit

Get used to hearing the name Liara Tamani. The Houston author is poised to grab her share of literary headlines when her debut novel, Calling My Name, is released later this month. It's a beautiful, thoughtful story about a young girl discovering her identity, and Tamani's prose ebbs and flows with the grace and subtlety of poetry. The book is already earning critical raves, netting comparisons to the work of Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Cisneros, and Sharon Creech, among others. 

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Liara for a Q&A. Read on to learn her thoughts on inspiration, diversity in teen lit, and how it felt to see her book's cover for the first time.

The One and Only Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate won the Newbery Award in 2013 for her beautiful book The One and Only Ivan, a runaway bestseller and staff favorite here at the shop. Even if you missed Ivan (we know a way you can fix that), chances are you've read her work. Along with her husband, Katherine created the Animorphs and Making Out series in the 1990s. She's also responsible for a variety of picture books, chapter books for young readers, and novels for middle grade and teen readers. 

Her latest story is Wishtree, and it comes out later this month. Wishtree is sure to be another favorite—it's a beautiful tale of nature and friendship from an unexpected point of view. To celebrate its publication, we caught up with Katherine for a quick Q&A. Read about her writing process and inspiration below, then circle September 27th on your calendar—that's when we're hosting Katherine in the shop for a discussion and book signing. 

Get Inspired With Jennifer Mathieu

Jennifer Mathieu is a dear, dear friend of the shop, and her new book, Moxie, is one of the best YA novels in a very strong year. (Not to brag, but we're totally in the acknowledgements page.) Moxie is the story of Viv Carter, a strong, intelligent young woman who is slowly emboldened to find—and use—her voice. It's fierce, it's feminist, and it won over Cathy, our events coordinator, who says it "perfectly captures small town Texas and girl empowerment." How cool is Moxie? Amy Poehler's production company optioned it long before it was even published. It's that cool.

We're thrilled to be hosting the official Moxie launch party at the end of the month. Before you join us for music, food, and conversation, read our Q&A with Jennifer below and check out her previous books. We can't wait to see you at the party.

A Peek Inside the Villain-Loving Mind of Soman Chainani

Soman Chainani is the man behind the New York Times-bestselling series The School for Good & Evil. The six-piece fairytale saga has already been translated into 25 languages, and the fourth installment isn't even out yet. Better still, the first book will soon hit the silver screen, courtesy of Universal Pictures. Lest you think that the movie will be worse than the book (they usually are), worry not—Soman is co-writing the screenplay and has an MFA in film. SGE is in good hands.

We were delighted at the opportunity to ask Soman a few questions about his work. Read his answers below, then pre-order your copy of Quests for Glory on our website. (Or wait until it comes out on September 19, and pick it up in person.) Most importantly, mark your calendars for September 26—that's when Soman is visiting the store. He'll chat, answer questions, and sign copies of his new book. You don't want to miss it.

Alexandra Bracken On Magic, Prosper Redding, and Mountain Dew

Alex Bracken grew up in Arizona going to Star Wars conventions and discovering the "inherent magic in books." Now, she writes magical books – about Star Wars, among other things! Her latest effort, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, is a genuine delight. It's funny, it's spooky, and it's sure to take its place on the shelf alongside the works of Roald Dahl, Tamora Pierce, or Cornelia Funke. We're already looking forward to the sequel.

We were lucky enough to chat with Alex last month – read her Q&A below, then stop by the store for your copy of Prosper or order one online. And be sure to join us for a chance to meet Alex and have your book signed on September 19!

Mac Barnett On Picture Books, Medieval Poetry, and the Ineffability of Pigs

Mac Barnett has charmed kids and adults alike with his whimsical picture books. (And adults again with his wonderful TED Talk.) We can't wait to host Mr. Barnett in the store on September 19 – he's one of our favorite authors, and we absolutely love his new book. We caught up with Mr. Barnett for a quick Q&A earlier this month. Read on to wet your whistle, then pre-order Mac's new book, I Love You Like a Pig, before our event.

Gabrielle Zevin on Slut-Shaming, Feminism, and Young Jane Young

You've heard of Gabrielle Zevin. She wrote The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, a runaway best-seller and Blue Willow staff favorite, plus a host of other well-loved novels for teens and adults. Her new book, Young Jane Young, is whip-smart and seriously funny. It's also the perfect book club choice – much to consider lies within these pages.

We can't wait to welcome Ms. Zevin back to our store on September 9. She's a frequent visitor. This will be her fourth stop over the last four years, and we're utterly delighted to be the only bookstore to host Ms. Zevin on all four of her book tours.  

We caught up with Ms. Zevin earlier this month for a short Q&A about her new book. Read her thoughtful answers below, then swing by the store or place an online order for your own copy of Young Jane Young. After all, you'll need something good to read when Harvey hits us this weekend.

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