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Interview with legendary children's book author Jane Yolen

Legendary children's book author Jane Yolen
Legendary children's book author Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen, often called "the Hans Christian Andersen of America" (Newsweek) is the author of well over 335 books (she has lost count), including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL'S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. Her work has won an assortment of awards--two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, the Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the 2012 du Grummond Medal, the Smith College Alumnae Medal. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates.

Henry: I’d call you the Leonardo da Vinci of American literature. Damn! Just, damn.

For what age audience do you write?

All ages, all genres except hard science. (Though I have written a lot of Natural Science.)

Tell us about your latest book.

These three books are my latest: ‘How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad’ (Scholastic), ‘The Hostage Prince’ (middle grade fantasy, first book in the Seelie Wars Trilogy, Viking), and ‘Sister Fox's Field Guide to Writing’ (adult poetry collection for Unsettling Wonder).

Henry: Indeed, Apatosaurus anger management was a literary niche waiting to be filled. Well played.

What do you hope readers will get from reading those books?

Enlightenment, entertainment, and an appreciation for poetry.

Henry: My poor poetry-writing ability is limited to limericks involving the word “Nantucket.”

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Getting editors to get back to me!

Henry: Hah! Well, editors are notoriously overworked. And with over 300 books under your belt, something tells me anyone would have trouble keeping up with you.

What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being a writer?

Never give up, revise, and keep my BIC (butt in chair).

Henry: For those not familiar with the term, BIC refers to focusing on doing the writing. Technically, if you prefer to write while standing or bathing, that is also acceptable.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Getting letters from children and grownups saying that my stories and poems and essays had changed their lives.

Henry: If only we could have gotten Vladimir Putin to read ‘How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad?’

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

If you give up at the first rejection or the first bad review, you will never make it in publishing.

Henry: A writer must be thick-skinned. Like the Ankylosaurus!

Read the complete interview at Henry's blog on KidLit, Sci-fi and fantasy.

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