A Q & A About Writing, Reading and Storytelling with Author Carmen Agra Deedy

Award-winning children's book author Carmen Agra Deedy is scheduled to deliver the opening keynote at Scholastic Education's 2016 Reading Summit on February 14th. In anticipation of that event, we asked her a few questions about her stories, her writing, and what she's reading right now!

Carmen Agra Deedy is best known for her beloved children’s books, which include The Library Dragon, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach and the New York Times Bestseller, 14 Cows for America. An award-winning author and storyteller, Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for the TED Conference, the Library of Congress, and Columbia University. She is also the host of the four-time Emmy-winning children’s program Love That Book! Most importantly, Deedy spends much of the year traveling across North America and the Caribbean performing for children. They remain, unapologetically, her favorite audiences.

What kinds of stories bring you the most joy?

I love stories about people on the edges of things -- villages, families, their own minds. And I love when these border-dwellers find their way back again -- to their villages, their families, their own minds. When I can help a character get home again, that brings me joy.

I began my childhood as a refugee; I no longer fight the fact that themes of home and family will likely always wend their sneaky way into my plots.

What do you hope people will take away from your work?

I hope readers enjoy the time they spent with one of my stories. And if they are left with a sense of the world being a little bigger, a mite kinder, a trifle funnier––I am a happy writer indeed.

What are you reading now?

Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z by Col. Percy Fawcett

One of a handful of books found on Ernest Hemingway's desk after his death. Fawcett has been credited as the real man behind the legendary Indian Jones. His son published his papers some years after Fawcett disappeared on a final, fateful, expedition to the Lost City of Z.

The Woman in Battle by Loreta Janeta Velazques

A book published by a Cuban woman dressed as a Confederate soldier in order to follow her Southern husband into battle. She claimed, among other things, to have fought at Bull Run. She wrote this book to tell of her many exploits.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for outrageous true stories.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read. Read everything that falls into your hands that even remotely interests you.

It will come in handy one day.

Learn. 

Learn anything anyone wants to teach you that has merit. Learn to change the oil, knit, shoe a horse, write code, make a souffle.

It will come in handy one day.

Live.

Live your life -- don't just exist. Live it fully and don't miss a nano-second.

It'll all come in handy one day.

The day you decide to become a writer.