My mother was a single mom whose days were spent as a customer service rep at Con Edison in downtown Brooklyn.
I have a short attention span, so when one book isn't working out, I just work on another.
I'm usually working either on a picture book and a young adult book, or a middle grade book and a young adult book. When I get bored with one, I move to the other, and then I go back.
My writing is inspired by where I come from, where I am today, and where I hope to go some day.
The conscious imprinting that happens between, say, 10 and 16 is huge. I think it's so important for me as a writer to stay open to the memories of that period because they were so formative.
In writing 'Another Brooklyn,' I had to imagine what happens when friendships dissolve.
Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.
Readers are hungry to have their stories in the world, to see mirrors of themselves if the stories are about people like them, and to have windows if the stories are about people who have been historically absent in literature.
A 10-year-old knows a lot. If you think she or he isn't noticing the world around them, you're missing a lot.
I love playing with form. I love playing with sounds... I love music, and I love writing that has a musicality to it.
Being a Witness was too closed an experience. That's what I walked away from, not the things I believe.
I feel like I am walking in some amazing footsteps of writers who have come before me, like S.E. Hinton, Walter Dean Myers, Christopher Paul Curtis, Richard Peck and Kate DiCamillo, who I love.
'Another Brooklyn' came to me in this kind of dreamlike series of vignettes.
I still love Carson McCullers and Raymond Carver and Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.
To be poet laureate is to try to spread the love and the accessibility of poetry to young people.
People want to know and understand each other across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability.
I realized if I didn't start talking to my relatives, asking questions, thinking back to my own beginnings, there would come a time when those people wouldn't be around to help me look back and remember.
The strength of my mother is something I didn't pay attention to for so long. Here she was, this single mom, who was part of the Great Migration, who was part of a Jim Crow south, who said, 'I'm getting my kids out of here. I'm creating opportunities for these young people by any means necessary.'
The epistolary form is one of the hardest to write. It's so hard to show something that's bigger in a letter. Plus, you have to have the balance of how many letters are going to work to tell the story and how few are going to make it fall apart.
You can't have too many books featuring people of color, just like you can't have too many books featuring white people.
I read a lot of the books that I love again and again and again and try to understand how the writer did it.
I feel like I'm a New Yorker to the bone. But there is a lot of the South in me. I know there is a lot of the South in my mannerisms. There's a lot of the South in my expectations of other people and how people treat each other. There's a lot of the South in the way I speak, but it could never be home.
Young people are often ignored and disregarded, but they are acute observers and learners of everything we say and do.
Greenville, S.C., in the 1970s is a rolling green dream in my memory now.
I never know, when I start writing a story, what's going to happen, or how it will all get sorted out.
I didn't have any idea of what I was getting into by going away to college. And I was scared. I was scared of failing. I was scared of it not being for me because I was going to be one of the first people in my family to go off to college.
Childhood, young adulthood is fluid. And it's very easy to get labeled very young and have to carry something through your childhood and into your adulthood that is not necessarily who you are.
Who are you without your girls? I truly believe that. Who are you without the people who help you make sense of the misogyny, the racism, the economic struggle, all of it? You need those people saying you're a good mom, a great writer. You're a great dresser. You cook well. Whatever the beauty is that you need to hear.
I think there is much more queer visibility than there was when I was a kid. There is marriage, more trans visibility, and many more celebrities who are open about the sexuality. This was so not the case when I was a kid.
I think people are willing to talk about anything if you come to it with kindness.
Sometimes, when I'm sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing's coming to me, I remember my fifth-grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said, 'This is really good.'
I think it's so important that, if I'm writing about the real world, I stay true to it. I think that kids do compartmentalize, and they're hopefully able to see it from a safe place of their own lives and, through that, learn something about empathy.
Told a lot of stories as a child. Not 'Once upon a time' stories but, basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it!
By the time I was in fifth grade, I was dreaming of the Pulitzer Prize.
Friendship is such an important thing to me, and I feel like the people who I love and help keep me whole - I can't imagine a life without them.
Even after Jim Crow was supposed to not be a part of the South anymore, there were still ways in which you couldn't get away from it. And I think once I got to Brooklyn, there was this freedom we had.
If someone has something they're really passionate about, that's their brilliance, and my big question is how do we grow that passion/brilliance and/or help them grow.
I always say I write because I have questions, not because I have answers. It's true that you begin the conversation - that's the role of the artist. But it's not my job to tell us what to do next. I wish I had those tools.
People who are living in economic struggle are more than their circumstances. They're majestic and creative and beautiful.
Everything I write, I read aloud. It has to sound a certain way and look a certain way on page.
I think when I was a young person, there was just kind of - there was very little dialogue about it. And there was just kind of one way to be gay, right? You saw very effeminate guys. You saw very butch women. And there was no kind of in-between. And there was no - you know, there wasn't anything in the media. There wasn't anything on television.
There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends' eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying, but I didn't stop until fifth grade.
I've wanted to be a writer since I was seven, but I didn't grow up in family where people aspired to live as writers.
In the family, writing wasn't anything anyone understood - being a writer in the real world? How could it be? We didn't have those mirrors.
The writing that I have found to be most false is the writing that doesn't offer hope.
I love how much love there is in the world of young adult and children's literature.