Interview with Tanya Lee Stone
Tanya Lee Stone has published an enormous number of nonfiction books and has won the Sibert Award among others. You can visit her website here.
What drove/inspired you to get started?

I was an editor for more than a dozen years and always wanted to write for kids.

Do you have any specialized training?

I have a Bachelors degree in English and a Masters in Science Education, which helps for certain topics.

Has this been something you've always wanted to do?


Did you have any misconceptions in the beginning about the whole book process?

I'm sure I had a ton of misconceptions, although I can't remember them all now that they've (hopefully) been replaced with realistic expectations. I certainly wasn't aware of how much an author needs to approach having a career as a business, as opposed to only spending your time writing and hoping for the best. Being educated about the industry is crucial.

How would you describe your work? What's the most important thing you'd like others to get out of it?

Right now, my work is changing quite a bit, as I'm sure is true for most people who write for any length of time. I have done a lot of thoroughly researched, straightforward nonfiction for kids and am now getting more creative in my approach to topics--both nonfiction and fiction.

Describe your relationship with your editor (art director if applicable).

I have more than one publisher; hence, more than one editor relationship. I approach these relationships as I would with any other human being. I stay true to what's important to me with any given issue while being open to suggestions, friendly, and reasonable. I approach any book project as a team effort, one in which not only the author and editor are integral players, but also the illustrator, art director, marketing and sales people, etc. Most of the time, everyone's goal is the same--to end up with the best book possible.

How do you most often communicate with your publisher--e-mail, phone, or snail mail?

I prefer email.

What books do you have in the works now?

I have a new 9-book animal series I'm just starting to work on, as well as a large 30-book animal series that will be out late summer 2003. I also have a Christmas alphabet (rhyming) book out this Christmas and an upcoming biography of Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut who died on the Columbia space shuttle.

What's the best thing about publishing a book? What's the worst?

The best thing is having the most fun in the world doing exactly what you want to be doing and getting paid for it! The worst thing..I can't really say that there is a worst thing. Maybe having a book canceled that's already been finished!

Any last words of encouragement for beginners?

Absolutely. Pursue the dream. Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Then take that chance and SUBMIT!