Meg Medina Interview, and Congratulations on the Ezra Jack Keats Award!

 Meg Medina is one of my new favorite authors.  If you haven’t read her work, you’re missing out.  Today, she’s receiving the Ezra Jack Keats award for her picture book, TIA ISA WANTS A CAR.  Read her interview here.  Congratulations, Meg!!
She also wrote a middle grade novel, MILAGROS, GIRL FROM AWAY, also not to be missed, but her latest novel for young adults (and equally enjoyed by adults, I suspect) is THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, which just came out last month (Candlewick, March 2012).  I love using her first lines in my school visits as an example of setting mood and using a hook — here’s the first line of the prologue and of chapter one:
Prologue:  “The curse on Sonia Ocampo’s life came without warning before she was even born, cleverly disguised as good luck.”
Chapter One:  “The train whistle did not sound through the valley the day Ernesto Fermin’s men found Luis.”
And here’s a one line description that says it all:  With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strong-willed, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.

Read more about Meg’s books here.  And there’s a great Discussion Guide for THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, too.

Now, let me give you a chance to get to know more about Meg — read on!

Tea or coffee?  Flavor?  Milk or sugar?

Coffee by far. (Hazelnut or chocolate-anything. No sugar, some milk.)

I only drink herbal tea when I have a head cold or when I’m trying to sleep.

Favorite season?

I love summer almost as much as I did when I was a kid– and for the same reasons. I like the long days, fireflies, the beach, and eating hamburgers outside. Mosquitoes are the only downside I can see.

Can you deal better with wind or rain?

I love the wind so much. It feels mysterious and powerful to me. Rain, on the other hand, makes my hair pouf out and soaks my shoes. Yuck.

Favorite comfort food?

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

Ideal vacation?

Generally, I love a beach, a book, and sunshine. That is the most restful for me. However, I really want to travel, so I’d like to have three months, a passport, and a guide to Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.

Favorite sport or form of exercise?

I love to exercise in the morning as a way to start the day. I do some of everything except running. In fact, I despise running. With each step, I keep saying, I hate running, I hate running, ow, I hate running.

Language in which you’d most like to be fluent.

I’d like to read and write Spanish better than I do now. I’d love to be able to speak Italian, too.

Country you’d most like to visit.

I’m not particular if I can have access to a bathroom and clean water…and a reasonable amount of personal safety. Every new experience is worth having.

Skill you’d most like to acquire.

Writing funny children’s books. Why can’t I find my funny bone in writing? ¿Por que? It is a mystery.

Favorite musical instrument.


You’re going on a book tour:  Plane, train or automobile?

Train! It’s so hypnotic and romantic.

Topic you think most needs writing about:

Stories of kids whose parents are suddenly deported. It happened to 46,000 families according to the latest reports from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Suddenly, these kids find themselves part of the foster care system or left to friends or relatives. It’s a crime against childhood in my book.

Author you’d like to meet.

Sandra Cisneros who wrote The House on Mango StreetWoman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, and Caramelo among others.

Question you’d ask that author.

My guess is that I would be too star-struck to speak. I would just want to listen to her read. Her voice in writing is so powerful and sure; I’d love to hear it, too.

What most surprises you about our current culture?

How fashionable it has become to be anti-intellectual. When did having brains or knowing about the bigger world become a character flaw?

Some favorite books?

So many!  This year: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness; The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; The Queen of Water by Laura Resau; Breadcrumbs Ana Ursu. Generally: anything at all by Sonya Hartnett, Kevin Henkes, Kathy Erskine, and Cornelia Funke.

Some favorite movies?

Family friendly would be Big Fish; Hugo; Up; and Juno. I really like foreign films, too. I know subtitles are a pain, but these films have a whole different rhythm and look. For example, the characters look like real people, not supermodels. Cars don’t have to blow up, either. Some of my favorites: Bread and Tulips, (Italian); Amelie (French) Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexican): Persepolis (French).

Next project: 

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind will publish in the UK in June.

I’ve launched a community project in the book’s honor. It’s called The Hope Tree Project. High school kids from all over my city were asked: “What is a dream you have for yourself?” They worked with their art teachers to create milagros or prayer charms to show their answer. We’re decorating five trees at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens with their work. Everybody should come see the exhibit! All those hopes and dreams fluttering in the trees! It’s going to be magical.

Yes, magically real, just like Meg’s books!  Thanks for joining us, Meg!  Now I think I’ll go read THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND again, since I can’t wait for your next book.  :o)  Here’s the UK cover of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND — also very cool!



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6 responses to “Meg Medina Interview, and Congratulations on the Ezra Jack Keats Award!

  1. Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

    What a wonderful interview between two such talented writers! Meg, as a former ELD teacher, there is no subject that interests me more than the issue of immigration. Your comment about the number of children who survive their parents deportation in foster care astounded me. On a lighter note, so did the comment that you would like to write funny picture books! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. What a great interview – fun and informative. I had no idea that 46,000 children were separted from their parents through deportation last year. Horrendous. The Hope Tree Project sounds amazing. Thank you, Kathy and Meg!

  3. THis is now the second time I’ve heard “Tia Isa wants a car” recommended–got to read that book. Thanks for this great post and the first few sentences. YOu have me hooked!

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