New York Times bestselling author, Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, the novels Jazmin’s Notebook, Dark Sons, and The Road to Paris (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books). Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California. And make sure to check out her new novel, Planet Middle School. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
Would you rather publish a string of mainstream books or one classic?
If you could only write one more book, what would it be about?
It would be my memoir. By far, the most amazing story I have to tell is my own.
Do you begin with character or plot?
I’m definitely a character-driven writer. My characters speak, and I listen. They help to guide me to the center of the stories I end up telling about them.
Tell us about the book you’re working on.
Mum’s the word.
What is your favorite quote?
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:12-13. This covers all the bases.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Write, write, write. And read, read, read. Read deeply and broadly, and be patient with your writing. Writing a book is a process. It takes time. Don’t worry about the length, either. A book should be as long as it takes to tell the story—nothing more, nothing less.
What was the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
Eel, in China.
What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?
Welcome Precious, illustrated by Bryan Collier, nearly wrote itself. Bronx Masquerade, on the other hand, was a killer. The toughest part was writing poetry in the voices of my characters, without slipping over into my own voice.
Do you let anyone read your WIP?
I have a couple of trusted readers. I’m also part of an arts community where I’ve shared my work and received critique, for over 25 years. I very much rely on those extra pairs of eyes to help me catch what’s missing, or to see where my story has gone wrong.
In grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What initially drew you to writing?
Two things: my love of word play, and my need for a healthy outlet for an explosion of feelings I had no other way to share. Writing for me, in those early years, was therapy. As I matured, it became much more.