What do 100 books look like? For author Tanya Lee Stone, who just recently finished her 100th book, it includes a wide variety of titles—from picture books to nonfiction to young adult novels. Color Has No Courage, her nonfiction account of America’s first black paratroopers, won an NAACP Image Award, while her picture book, Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors, was an NPR Best Book of 2013. The list goes on and on (and on!).
Girl Rising, due in 2016, is officially Stone’s 100th book, and is an adaptation of the movie. “I am expanding the content of that beautiful film to cover more ground and tell more stories in it than the medium of film would allow,” Stone said of the book. We can’t wait to see how many more books Stone writes in the coming years. In the meantime, we got the chance to chat with her about what it takes to write 100 books.
BookTrib: Most authors find it difficult to write one novel, let alone 100! Can you tell us a little more about your career and how you came to write so many books?
Tanya Lee Stone: I started out as an editor of children’s nonfiction books. Then when I moved to Vermont, I tried my hand at writing some of the library market nonfiction I had been editing. That went fairly well, and I published about 60 books. As my writing skills improved and my interests changed, I wanted to stretch myself in terms of what I wanted to write about and how I wanted to approach story. Library market nonfiction tends to be series-driven and fairly linear. I wanted to explore other ways to write, which basically meant starting over in terms of publishing connections, as the trade and library market do not overlap from an editorial/writer point of view. But I kept going and finally figured out how to write children’s nonfiction for the trade, as well as returning to some of my poetry and fiction roots.
BT: You write nonfiction and fiction for teens, as well as picture books. Do you have a preference between the three? What are the major differences in writing each genre?
TLS: My editorial and early writing roots are firmly grounded in nonfiction, but I love poetry, fiction, historical fiction, and picture books as well. It is usually the story that dictates which genre I will eventually choose, and that sometimes changes during the course of writing. For example, both Almost Astronauts and Courage Has No Color began as picture books!
BT: Out of all your books, do you have a favorite?
TLS: I do not have a favorite, as I learn so much from each one, but I think Almost Astronauts and Courage Has No Color have special spots in my heart because I was able to shine a light on living people whose stories had not really been told. Interacting with [people], and seeing them affected by having their stories told, has been a uniquely gratifying experience.
BT: What will book 101 be?
TLS: [The next book], which began during Courage Has No Color, is about the Japanese balloon bombs. There was so much more to the story than was appropriate to include in Courage and an entirely new book sprang from it. And [I’m writing] two new picture books—one on Ada Lovelace and another on Rosalind Franklin. Doing my part to get those math and science women in the literature for young readers.