The BKBF Interview: Meg Medina

The BKBF Interview continues this week with award-winning author Meg Medina. This weekly series of Q&As features some of this year’s authors. Tune in on Saturday, October 3 at 10am as Meg Medina, author of the picture book Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away, kicks off the BKBF Children’s Day. 

Where is your favorite place to read and why?
I love to read in bed, curled under the comforter and with the fan whirling above my head. The house goes quiet. I’m far from my phone and emails. I can finally sink into the world of imagination and then drift off to sleep.  

What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime?   
Oh, it was a wonderful middle grade novel called A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat. It’s a magical retelling of Les Misérables set in a reimagined Thailand. It’s exquisite. Spot-on perfect voice for young readers, not to mention a lovely beginning look at social justice.

Who made reading important to you?
Over a lifetime, lots of people. But I’d have to say that first I was lucky to have a mother and aunts who had been teachers in Cuba. My mom had very limited English, but she still made sure I had a library card and enough money to buy a book every month using the Troll book form at school. She also bought my sister and me a set of World Book encyclopedias on an installment plan. Having books around became a habit. Being able to read a story as entertainment, to find things out and know about the world became a habit and then a love. 

What books are currently piled in your “To Be Read” stack … and where can the stack be found in your home?
I am late to the game, but Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay has been calling my name for a long time and it’s finally at the top of the pile! Another one that I have been dying to read for a long while is Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I just ordered Natalia Sylvester’s Running. I keep my TBR titles on my nightstand, naturally. I also keep a little collection of bookmarks right beside it, along with my clip-on reading light. I am a full-fledged night reading professional!

How have the pandemic and anti-racism protests of 2020 affected your reading and/or writing?
I feel as though I’ve reached for books the way a drowning woman reaches for a life preserver. Reading is my only hope for any sort of illumination. It’s one of the few ways I can still find peace and calm inside myself. I’m taking notes, too, because we are witnesses to something monumental as a nation, and one day, our grandchildren are going to have questions about this. I want them to know what it was like to live through this in its horror and beauty.

Meg Medina is the author of Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away. She received the Newbery Medal for her book Merci Suárez Changes Gears, which was a 2018 Kirkus Prize finalist. She is also the author of award-winning YA novels and the picture books Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, and Tía Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.