Cynthia Overbeck Bix

Cynthia Bix grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where family visits to historical sites that dot the East Coast—including Old Sturbridge Village, Colonial Williamsburg, and Baltimore’s own Fort McHenry—sparked her early interest in American history, crafts, and everyday life. After moving as a teenager to the San Francisco Bay Area, she added natural science—the world of plants, animals, and the environment—to her interests.

She has been an avid reader ever since first grade, and there’s always a stack of novels on her nightstand. (Sometimes she even sneaks in a reading session when she should be cooking dinner!)

Cynthia loves to write about anything and everything. In her more than 30 nonfiction books for children and adults, she has written about such diverse subjects as carnivorous plants, the water cycle, flower gardens, and the Grand Canyon. She has also written how-to-do-it books about activities from planning a backyard cottage to making impressions of animal footprints!

In addition to writing books and articles, Cynthia edits books for both children and adults.

Interview

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I loved The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. In their house on New Dollar Street, the Moffat children—Sylvie, Joe, Janey, and Rufus—lived a simple, old-fashioned life, in which every small event was an adventure. I was also a fan of Eleanor Cameron, Beverly Cleary, A. A. Milne, and Lewis Carroll.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“Suddenly the sun came out. All day it had been hidden, but now it burst from the clouds. Everywhere the crusted snow began to shine like Christmas cotton. It was only a minute, and then it disappeared again beneath a cloud. And there, as if the blinding moment of brightness had created it like the wave of a wand, was the house on Maple Hill.” —Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

I enjoy so many authors’ works—both for children and adults. A few of my favorite fiction writers are: Susan Cooper, Eva Ibbotson, Lucy Boston, Rumer Godden, L. M. Montgomery, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Penelope Lively, Laurie R. King, Jacqueline Winspear, and Kate Morton. I also love biographies, especially Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic and very readable biography of Charlotte Bronte and Margaret Lane’s biography of Beatrix Potter.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I have always loved to read, and to learn about all kinds of things—how people lived in times past, the secrets hidden in the world of plants and animals, how to make things like quilts, and how to plan and create gardens and cozy rooms. Writing about these things has helped me to understand them better and to share what I’ve learned with the people who read my books. As a child, I also liked to write and illustrate stories, and to make up stories to tell aloud to my younger sister.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

It’s old advice, but true: Write about what really interests you! Not just about what you already know, but also about what you’d like to learn. That could be anything, from the story of a well-known person (past or present), to the true facts about that butterfly flittering among the bushes in the backyard.