Miranda Paul is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children, including One Plastic Bag and Boston Globe–Horn Book Honoree Nine Months Before a Baby Is Born. Miranda is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and serves as its mentorship chair. Learn more at mirandapaul.com.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein; The Giver by Lois Lowry
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” —Aesop, “The Lion and the Mouse”
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Jacqueline Woodson, Shel Silverstein, Lois Lowry
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
Though I wrote and illustrated my first picture book in second grade (I still have it!), I didn’t always know I would grow up to make children’s books. My professional journey began officially, let’s say, in 2003. At college, I applied for a class called Writing for Children with National Book Award winner Lucille Clifton. To apply, I slipped several writing samples under Lucille’s door and waited. Weeks later I got a notification that I was one of six people chosen to be in her class. It was a transformative experience—and I learned that writing for children was truly harder than any other kind of writing I’d done! I wanted to do this work so much because books had a big influence on me as a child. Plus, there are some days when I get to work in my pajamas!
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
My advice to future authors and illustrators is not to be in such a hurry to see that title page with your name on it. The goal isn’t getting published, it’s writing a great story that you can stand behind for a long time—and then doing that again and again if you want to sustain a career. Also, beware of too much advice. Many great stories come from within, and that voice inside you is important to listen to. (ALSO: I’ve put up a page with more advice for writers at mirandapaul.com/for-writers)