Tommy Hays

Tommy Hays’s first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, is a VOYA Top Shelf Pick for Middle Grade Fiction 2014 and a Fall 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. His novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and has been chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing and In the Family Way, a Book of the Month Club selection and winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina Asheville. For more information please visit


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Charlotte’s Web

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Holly Goldberg Sloan, Jacqueline Woodson, and R.J. Palacio

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

Because I couldn’t keep from writing.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Read a lot, especially things you think you might not like or things you wouldn’t ordinarily read. Read out of your comfort zone.