Traci Sorell

Kelly Downs Photography

Traci Sorell is the author of Sibert, Orbis Pictus, AILA American Indian Youth Literature Award, and Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. Her title Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer was also named an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and a AILA American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I didn’t have favorite books, but I did enjoy reading certain authors. Mysteries and books by Cherokee author Wilson Rawls, Judy Blume, and Beverly Clearly.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

Best first line, written by the late Charlene Willing McManis—“Before being terminated, I was Indian” in the historical fiction, middle grade novel, Indian No More.

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

I don’t have any because there are so many wonderful authors and illustrators creating books now. It’s a wonderful time to be a young person!

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I could not find contemporary portrayals of our Cherokee people, culture or language to share with my son. So I figured I needed to learn how to craft works for young people to address the problem.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Read widely and deeply in whatever genre, format and age group you want to craft works for and make sure those have been published within the last three years. Understand your first draft is your worst. Through critique, read aloud and revision, the story will be sculpted and strengthened for submission.