It's time for Black Rabbit Books' Author Spotlight! This month, we're sharing an interview with Deanna Caswell. Deanna has written books about everything from sneaky spies to snuggly animals, and our editors all agree that she's a joy to work with. Take a minute to learn more about Deanna.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
A: I grew up in Oak Ridge, TN, which was a "secret city" for the Manhattan Project in WWII. By the time I lived there, it wasn't a secret anymore, but it was still full of nuclear scientists and engineers (like my dad) who weren't allowed to tell you what they did at work!
In college, I studied marine biology, then marine chemistry, and then since there was really "no such thing" as marine chemistry, I settled on inorganic chemistry with a math minor (it would have been a double major, but I kept failing "Imaginary Numbers!") Finally, I started my PhD with a super-cool project for the military, just like so many people I knew growing up, but it felt empty. It took me a master's degree in yet another field, a crazy assortment of jobs (nanny, lab tech, teacher, waitress, physics/math tutor, therapist, mountain guide), and 12 more years to realize I was a WRITER.
These days, I live in a wacky old house (it has a bathroom in every room, why?) on a tiny Pegasus-shaped lake in the backwoods of North Mississippi with my husband, five children, and an ever-changing assortment of animals.
Q: You've written quite a few books for Black Rabbit! Do you have a favorite title or series?
A: I think every children's author dreams of writing about baby animals. In fact, my writing teachers warned us to never hope for that kind of assignment. So of course, the Adorable Animals series was such an honor to write and the one that gets the most feedback from readers. It is my special favorite!
Q: What was your favorite thing about school as a kid?
A: The best part of school was when my teachers read to us, but my #1 favorite was when our school librarian, Ms. Jackson, read chapter books aloud. She'd sit down in her rocking chair, carefully open the book, and run her eyes down the pages, searching for where we'd left off. She'd bite on her tongue, like she was trying really hard, and we would all try to help by tell her what happened last. She always acted like hadn't cracked it since she last saw us and was dying to know what happened next. It was many years before I realized that she was reading the same book to multiple classes and had done so for many years.
Plenty of teachers read aloud to me over the years, but Ms. Jackson's stories were the most memorable. Her stories were so much more exciting and uncivilized than we expected from a school librarian. She did all the voices; each brawl or battle was performed full volume. She laughed when she could catch us off-guard; we'd all JUMP!
Q: What inspires you to write children's books?
A: To my teachers, it was always obvious that I was a writer in my heart; I have letters from them attesting to the fact, and I love using my abilities to connect curious students (students just like myself!) with topics they're interested in.