Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.
She has since written more than 40 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Double Identity; Uprising; The Always War; the Shadow Children series; the Missing series; the Children of Exile series; the Under Their Skin duology; and The Palace Chronicles. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and numerous state reader’s choice awards. They have also been translated into more than twenty different languages.
Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio. They are the parents of two grown kids.
1. Hi Margaret, it’s been a bit of a crazy year since we last had you on. What have you been up to lately?
Most recently, a lot of travel for school, library, and festival visits. But beyond that, I’ve had both a new middle-grade and a new YA novel come out within the past year. CHILDREN OF REFUGE, the second book in the CHILDREN OF EXILE trilogy came out last fall, continuing the story from a different character’s perspective. The stand-alone YA book, SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS, just came out this month (hurray!) and it’s my first for that age group in a few years. It tells the tale of two girls who spend a summer in Spain together, and find out about a secret both of their families have been keeping from them.
2. When I talk to kids about their favorite authors your name is often on their list. How do you manage being a favorite and a role model for younger readers and writers?
Well, thank you! But to answer your question: I don’t know. Does that sound flippant? It really isn’t meant to be. I’m just a little too close to my own books to understand why they are or aren’t popular. My strategy has been to write books about topics and characters and situations that I’m interested in, and I always hope that my enthusiasm and excitement and interest is contagious for readers.
3. What is one issue in the young reader community that you are passionate about? (Anti piracy, book banning, diversity, bullying, etc)
I’m actually passionate about all of those topics, but I don’t think I’m the best person to speak about all of them. I think I am most passionate about the way books can teach kids empathy. I would like a lot of adults to be more empathetic, too, but I have more hope for kids.
4. What are some books you’ve read and would recommend from the last 5 years?
In YA, FAR FROM THE TREE, by Robin Benway; THE NAMES THEY GAVE US, by Emery Lord; YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR, by Mitali Perkins; LUCY AND LINH, by Alice Pung; THE HATE YOU GIVE, by Angie Thomas; and SAINTS AND MISFITS, by S.K. Ali.
In middle grades fiction, THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, by Jen Maschari; the Blackthorn Key series by Kevin Sands; and the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. In adult fiction, HOMEGOING, by Yaa Gyaasi.
5. What is the book/books that you hear about most from your readers?
Do you mean of my own books? AMONG THE HIDDEN. By far.
6. Is there a book or series of yours that you wish got more love?
Any book or series that isn’t AMONG THE HIDDEN or the Shadow Children series! I’m kind of joking about that, but it’s a little like a parent having several kids and wanting all of them to be appreciated and loved. With some of my books, though, I knew even when I wrote them that they weren’t likely to attract a lot of attention, and truly, it’s okay—there are some readers those books really connect with, and that’s enough. It’s not all about the numbers. I do have one stand-alone—THE ALWAYS WAR—and one series–the Under Their Skin duology—that I thought might be noticed a little bit more when they first came out. But UNDER THEIR SKIN was just named to the Choose to Read Ohio list, so maybe it’s just a matter of me needing to be more patient about the books taking a while to catch on.
7. What are you interested in outside of writing?
Lots of things! My biggest hobby is probably travel—I love exploring new places.
8. If you had to pick an animal to describe yourself, what would it be?
It depends on the day. Somedays I feel like a hamster on a hamster wheel, running frantically; other days I’m the sloth. So what would the combo be—a ham-sloth?
9. What’s up for you in the next year?
Endings and beginnings. The last book in the Children of Exile trilogy comes out in November—it’s called CHILDREN OF JUBILEE. Then I have a new trilogy starting next year. It’s called the Greystone Secrets, and the first book, THE STRANGERS, comes out in February of 2019. I’m very excited to see that one arrive.