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Author Chat with Tonya Bolden


Transcript of Live Chat
July 17, 2007 

Find out about Tonya Bolden and her books at

Summer Reading Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to our chat with Tonya Bolden. Tonya is the author of The Champ: The Story of Muhammed Ali, Portraits of African American Heroes, 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History, Tell All The Children Our Story Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America.

Tonya_Bolden Hello! Thanks for having me!

sewardsfolly Hello

QueensTeensCentral Greetings Tonya!!!

silia900 hi

krissy680 hi

Tonya_Bolden Hello to you!

sewardsfolly How much time did you spend researching for the books that you wrote?

Tonya_Bolden I spend a lot of time researching. I've never done a count. But each book takes many, many, many hours of research.

QueensTeensCentral What is the inspiration for your books?

Tonya_Bolden Many of my books are inspired by my curiosity--or that of me when I was a child.

silia900 how many books have you written?

Tonya_Bolden I have written more than twenty books. I have also edited a few.

silia900 do you enjoy writing?

Tonya_Bolden Yes, I absolutely love writing. I have to remind myself of this on bad writing days, when for example, I know what I want to write but can't come up with an engaging way to write it

Chantell hello Ms. Bolden, What made you want to start writing?

Tonya_Bolden I loved writing as a child. I was always writing poetry and short stories when I was young.

Chantell Do you travel alot?

Tonya_Bolden I travel a fair amount for readings, programs, and book industry events.

von23 are any of your books based on real life experiences?

Tonya_Bolden My novel Just Family is semi-autobiographical?

sewardsfolly Out of all the people in your book Strong Men Keep Coming and The Stories of Ten African-American Woman who do you idolize the most?

Tonya_Bolden That's a tough question! Let's say it depends on my mood.

chantal what is your favorite thing to write about?

Tonya_Bolden History is my passion.

chantal what 's the hardest thing you have written about?

Tonya_Bolden Whatever book I am currently working on is the hardest thing I've written. When I was working on my book on reconstruction, Cause, I thought I'll NEVER get through this. Then when I was working on my book MLK: Journey of a King, I thought the same thing. I am now working on a book about W.E.B. Du Bois and he is busting my brain!

chantal Do you write about any kids in your books?

Tonya_Bolden I often have children in my books. My book Tell All the Children Our Story is all about children.

von23 you wrote several biographies, did you meet these people personally?

Tonya_Bolden I have personally met some people about whom I've written. One example is the writer Charles Johnson.

HarryG ms.bolden if u had to go back to a period in time like somewhere in the past what would point in time would it be? and why?

Tonya_Bolden Hmmm. I love the 19th century. I would love to go back and time and be a part of the abolitionist movement.

Chantell Have you ever been to Brazil? I heard it was nice.

Tonya_Bolden I, too, have heard some wonderful things about Brazil. I haven't yet had a chance to go. Maybe one day.

QueensTeensCentral3 Is there a reason why you picked the number 33 for the things girls should know?
Tonya_Bolden Actually my first editor on that book had the title in mind before she chose me to compile the pieces?

jasmine do you like your job?

Tonya_Bolden I love my work. I get to learn and pass on what I learn at the same time.

chantal Do you have a favoite writer?

Tonya_Bolden I don't have one favorite writer. I have many!--so many. They include Charles Johnson, Toni Cade Bambara, Anton Chekhov, August Wilson, James Baldwin, Maryse Conde, Flannery O'Connor. I could go on and on and on!

silia900 where do you get all the pictures in your books from?????????????

Tonya_Bolden I usually get the pictures from historical societies and libraries.

QueensTeensCentral3 What do you wish someone would have told you when you were a girl?

Tonya_Bolden Never thought about that. I'll try to get back to you.

silia900 do you prefer to read or wite books?

Tonya_Bolden What a fun question. Can't choose. I know that because most of my books require so much research I'm always reading a lot of books. That means I do not do as much pleasure reading as I'd like to do. One day I'll take a long vacation and read all books I've been wanting to read over the past few years.

chantal In your books do you write about music?

Tonya_Bolden I often right about music and musicians.

Chantell Looking back on your books so there anything you would add or change about your books?

Tonya_Bolden Often, as soon as I get that first copy of a new book, I find where I could have phrased something better. The will to rewrite never ends.

Chantell When you are writing, what crowd of people are you addressing?

Tonya_Bolden I usually just write to a smart, curious person who is the age that is the book's target age.

silia900 what gave you the idea to have your title be "TAKE-OFF"?

Tonya_Bolden The title came from a 1940s ad for women musicians. I present this ad early on in the book. I came across the ad while doing research.

sewardsfolly How do you come up with the titles for your books?

Tonya_Bolden Sometimes my editor comes up with the title. Sometimes the book in a sense, tells me what to name it. For example if was after I wrote the chapter "Cause" in my book on Recontruction that I knew that had to be the title of the book. Sometimes the people in the sales and marketing division of the publisher has some input.

sewardsfolly Are you a fan of Harry Potter?

Tonya_Bolden I confess I have not read any of the books, but I have seen I think two of the movies. I enjoyed them.

chantal Is writing the only thing u like to do?

Tonya_Bolden I like doing jigsaw puzzles. I sometimes daydream of learning to play the cello. I have no idea where that comes from.

Chantell Were your english teachers any inspiration at all for you?

Tonya_Bolden I am so grateful to so many teachers. I remember one who made us do long research papers too often. This was in 10th grade. I thought she was mean. When I went to college I was so grateful that she had been so demanding. It was great preparation.

Chantell Yes me too, i can identify.

sewardsfolly Who was your favorite president?

Tonya_Bolden I never thought of having a favorite president. If I could time travel I'd like to talk with FDR, JFK, and several others. Definitely Abraham Lincoln.

QueensTeensCentral4 can we ask what you are workig on now ir is it secret?

Tonya_Bolden Right now I'm working on a biography of W.E.B. Du Bois.

QueensTeensCentral4 How many hours a week do you write?

Tonya_Bolden I write eight days a week!

QueensTeensCentral4 How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Tonya_Bolden I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was child. That is, I knew in my spirit. I didn't think I might be able to do it professionally until I was in my twenties.

silia900 what is your favorite movie?

Tonya_Bolden OK. There's no one favorite movie. One is the Lion in Winter by James Goldman, for whom I worked when I was young.

Chantell Out of all the books you have written, which one did you enjoy writing the most?

Tonya_Bolden I probably had the most fun writing Take-Off because I had challenged myself to write it mostly in the language and the beat of the Swing Era.

HarryG When you write books do you escape from the world? like do you have your own private place to write, what are some of your writers habits? Do you listen to music while you write or is it distracting?

Tonya_Bolden When I write, yes, I usually got to a different place, to world of the person or people about whom I'm writing. I try to put myself in their shoes.

jasmine how many book have you written?

Tonya_Bolden I have written more than twenty books. It could be thirty.

Chantell Whats your favorite childhood story?

Tonya_Bolden I remember loving Dr. Seuss. Also the little --I think her name is Madeline. I remember being enchanted by The Borrowers. I probably need to reread it to see why.

QueensTeensCentral4 Did you use the library as a kid?

Tonya_Bolden Yes, I used the library a lot when I was a child. It seems to me that today people can take out a lot more books than when I was a child.

Chantell Do you have any say in what you want the cover's of your books to be?

Tonya_Bolden Usually I see what the designer has come up with for a cover. I suppose if I hated something it could be changed, but I loved what different designers have come up with.

QueensTeensCentral4 Are you reading anything right now?

Tonya_Bolden All that I'm reading now are things from the mind of W.E.B. Du Bois because I'm writing a book on him. Truth be told some days I wish he hadn't written so much! He is one of the most amazing people who ever lived?

HarryG Do you set limits for how many pages you want your book to be??

Tonya_Bolden My editor and I usually have an idea as in this will be a 48 page book. Sometimes it changes.

QueensTeensCentral4 Do you think computers in the librqary is a good thing or a bad thing?

Tonya_Bolden I think computers in libraries are blessings.

Summer Reading Thanks for joining us today, Tonya. It has been a pleasure.

Tonya_Bolden Thank you! This has been a first for me! Gave me lots to think about!

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