Ellen Oh, Editor of Flying Lessons and Other Stories | Speed Interview
The Children’s Book Review | January 4, 2017
The Children’s Book Review: Which five words best describe Flying Lessons and Other Stories?
Ellen Oh: Best Stories in the World! :o)
If you had to take a vacation with one of the characters from Flying Lessons and Other Stories, who would it be? Why?
Oh this one is easy! Nani from Soman Chainani’s Flying Lessons story. How can you resist going on vacation with a larger than life character who storms the beach in red stilettos and a white fur coat? I honestly think it would be the most entertaining vacation of a lifetime.
What has been the best reaction from a reader, so far?
My youngest daughter picked up the book because she is a huge Kwame Alexander fan and she immediately turned to his story and proceeded to howl with laughter. There is no better sound in the world than the laughter of children.
What’s on your nightstand? Any books?
Too many books is my problem. Well, I’m looking right now and I see Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch, I should have read these books ages ago but I’m so behind from reading all those books as one of the National Book Award judges this year.
For your writing energy: sugar or salt, tea or coffee?
I don’t drink coffee, it makes me really jittery and bug eyed. I’m a tea with milk kind of gal with a wicked sweet tooth.
Writing tools: computer, pen and paper, or all of the above?
All of the above. I’ve also been known to use my iPhone to write notes in when I’m running around outside and don’t have my notepad with me. I mostly write on my laptop but I like the old-fashioned composition notebooks for brainstorming ideas and troubleshooting—although I regret to say that I have the worst handwriting in the world. My parents were sure I’d be a doctor because of how illegible it is.
Can you tell us one more thing we may not know about Flying Lessons and Other Stories, your writing style, or yourself?
I’m a writer, I’m a lawyer, I’m a teacher, and I’m an activist. All these things make me the complete person that I am today.
All my life I’ve been a fighter. I’m also a loud mouth who doesn’t hold back my opinions. There might be a correlation between those two things. But I think that kids from marginalized communities have to be both. They have to be vocal about their rights and they have to fight for them. Now more than ever, the fight for equality and representation is in our hands. Nothing is going to be handed over to us. And we have to be strong. But fighting and being loud doesn’t have to happen in only one way. My youngest daughter is quiet and non-confrontational, but she expresses herself through her art and her poetry. I find some of her poems revolutionary, and she’s only 12! And that’s my point. How we affect the world depends on our own individual strengths. Art in all its forms has always been a medium for political change and it will be more important in the coming years. Change happens when we use our words and our art. And I believe our future generations, with more exposure to diverse literature from young ages, will be able to lead that change together.
Edited by Ellen Oh
Publisher’s Synopsis: Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.
From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | January 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1101934593
About Ellen Oh
Ellen Oh is cofounder and president of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and author of the YA fantasy trilogy the Prophecy series and the middle-grade novel The Spirit Hunters, to be published in fall 2017. She was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Notable People of 2014. Ellen met Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers at one of her first book festivals. Already nervous, her mouth dropped open when she saw the pair towering over the crowd. Chris took pity on an awestruck Ellen and introduced himself, and he and Walter couldn’t have been nicer, taking her under their wing and treating her like an old friend. Oh resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children. Discover more at ellenoh.com.
This speed interview with Ellen Oh, editor of Flying Lessons and Other Stories, was conducted by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Diversity, Story Collections, and Speed Interview.