Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Ill., and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was 4 years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was to read. The first work she ever published was when she was 9 – a poem in a children's magazine. She was paid $1 by check, which she gave to her father, who still has it in a frame. In 1983 Park left her job and moved to Dublin, where she married and started a family. In 1990 she and her family moved to the United States. Park eventually realized that she really wanted to write books for children. In 1997, she started writing her first book, "Seesaw Girl." It was accepted that same year and published in 1999. Park won the Newbery Award in 2002 for "A Single Shard." She is the author of "The 39 Clues: Book 9, Storm Warning" (Scholastic). She is also a contributor to the serialized story called "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure," available exclusively on the Library of Congress website at www.Read.gov. Park lives in New York state.
Previous National Book Festival Appearances
From the 2010 National Book Festival
Most recently, you wrote Storm Warning – part of the 39 Clues series. Is this your first time writing for a series? Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
Yes, this was my first time writing for a series. It was a great experience—I was anxious about it, but I got a lot of help from my editor Rachel Griffiths. I was inspired by the authors of the other books in the series—they had given me tremendous material to work with! And as always, I was inspired by thinking about the readers. I knew that the series already had very loyal fans and I wanted to do my best not to let them down!
Can you tell us about your experience writing for the Exquisite Corpse Adventure?
The ECA was like a series in miniature. And if you’ve read any of it, you know it’s a crazy, wild ride! There are so many elements in the story, that I found it worked best for me to narrow the focus in the two chapters I wrote. I especially enjoyed writing Chapter 21, about FOOD!
Can you suggest a fun writing topic to get them started?
I’m a big fan of lists! I use lists for everything from brainstorming to getting unstuck when I’m stuck. Lists are fun and fast and they help wake up the writing cells in your brain and get them going. Here are a few ideas for lists:
- Five things you love
- Five things you hate!
- Five objects in your room
- The five best jobs in the world
- The five worst jobs in the world
- Five places you would love to visit
- Choose three of the topics above and make your lists. Then pick one item from each of the three lists, think about how they could connect, and write a poem or story that includes those three elements.
What is your advice to parents for passing the joys of reading on to their children?
Read together. Read aloud, read silently, take turns reading pages or chapters. Get a book of funny poems, keep it in the kitchen and read a poem or two aloud before meals—most poems take less than thirty seconds to read! Listen to audio books in the car or on public transport. If you’re not a reader yourself, at least try faking it for twenty minutes each day with your children—you never know, you might all become readers together!
Can you tell us about any new books that you will be working on during the coming year?
Coming out in November, my new middle-grade novel, A Long Walk To Water. It’s based on the true story of a family friend, Salva Dut. Salva is a former refugee from southern Sudan, one of the “Lost Boys” who survived war and a harrowing walk of hundreds of miles through east Africa to reach safety. His life is an incredible story of survival and hope, and I can’t wait for readers to meet him in my book!
If you weren’t creating children’s books, what do you think you would be doing?
I used to want to be an astronaut—I always want to see the world from different perspectives, and seeing it from outer space would be amazing. But I think I’m a little old to start the training. So I’d pick either visual artist or music composer, because the visual arts and music can communicate to people all over the world without translation.
Do you have a website where young people can learn more about you and your work?