Interview with Tamora Pierce
Kid Reporter talks to Beka Cooper author
|Author Tamora Pierce discussed her latest book with Scholastic News in a bookstore in New York City. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)|
October 31, 2006
She may be in her early 50s, but author Tamora Pierce has more in common with kids than she does with adults. For one thing, she collects stones. She also loves comic books. The author, who has written 24 novels for young people, also writes comic books with her husband.
Her love of collecting stones shows in her work. In her new book Beka Cooper: Terrier, magic stones play a big part in the plot. But that’s not all. At a recent interview in a bookstore in New York City, Pierce told Scholastic News that her writing reflects her life in many ways. The character of Beka is a good example.
“Part of [Beka] comes from me,” Pierce said. “The shy part comes from me. Also, growing up poor—not as poor as she is, but having grown up poor, I understood a lot [of] what she was up against.”
Having to make public appearances as a writer has made Pierce more outgoing over the years. She reflects that change in Beka, who is in training to be a police officer. When she is wearing her police uniform, Beka doesn’t feel as shy. She does what she should do: her job. Her job in this first part of a trilogy is to solve a murder mystery—and to stay alive!
Pierce began writing as a child. Her father overheard her telling stories to herself while she was doing chores. He encouraged her to write her stories down, even letting her use his typewriter.
“Since we weren’t allowed to use it, I knew that it was really important to him that I try this writing-a-book thing,” she said. He suggested writing time-travel stories, so she took her imagination to the Trojan War, in which ancient Greece defeated the city of Troy.
As a student, she became interested in medieval times. Fourteen of her books, including her latest, are based on these times. She gets a lot of her ideas from her research and from what she learned years ago in school.
“Some of the stuff I’ve been collecting since I was a little kid,” she said. “I was nuts for stuff in the Middle Ages when I was just in the third and fourth grades.”
|Author Tamora Pierce and Scholastic Student Reporter Kajal Jani. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)|
So what is this famous author like as a person? Pierce’s favorite foods are ice cream, spaghetti, and filet mignon. Fans think purple is her favorite color because she signs her books in purple ink. She likes red too, she says, because it stands for courage. Her bridesmaids wore bright red to her wedding! She often wears different shades of blue as well.
Her favorite weather is a fierce thunderstorm with lightning. She would love to someday visit Petra, in the Middle East country of Jordan, where she has placed the scenes of two of her books.
Pierce has two younger sisters and two older stepbrothers. An animal lover, she has four cats and two parakeets, but that’s not all. She also has three stray animals in her backyard. She loves to feed birds. Beka’s ability to talk to pigeons came from Pierce’s experiences feeding pigeons and listening to their “chatter.”
She loves to read Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, and Mark Twain. When asked about family traditions, Pierce dropped her chin to the table, resting it on her folded hands. After a moment’s thought, she shyly said, “Well, my husband and I click wedding rings sometimes and say, ‘By the power of the Castle of Greyskull!’” Yes, she’s a fan of He-Man and She-Ra—and Spiderman and Daredevil and lots of other comic book and fantasy writers.
Pierce has a large fan base, which became obvious as people gathered for her bookstore reading. Her appeal is her creative imagination. Her strong sense of ethics, loyalty, and honesty shines through clearly in her stories.
“What people tell me they take away from my books is that they can shape their lives, they can achieve their own dreams,” she said. “And certainly that’s what I want them to take away.”
Kajal Jani is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.