Kekla Magoon

Kekla Magoon
Did you know a real-life Styx growing up? Who most inspired you when you were Caleb and Bobby Gene’s age?

Nope. Styx is all fantasy! He came wandering out of the woods of my imagination one day, and that was that. I suspect he’s inspired by a combination of things—a few people I’ve known as well as some fable and tall tale characters. He “moves through the world like the air around him is greased” and all that, much like a trickster from a legend. nothing ever goes wrong for Styx Malone, and I find that fascinating.

I was most inspired by books when I was Caleb and Bobby Gene’s age. I liked reading fantasy somewhat but mostly I would read about real kids living their lives, making friends and having adventures. I wanted to have friends and adventures, too!

How did you feel when you learned The Season of Styx Malone had received its first starred review?

So excited! I love the book and I feel proud of it as a piece of my creative work, but there is never any way to know in advance how a particular book will be received by the world. If I’m lucky enough that starred reviews, other honors, and positive reader feedback start rolling in, it is icing on the cake. And we all know the icing is the sweetest part!

In your online bio, you mention how your mom took you to the library every week when you were growing up. How would you describe your current library habits?

Yes, my mom took us to the library at least once if not twice a week, and I always checked out as many books as I could carry. Now, I visit libraries all over the country doing book presentations! I love seeing all kinds of libraries, new buildings, old buildings, bright atriums and dim winding stacks. It’s always exciting! I have a library card for my local library, of course, and I check out books there occasionally, as well as from the library at the college where I teach. We have an excellent interlibrary loan program and online access to numerous databases, so I can do some of my library work and research from home at all hours of the day, which is wonderful. I recently discovered Kanopy, an app for watching free movies at home via my local library. My Library of Congress reader card lives permanently in my wallet, even though I only make it down to do research there every year or two.

What story is next for you? Are there any new characters introducing themselves to you at the moment?

My very next novel Light It Up (Henry Holt/Macmillan October 2019) is built upon familiar characters—it’s a multiple-viewpoint young adult novel about the controversial shooting of a young black girl by a white police officer, set in the same community as my 2014 novel How It Went Down.

My next middle grade with Wendy Lamb Books/Random House is also in the works, forthcoming in 2021. The main character, Chester Keene, appeared to me as a quirky little voice, planning his walk to his bus stop and reviewing his meticulous morning routine in excruciating detail. I knew who he was right away, and that he needed a bit of adventure to jog him out of his rut. It has been fun to get to know him and his world over the past year. I’m excited for the world to meet him, too!