Author Spotlight: Tae Keller

June 29, 2018

Today we are excited to feature middle-grade author Tae Keller and her new book, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS (Random House, March 2018) Enter to win a copy below!

Cover & interior illustrations © Alexandria Neonakis

Tell us about your background and how you came to write middle grade.

I've been writing my whole life, but this is my first middle grade story. I tried to write this story—about familial depression—first as an adult novel, then as YA, but it wasn't until I switched to middle grade that the voice finally clicked.

Congrats on your debut THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS! Tell us about it and what inspired you.

Thank you! When I started writing the story, I had just found out that someone very close to me was suffering from depression. It was such a scary time; I didn’t know how to help or what to do and I wrote the story as a way to process my own fear. 

Natalie’s situation with her mom was different enough from my own that I could still keep some distance, but close enough that I could work through what I was feeling at the time. I actually wrote more about that process here.

Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS is the fourth novel I've finished, but it's the first one I tried to publish. With the earlier novels, I knew I wasn't quite there as a writer. They were fun to draft, but I had no interest in revising them. I didn't feel a spark. This book was different because as soon as I finished my first draft, I had ideas for the second. I didn't want to stop working on it, so I knew it was something I should pursue. 

What projects are you working on now?

I can't say too much about it, but it's another middle grade, one that centers the Korean fairytales I heard as a kid. It's been such a joy to revisit those stories as an adult. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to an aspiring author?

Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. It's the same advice I'd give to an aspiring author, and the same advice I remind myself of now. When I realized I wanted to be published, I researched the publishing world and other author's processes obsessively. I thought there was a Right Way to do this author thing. But everybody's path and process is different, and I'm always happiest when I let go of this mythical Right Way, and just do what works for me.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I'm obsessed with dogs. My entire instagram feed is dog accounts, and I will tell you all about my Yorkie if you let me. I'm that girl who will ask to pet your puppy. Apologies in advance.

Where can people find you online? 

I'm on Twitter at @taekeller, Instagram at @tae_keller, and I send a monthly email letter with writing and personal updates:

Tae Keller grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she danced hula and subsisted on kimchi and spam musubis. Now, she writes about biracial girls trying to find their voices, and lives in New York City with a stubborn Yorkie and a multitude of books.

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  1. Thank you for introducing me to Tae Keller and her book THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS. I appreciate the advice for a writer *under construction,* "Don't worry about what everyone else is doing." I look forward to reading your debut book.

    Suzy Leopold

  2. Congrats on your debut release. Sounds wonderful!

  3. Congratulations to the author! And the cover is really charming!

  4. I already have this book on my must read for 2018. I love this character already and middle grade is my favorite.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I'm drawn in by the title and cover art. And I love my pups too!

  6. I LOVED this book for so many reasons. I really loved how the scientific process was weaved into the story line. Unfortunately, I checked the book I read out from the library and I had to give it back. I would LOVE to have my own copy to read again and again and share with students!

  7. I love that your Instagram feed is all dog accounts! The dog accounts are my favorite. :) Much success to you and your books! You are off to a wonderful start.

  8. I have a Yorkie too! Well he's my granddog but I pretend he's mine. His name Lunchbox. Can't wait to read your book!


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