Ask the Author: Sally J. Pla
What would you like readers to know about you?
Hi! I’m an award-winning children’s author. My books are Junior Library Guild Selections that have appeared on many state awards lists and “best books” roundups. My first novel, The Someday Birds, received the 2018 Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award for its depiction of autism/disability. My picture book, Benji, The Bad Day, & Me, was the San Diego Book Award’s Best Children’s Book in 2019. My novel Stanley Will Probably Be Fine is a Bank Street, Kirkus, and NYPL Best Book of the year. I’m also a neurodiversity advocate – I believe in the beauty of different brains, and in stories where different kids can see themselves, sometimes for the first time. You can visit me at www.sallyjpla.com.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
The Someday Birds is about war, chicken nuggets, rescue dogs, autism, OCD, un-extincting, and a cross-country quest for a mysterious bird guru who lives in a sanctuary marsh.
Stanley Will Probably Be Fine is about an epic comic trivia quest, a fantasy superhero, coyotes, a Sketchpad of Mystery, an absentee dad, best friend problems, and an irrational fear of public transit.
Benji, The Bad Day, & Me is about neurodiversity, sibling love-and-rivalry, and knowing when you need to be rolled into a fuzzy blue burrito.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Children and their lives and struggles are my inspiration.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
It’s always fun when parts of my own three boys’ childhood escapades inspire parts of the books I write.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
As a kid, I loved A Wrinkle In Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Little Women (I wanted to be Jo so badly!) But I read anything I could get my hands on. It all inspired me to try my hand at writing, myself.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
If you have something you want to express in writing, don’t feel intimidated or overwhelmed or like the writing has to be perfect. The big secret? EVERYONE writes terrible first drafts. The magic happens when you stay with that draft, and work with it, and revise and fine-tune it. Keep with it. Just take it slowly and in parts. Discover what your heart wants to say. And write “bird by bird,” as the amazing author Anne Lamott will tell you. Good luck!
The Someday Birds
Winner of the 2018 Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award * NY Public Library Best Kids Book of 2017 * Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2017 * Nerdy Book Club Award winner * Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee * State awards lists