Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This week’s guest is Crystalee Calderwood, a young author with a lot of talent.

Crystalee Calderwood is a born poet turned children's
writer, small town girl turned big city dweller. Crystalee moved from Altoona, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she was twenty-two years old to attend the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chatham University. It was there she took her very first class in writing for children and adolescents, and she's never looked back.

As a member of Literacy AmeriCorps Pittsburgh,
Crystalee has had the pleasure of interacting with children in the community through the non-profit organization Beginning with Books. She introduced children to great books in hopes that they would fall in love with them the way she has. She is currently teaching computer skills to adults.

To get to know Crystalee better, please check out her website: ,

as well as her blog:

Now, let’s ask Crystalee a few questions:

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I used to write short stories way back in first grade. I’ve been reading even longer, since before I started school, so I only felt it was natural for me to write. I wrote poetry for many years. It wasn’t until I went to grad school to get my MFA in Creative Writing that I discovered writing for children. That was in 2006. I ended up with a dual emphasis in poetry and writing for children and adolescents. I am amazed at how far I have come along with my writing since then.

How do you get the ideas for your picture books?

Well, I live and experience life, first of all. I get most of my ideas from things I’ve seen, experienced or heard. I also try to interact with children. I spent a year as a volunteer reading to children in daycares across Pittsburgh. In that year, I learned more about what children like than I had learned in my entire life. I also love to read children’s books. I’m always asking myself if I can write something better than or different than the kinds of books that are out there. I’m not interested in writing books that copy a current trend, unless I can put my own spin on that trend.

Do you experiment with other genres as well?

Yes, I do. I started out writing poetry. I have also experimented with flash fiction. But nothing makes me happier than writing for children. I’m really a big kid at heart, and I write the kinds of books I would have liked to read when I was younger. I have also recently completed a young adult novel in verse, and I’m very excited to break into the YA market was well.

Check back in a few days and learn about Crystalee Calderwood’s new book,
“Angeline Jellybean”.

Cheers for now!



Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

This is what I love about virtual tours - you learn a little bit more about an author each time. I didn't know Cystalee spent time as a volunteer reading to children.

elysabeth said...

It's great to get to know each other a little bit more each time we are hosting someone. Angeline Jellybean is a cute book. I think kids will enjoy the rhyming and the illustrations to go along with the story. Can't wait to see what is written about Angeline next - E :)

Vivian Zabel said...

I have a new shipment (at least a few copies)of Angeline Jellybean, and the book is lovely, bright, and wonderful.