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Author Carmen Deedy Shares the Stories Behind Her Books

"If you're going to write, be real."

This advice that award-winning book author Carmen Deedy offered to Upper School seniors during her on-campus visit Thursday, Sept. 22, struck a chord. As a Cuban immigrant, Ms. Deedy frequently draws stories and characters from her own life, giving them a true "realness." 

"My father's voice transformed stories," she said. And in learning to master the English language, books and stories inspired her. As a first grader, she embraced "Stuart Little."  

"Books can really make an impression on a child," she said. "Books are a place they can hide for a little while. And everyone remembers their favorite from childhood." 

Ms. Deedy spoke with the Upper School students about the process of drafting a children's book, the relationships between the editor, the writer and the illustrator, the difference in writing a chapter book, and how she copes with writer's block. She also said that a Waffle House is a great location to find some interesting characters and voices. 

"Writing books is humbling," she said. "You make so many mistakes. Editors have a fresh perspective — everyone needs them." 

Later in the day, Ms. Deedy visited with Kindergarten through fifth grades in The Hardwick Family Media Center to tell stories about her family and some of the schools she has visited over the years.  

"No matter the age of the audience, Carmen Deedy has a way of bringing stories to life," Susanna Mees, academic learning specialist, said. "She can engage a 5-year-old or a 17-year-old and everyone is always sad when her time has to stop." 

Matthew Vickers '23 attended the Upper School meeting as a representative of the Hispanic Heritage Club. "It was very inspiring to learn how her culture influenced her," he said. 

As a HIES alumni parent (daughter Lauren graduated in 2004), Ms. Deedy is a frequent and welcome visitor to campus. Holy Innocents' Episcopal School Hardwick Family Media Center will host the official launch for Ms. Deedy's newest children's book "Wombat Said Come In" on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 6-8 pm. 

— Christina Mimms