Erin Entrada Kelly is an author of children's literature and was awarded the 2018 John Newberry Medal by the Association for Library Service to Children for her third novel, Hello, Universe. She will be visiting the Carnegie Lecture Hall on Sun., Jan. 6 with her newest book You Go First. The critically acclaimed 2018 book is an exploration of life as a middle schooler through "family, bullying, word games, art."
Your newest work explores the topic of bullying. What is one piece of advice you would give to a child who is currently being bullied?
In a perfect world, children would have trusted adults they could talk to. My first piece of advice is to find that person and tell them what's happening — a parent, teacher, friend. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Some young people don't feel like they have anyone they can turn to. For them, my advice is to remember that no one defines who you are except you. We all have a voice. Don't allow anyone to silence yours.
I’m really curious about your book, Hello, Universe. What inspired you to write it?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exact inspiration. All of my stories develop from a character. For Hello, Universe, the character Virgilio Salinas came to mind first. The story took off from there.
What can folks expect to hear at your lecture on Jan. 6? Would you consider this a lecture for all ages?
Yes, it's for all ages. I typically discuss otherness, kindness, the power of imagination, and my creative process.
Is this your first visit to Pittsburgh? Is there anything locally you're hoping to do while you're here?
I’ve never been to Pittsburgh. I'm really looking forward to it. I plan to see the Penguins while I'm in town. I've never been to a hockey game, so it should be fun, even though I don’t know any of the rules and don't know any of the players except Sid Crosby. I'm also looking forward to visiting the library. So I'll have two very different Pittsburgh experiences!
Any new writing projects you can tell our CP readers about?
My first fantasy, Lalani of the Distant Sea, will be released on May 7, 2019. It's the story of an ordinary 12-year-old girl on an extraordinary quest. And I'm already working on a rough draft of a novel that is set for 2020.
Erin Entrada Kelly for Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. 2:30 p.m. Sun., Jan. 6. $11. All ages. pittsburghlectures.org. A book signing with Erin will follow the program in the Children’s Department of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.