Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2015 Conference Faculty: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Meet the faculty of the 2015 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We've asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith


Next in the series is Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of the Feral series, which includes Feral Nights, Feral Curse and Feral Pride, as well as the Tantalize series, which includes Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, Diabolical. Two graphic novels, Tantalize: Kieren's Story and Eternal: Zachary's Story, both illustrated by Ming Doyle, complete the Tantalize series.

These adventure-fantasies are originally published by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. Her series are often noted for their diverse protagonists, humor, social conscience and compelling action.

Cynthia is also the author of several children's books, including Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu; Rain Is Not My Indian Name and Indian Shoes, illustrated by Jim Madsen; all published by HarperCollins.

Cynthia was named a Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in recognition of Rain is Not My Indian Name. Cynthia has been twice featured at the National Book Festival. Most recently, she was named the first Spirit of Texas Young Adult author by the Young Adult Round Table of the Texas Library Association and the first young adult author to be honored with the Illumine Award by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation. In 2013, the Austin chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor.

Cynthia is a member of the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Her website at was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer's Digest and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her Cynsations blog at was listed as among the top two read by the children's/YA publishing community in the SCBWI "To Market" column.

What attracted you to children’s books?

Children’s-YA books have the most dynamic heroes—though who must grow and change the most to meet their challenges—and, not surprising, the most dynamic readers, too.

What’s the best part of your job?

Empowering young readers to become young writers and validating the importance of their voices.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The ever-heightening marketing expectations and time crunch imposed on professional trade authors.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

Keep sprinkling seeds. Some will grow, others won’t. But don’t worry about that. Just stay positive and keep sprinkling. (Children’s author Jane Kurtz).

Come see Cynthia at the 2015 Austin SCBWI conference, March 7-8.