Teen Press Corps Member Addison Interview Author Renee Watson!
Addison Doherty: Where is your favorite place to write and what makes it your favorite?
Renee Watson: I like to write in coffee shops, so I have a few favorites depending on where I’m at, like sometimes I’m in Portland and sometimes I’m in New York. I like coffee shops because there’s lots of people around, but I can put my headphones on and kind of be solitary in my own space. Writing is such a lonely thing, you know, so I try to get out of the house as much as possible. I like to see people and feel the energy but I don’t like the noise so I use my headphones to listen to music.
AD: Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
RW: There’s a little bit of me in all my characters. It’s sometimes more obvious than others, but I think I’m always drawing on parts of myself that I like and don’t like, and things that I see kind of in my world, like the schools I went to, the people in my neighborhood when I was younger growing up. My stories are rooted in a lot of those places and inspired by a lot of those people.
AD: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
RW: When I’m not writing, I love watching TV. I really like anything Ava Duvernay has her hands on, so Queen Sugar, I love her documentaries. I’m a big Shonda Rhimes fan, so I also like Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder. So I don’t watch TV like in real-time, but Hulu and Netflix are like my friends.
AD: If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream job?
RW: So, it’s funny, when I was younger, like maybe in middle school, I wanted to be a lawyer. But the only reason I wanted to be a lawyer was because I loved the Cosby Show, and Claire Huxtable, the mom. She was a lawyer, and she was amazing, she was this beautiful, strong black woman who was married and had children but also had this thriving career. You didn’t see that often on TV, so I wanted to be her, and by default that meant I wanted to be a lawyer. But when I got older, I realized I really didn’t want to be a lawyer. I guess my dream job would be teaching. I love to teach and if I wasn’t writing full-time I’d probably be a teacher teaching English or creative writing.
AD: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
RW: To do my best when nobody is looking or paying attention. So like, I’ve always been a writer, I’ve told this story a lot, when I was in the second grade I wrote a 21-page story. So like I’ve always been a writer, I loved poetry, in high school I was a writer, but a lot of times I was writing for an assignment or writing for a thing but my best writing has been when I wasn’t writing on a deadline, when I was writing for myself, so I would tell my younger self to do my best when nobody is looking, to still write the good stuff. A lot of the stuff I have published now are things that I wrote when nobody knew my name.
AD: What are you reading right now?
RW: I just finished a book called Calling my Name, it’s a new YA book by Liara Tamani that will be out in a few weeks I think. And I’m going to start reading Rise of the Jumbies, which is the second book in the series by Tracy Baptiste