When Writers Talk: Podcasts with Middle Grade Authors


Like many of you, I am an overscheduled person. As a way to fit in some work on the craft of writing for children, I’ve recently started listening to podcasts with my favorite authors. It’s been inspiring and thought-provoking, plus it’s really fun. I love getting to hang out with Kate Messner as I’m doing the dishes, Laurel Snyder as I’m driving, or Adam Rex as I’m running. Here are the ones I’ve enjoyed so far. All of these are available through the websites linked below or through iTunes.

This Creative Life by Sara Zarr

This was the first writing podcast I found. Zarr is a Young Adult author, but she interviews a number of middle grade authors, as well, including Varian Johnson and Gene Leun Yang. I love that she asks all of the authors about their writing process and the bumps they’ve encountered along the way. It’s somehow comforting to know that even bestselling authors have their moments of self-doubt and procrastination.

Let’s Get Busy Podcast by Matthew Winner

Winner is an elementary school librarian, and his podcasts are a celebration of books and how they’re made. He interviews picture book authors and illustrators as well as middle grade authors, and uncovers fascinating stories about their research and inspiration. Winner also has a tendency, when excited, to say “oh my word!,” which is incredibly charming.

Brain Burps by Katie Davis

I recently discovered these chatty podcasts with children’s book luminaries. They often have a business bent, on topics like marketing or the effective use of social media.

TED Talks

These aren’t focused on middle grade, of course, but I couldn’t leave this topic without pointing out a few great talks for writers. Mac Barnett has a fantastic talk on wonder and writing for children. Andrew Stanton, the filmmaker who did Wall-E and Toy Story, gives excellent tips on storytelling. Finally, Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on creativity is a classic.

I’d love to hear in the comments about any other writing podcasts you’ve enjoyed. Happy listening!

Katharine Manning writes middle grade novels and has three kids under ten. She reviews middle grade books at Kid Book List. You can find her on Twitter @SuperKate and online at www.katharinemanning.com.  


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Kate Hillyer
Kate Hillyer writes, runs, and drinks plenty of tea in our Nation's Capitol. She is a poetry judge for the Cybils, and blogs here and at The Winged Pen. An essay she wrote appears in the anthology Raised by Unicorns. You can find her at www.katehillyer.com and on Twitter as @SuperKate.
  1. Thank you so much – this is perfect for my morning walks!

  2. One more podcast add to your list: Book Club for Kids interviews middle grade authors as well!

  3. I love this list– lots to add to my phone now! I also listen to FirstDraft with Sara Enni.

  4. I like Writing Excuses http://www.writingexcuses.com/ Short and peppy. The Author Biz http://theauthorbiz.com/ and The Creative Penn http://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/ I haven’t tried listening to individual authors, but it sounds fun!

  5. Thank you for this list, Katharine! I was just organizing podcasts on my phone to make room for new ones, and I was wishing for new (to me) writing ones. These all sound excellent. One of my favorites is The Narrative Breakdown with Cheryl Klein (editor at Arthur A. Levine Books) and James Monohan (screenwriter). They have guests each episode, and they cover aspects of writing that can apply to any genre and most age groups. Lots of good middle grade writing advice!

    • Oh, I will definitely check that one out, too. I love Cheryl Klein’s Second Sight. Thank you!