Publishers' Preview: Fall 2022: Five Questions for Tae Keller

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2022 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Fall 2022, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored by

In Mihi Ever After, the titular heroine and her two friends walk into fairyland through the back of a…refrigerator. As The Clash would ask, should they stay or should they go?

1. Were you ever subjected to what your book calls “indoor recess” and what I call detention?

Ha, I was quite the goody two-shoes in school, so I never got sent in for indoor recess. That’s part of what’s made Mihi such fun to write; she’s so different from me at that age, and she tends to form big, bold plans without entirely thinking them through. I was more like Mihi’s friends, Reese and Savannah, who actually chose indoor recess. It was a good time to read!

2. What secret princess-y desire do you herein announce to the world?

I’ve always wanted magic to be real. This was true when I was Mihi’s age, and it’s still true now. It’s why I write. Writing books sometimes feels like magic — and writing for kids, even more so.

3. Who was your favorite princess in childhood? Now?

Like many bookish children, I loved Belle, and spent many Halloweens dressed as her. Now, with movies like Moana and Raya and the Last Dragon, I love that Disney’s starting to expand their portrayal of who “gets” to be a princess. For better or worse, Disney has a huge influence on our culture and on kids’ idea of who they’re supposed to be. There’s still a long way to go regarding diversity — from cultural backgrounds, to body types and traditional beauty standards, to sexuality — and I hope Disney continues in that direction.

4. Which supporting characters in fairy tales are most unfairly dismissed?

Villains! I’m not sure if they’re unfairly dismissed, necessarily, but I always want to hear more about them. I’m writing the second Mihi book now, which focuses on ­villains, and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

5. What is your favorite portal fantasy?

I’ve always loved portal fantasies, and for many years, that was my absolute favorite genre to read. I loved the classics, from the Narnia books to the Magic Treehouse series. But my all-time favorite was a series called Avalon: Web of Magic. In fourth grade, I introduced it to my best friend, and we “played” it every day during recess.

Sponsored by

Photo: Saavedra Photography.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.