It’s Katherine, writing from a crowded café in Mumbai. The fact that it’s monsoon season is actually quite convenient; my raincoat has extra pockets for my grappling hook and stun gun.

Sometimes people ask me if I’m planning on writing a book about my adventures. Unfortunately, the honest answer to that question is no, because it would be all kinds of impossible. I barely have enough time in between missions to write a blog post, let alone a book (as it is, sometimes I write my posts during my missions, like right now for example). And even if I did manage to type up a whole book, there are about twenty-three government agencies that would erase the files immediately.

So I’ll leave the book-writing to the professionals. Eileen Spinelli, for example.

In case you missed it, Ahna and I discussed Eileen and her impressive number of books during our coffee break yesterday.

We had a good deal of information about Eileen Spinelli on our database, but — maybe just out of curiosity for the life I’ll never have — I wanted to know what an author’s life was really like. And because I don’t ask questions without the intention of finding the answers, I reached out to Eileen (having a deep cover as an editorial assistant has its advantages) and obtained the information I was looking for.

What’s your favorite thing about being an author?

My favorite thing about being a writer is hearing from readers who have been touched by my work.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

My advice for aspiring writers is twofold:

Read, read, read!

Write, write, write!

What do you think you’d be if you weren’t a writer?

If I weren’t a writer, I would like to be involved in theater — behind the scenes. I love, love, love the theater.

Any job comes with its share of memorable moments. For example, I still remember the first time I bungee-jumped off the roof of a skyscraper and the excitement I felt when I learned that The Right Word had won the Sibert Medal and a Caldecott Honor. So I asked Eileen if she had any memorable author moments. She immediately responded with some very funny anecdotes:

When our grandson Ryan was about seven, he was at the house browsing through the books I had written. He looked at me and said, “Granny, how come you didn’t write the Magic Tree House books? Those are my favorites.”


One day I was working on Now It Is Winter. I went right to my desk after breakfast — in my blue flannel nightie. I was revising something, and our granddaughter Angel came over. I told her I was having a bit of trouble with the manuscript, and she said: “Maybe if you dressed more professionally, Grandma.”


I was at a school many years ago giving a book talk. Afterwards a little girl came up to me and said, “Mrs. Spinelli, I love your books so much. When I grow up, I’ll get in touch and take you to lunch. If you’re not dead yet.”

Oh, I’ve just spotted a smoke signal from one of my associates (how they managed to start a fire in this weather is beyond me). Time to get back to work.

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About Coffee Break Confidential:

This monthly column is where EBYR editorial assistant/vlogger/superspy Katherine Gibson divulges extra information from Coffee Break with EBYR that would otherwise be kept off the record. She’s researching topics related to children’s literature, posting her findings — and taking down some powerful militarized governments in the process. Just kidding about that last one. (Or are we?)