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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Bill Morris Luncheon: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

The Bill Morris Author Luncheon, YALSA YA Lit Symposium, November 6.

The Bill Morris Author Luncheon is named for William C. Morris, yes, the same Morris of the Book Award for a YA Debut Award. It’s all part of the Morris Endowment.

The featured speaker was Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, author of Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, U.S. Marshal (Lerner, 2009). Bad News for Outlaws is the 2010 Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award Winner.

The luncheon began outside; it was chilly, but in a tent, and (as readers know) I am the Queen of Cardigans and Scarves, so I was quite prepared. After the luncheon part, we moved inside where I could remove one of the cardigans. 

Nelson spoke about her books; both about picture books for older readers as well as making decisions on whether to write a story as non-fiction or fiction.

On picture books for older readers: “you are never too old for a picture book.” Picture books can be an effective way to introduce topics to teens, such as history, language, social activism, civics and writing. She described teens as “one big organic heart filled with emotion.”

Who Will I Be, Lord (Random House, 2009) is another one of Nelson’s books, a work she described as “faction,” with created material plus real people. Nelson explained how it began as a straight biography but realized that biography didn’t give her her the freedom in writing. Plus, using a “documentary fiction” allowed her to address gaps in stories as well as flat-out contradictions.

Thanks, again, to RIF.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is