Michigan native Lisa Jenn Bigelow is the critically acclaimed author of the middle grade novels Hazel’s Theory of Evolution (2019), winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s/Middle Grade, and Drum Roll, Please (2018), an Illinois Reads selection and Michigan Notable Book; and the young adult novel Starting from Here (2012), an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten Book. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she serves as a youth librarian in the Chicago suburbs during her non-writing hours.
Where do you get your ideas?
While none of my books is autobiographical, they are all rooted in experiences, interests, and settings of personal significance to me. I’m a native Midwesterner, and I love the geography and culture of the Great Lakes region. I love dogs and music, though I’ve never had a tripod dog and don’t play the drums in particular. And, perhaps most importantly, it is vital to me as a queer person to feature queer characters in my stories.
Who are your influences?
I’ve always read in a broad range of genres, but so far my published writing has been most heavily influenced by the contemporary realistic fiction I enjoyed as a young reader: think Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, 1980s Lois Lowry and Patricia Reilly Giff.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I could never pick just one! However, these were some favorites:
- The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander
- Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
- A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The House of Thirty Cats, by Mary Calhoun
- The Dark Is Rising Sequence, by Susan Cooper
- Danny, Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl
- Maurice, by E. M. Forster
- Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden
- The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
- The House of Dies Drear, by Virginia Hamilton
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg
- A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
- The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
- The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien