Photo by Rebecca Dudley

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