Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of books for middle-grade readers, including the The New York Times bestseller Ghost Boys (2018) and the 2011 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Ninth Ward (the first book in the Louisiana Girls Trilogy)
In this interview, Jewell talks about writing stories that explore tough topics like racism and violence, finding an authentic voice for her characters, how her books invite in reluctant readers, why she loves writing for kids, and much more.
Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child.
She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She has written novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, but writing for children has always been her dream.
Jewell's children’s books include The New York Times bestseller Ghost Boys and the Louisiana Girls Trilogy of Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. When she’s not writing, Jewell visits schools to talk about her books with the kids who read them. She also teaches writing at Arizona State University, where she is the Piper Endowed Chair and Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Jewell earned a Master’s degree and a Doctor of Arts from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She lives with her husband in San Jose, California, along with two toy sheepdogs and a cat. She's the proud mother of a daughter and a son, and the very proud grandmother of a young granddaughter.