The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College




- Joyce Hansen -


Joyce Hansen is a very dedicated hard worker. She is a positive role model, both in her teaching and writing careers.

Ms. Hansen was born and raised in the Bronx, in a community that valued a strong work ethic despite very difficult lives. Hansen's goal is to provide her readers with a different image of life in the Bronx. Throughout her life, Hansen has tried to teach American children that living in a poor neighborhood does not mean that a person cannot be successful.


The following are my responses to your questions. Thank you for your interest in my books and writing.

1. How do you come up with ideas for your books? Did it come from personal experiences?

My ideas for my contemporary novels come from the world around me. For example, the characters I created for The Gift-Giver, Home Boy, & Yellow Bird and Me are based on childhood friends, my students and relatives. My historical novels are inspired by small incidents that are part of large historical events.

2. Who and what do you read? Who or what influenced your writing?

For the past few years I've been reading historical texts for the research I do for my historical fiction and non-fiction. I like, though contemporary women's fiction as well as classics. I still enjoy reading Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

My mother was a great influence. She introduced me to books at a very young age, and passed on her love of reading and writing to me.

3. How do you structure your information for your books? How long does it take to write?

I try to weave my information within the narrative so that it becomes a natural part of the story and does not intrude. It takes me from 1-2 years to complete a novel. About a month to complete a short story.

4. When did you first want to become a writer? Why did you become a young adult author? And how did you first get published?

I began to dream of becoming a writer when I was in high school. I think I became a young adult author because I taught teenagers for 22 years. I sent out my manuscripts and stories to publishers and after many rejections my first children's novel, The Gift-Giver was accepted.

5. What is your least favorite and favorite book that you've written?

I do not have a least favorite book. All of them required so much work, so much blood, sweat and tears that they are all a part of me and I care for all of them, like a mother who loves her bad children as well as her good ones. Right now my favorite book is I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly. I think it is my best book.

6. Was there a student in one of your classes that had dyslexia, such as Bird in Yellow Bird and Me?

I taught dyslexic students and had many students like Yellow bird.

7. What inspired you to write about the Civil War?

I wrote about the Civil War because I think that it is one of the most complex and interesting periods in American history.

8. Do you like writing fiction or non-fiction books better? Why?

I like writing both fiction and non-fiction. I started out as a fiction writer, but in the past few years I've enjoyed the challenge of writing non-fiction and trying to make it interesting and informative.

9. Is you family supportive of your books? Do they read them? Give you ideas?

My family is very supportive. They have inspired many of my stories and novels.

10. What is the most important thing you have learned from all of your writings?

I have learned that a writer must be patient, and not give up when the writing is difficult. I have learned also that rewriting is the most important part of the writing process.

I hope my responses are helpful to you. Thanks again for your interest.

Joyce Hansen

Page compiled in part by: Rich Denningham, Cheryl Rizzardi, Jenny Rommel, and Judy Stuart

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This web page was last updated on: 21 June 2007

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