Rebecca Stead from secret writer to newbery author

Rebecca Stead: From Attorney to Secret Writer to Newbery Winner!

Are you ready for an inspiring story? Rebecca Stead’s journey from lawyer to mom to secret writer to published author to Newbery Award winning author in just a few skips and a jump. Seriously, watching her writing career might make you think that Rebecca’s Newbery comes from the Lottery of God Given Talent.

But she would say otherwise. I think it’s interesting that motherhood gave her that break in her career to consider other possibilities. She became a “secret writer.” Are there any other secret writers out there? (I’m working on a chapter book!)


A secret writer is quite a modest endeavor, equal parts hope, anxiety, and butt-in-chair. And I think that’s the difference between a would-be writer and a secret writer. Discipline. Butt-in-chair. Writing 1,000 words a day. Or some set amount.

Rebecca Stead, Liar and Spy, Guys Read Other Worlds, Leslie College

Rebecca says that her biggest obstacles to writing are material and quieting her mind so that she can write. Twitter and other social media platforms are the enemy to a quiet mind. I can relate to that! She says that she is a very slow writer because she is always searching for material. Not so much like a squirrel getting ready for winter. I picture it more like her doing a 1,000 piece puzzle. She culls the pieces that need to fit just so.

Have you read Liar and Spy yet? I really loved it. Rebecca uses Georges Seurat’s Pointellism as the metaphor that shapes the story.

Georges Seurat (1859–1891) and Neo–Impressionism

In Stead’s chapter book, the dots are the stories of kids living in the same apartment building. There’s 7th grader Georges who has just moved in and attending a new school. Safer is the first friend he makes, a a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy who recruits Georges into investigating a mysterious neighbor.

Who is the Liar and who is the Spy? And when you stand back from the dots, what exactly do you see? Stead’s critics (perhaps only one annoying one) said that the story was subtle, perhaps too subtle. But is neo-impressionism too subtle? Not for the viewer who knows to look closely and then slowly back up and absorb the entire image.

Point by point. Dot by dot. Story by story. Liar and Spy does not disappoint.

Here is Rebecca reading from Liar and Spy.

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Rebecca Stead from secret writer to newbery author

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay the postage and handling for my giveaways.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Must read this now. What a great story, and inspiring, too. It’s ironic that it easier than ever (meaning more avenues) to becoming a published writer, because of the internet, yet all that social media distracts to no end.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Art Appreciation for 3rd Grade: CirclesMy Profile

  2. Love the plot line and the picture visualization is so clever!

  3. What a unique story. I like the plot. Will have to check it out.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…My Paper HouseMy Profile

  4. What an inspirational story! I remember getting “When you reach me ” for my son and he loved it so much I read it too. I can relate to Rebecca when she says “to quiet her mind” is her biggest obstacle. Social media is a killer of that. As a creative person who works from home I have to go on detox for days without it.
    Must check out those other books!
    Alma recently posted…6 More Weeks of Winter… just keep knittingMy Profile

    • Hi Alma,
      If you liked When You Reach Me, I think you’d like Liar and Spy too. Her first book sounds more action adventure oriented. I found her “quiet her mind” to be such good advice though the irony of most authors is that they need to be marketers as well. I just don’t know how authors can be on social media to be marketing their books AND write. It does seem like an impossible task.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Rebecca Stead: From Attorney to Secret Writer to Newbery Winner!My Profile

  5. This book sounds very intriguing – I want to read it!
    maryanne recently posted…Tips for Small Space Living: Four Kids in One RoomMy Profile

  6. Love this post that gives us a glimpse of Rebecca Stead and a little about her writing process. I loved When You Reach Me and also loved Liar and Spy. Stead is inspiring! This reminds me of how important it is to turn off Twitter and everything else when I’m writing. Thanks for posting this!
    Kate recently posted…Books n’ Bloggers Swap–Revealing the Books!!My Profile

    • Hi Kate,
      It’s so funny but Rebecca Stead feels a little uncomfortable with having video up about her and so I told her that those two clips are inspiring and had her preview them in order to get her permission for the post. It makes me so happy that you think her clip is inspiring too! She probably doesn’t realize how inspiring she is! 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment!!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Native American Picture Book of the Day ExplorationMy Profile

  7. I love the juxtaposition of literature and art. Thanks for hosting the KLBH once again!
    Jaymie Shook recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #32My Profile

  8. I have always liked Seurat’s painting and I’m intrigued that Stead used his painterly technique as a metaphor in her story. Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for another great post.
    Laura S. recently posted…INTERVIEW: Robin Newman Chats about her Journey into Picture Book WritingMy Profile

  9. Ann

    Very inspiring, thanks for sharing your videos!
    Ann recently posted…Inkblot Heart Valentines with PrintableMy Profile

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