Meet the Authors

Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

Portrait of Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

Wife-and-husband writing team Patricia and Fredrick McKissack began collaborating in the early 1980s, when they both faced turning points in their careers. Fredrick had been a civil engineer and then a construction worker. Patricia had been a junior high English teacher and then a children's book editor. One day Fredrick asked Patricia, "If you could do anything you want to do in this whole wide world for the rest of your life, what would you do?" Patricia responded, "Write books." Fredrick said he'd like to join her. So the two of them, with the help of their three young sons, set out to make that dream come true.

Now, nearly 100 books and 20 years later, the McKissacks' partnership is as strong as ever. Most of the books they write together are biographies and nonfiction books about the history of African Americans. (On her own, Patricia also writes fiction.) Fredrick likes doing the research for their books, and Patricia prefers writing, but both of them shape every book together. Fredrick says the couple works so closely that they "even sigh at the same time."

Patricia McKissack has sound advice for would-be writers, particularly African Americans: "Today I would be appalled if a teacher told a child that he or she can't make a living as a writer, because you can. It's hard work, but you can make a living. And we need more black voices; we need different points of view."

Photography Credit


Other Books Written by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

  • A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter
  • Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?
  • Jesse Owens: Olympic Star
  • Paul Robeson: A Voice to Remember
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett: A Voice against Violence
    (illustrated by Ned Ostendorf)
  • Young, Black, and Determined: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry
  • Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers
  • African-American Inventors
  • Red-Tail Angels: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II
  • Rebels Against Slavery
  • Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
    (illustrated by John Thompson)