and Fredrick McKissack have known each other almost their entire lives.
"We grew up in the same town, where every family knew every other
family," Pat recalls. Fred proposed to Pat on their second date,
and they were married four months later. That was in 1964 the
same year they graduated from college. It was also a time of great
changes, with the civil rights movement in full swing.
a time of nonviolent change," Fred says. "Life actually
changed for us all. In a sense we marched from the Old South to
a new America. We moved from being a segregated society toward a
nation that tried to live up to its constitutional guarantees."
The fact that children today find it difficult to understand what
it was like to live during that period inspires the McKissacks to
make the past come alive for young readers.
the reasons we write for children is to introduce them to African
and African-American history and historical figures and to get them
to internalize the information not just academically, but also emotionally.
We want them to feel the tremendous amount of hurt and sadness that
racism and discrimination cause all people, regardless of race,"
Pat and Fredrick
have co-written more than 50 books. Fred is the researcher, while
Pat does the writing. Their titles include: Sojourner Truth:
Ain't I a Woman?, Jesse Jackson: A Biography, Frederick Douglass:
The Black Lion, and many more. "There is no magic formula
for writing books together. Pat and I talk all the time," says
talking through a project, we outline it," continues Pat. "Then
Fred does most of the digging and the research, and I write it up
on the computer and run off a hard copy. Fred fact-checks and refines
it, and then gives it back to me so that I can add his changes and
any more of my own."
we run off another hard copy and we keep doing that until the manuscript
satisfies us both," says Fred.
up every morning and go to work like folks who have regular jobs.
Our office is in our home, so we simply go downstairs to go to work.
We try to start work between 9 and 9:30 a.m., and we work until
we finish what we set out to do that day. It's a nice blend, working
together; we don't sent memos back and forth because we're so close,
" says Pat.