Bolden told more than 100 guests at Clyde's Gallery Place, Washington, D.C., that her extensive research helps her get into her characters and connect with the people she is writing about.
“I want not just the facts. That's an encyclopedia. I want to touch people.” She feels she is following in the footsteps of her mother, who could “track down anything with just a phone and a phone book." Her parents had less than a high school education, but Bolden writes because “they valued books.”
Bolden was nine years old when Martin Luther King was assassinated. “I am a child of the dream. I didn't have to march. I write because others made it possible for me.”
She tells young readers who think she is already old that “when I am all the way old, I want you to be informed so you can be in charge and make decisions.” She expects her books to be a springboard – she is “kicking it to the reader.”
Next Bolden will be publishing How to Build a Museum, in time for the fall 2016 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. She is also working on a young adult novel about Sherman's Civil War march to the sea.