Children's Book Author
I had dreams of being a writer when I was in elementary school. And I began submitting stories to children's book publishers when I was fifteen, but my early writing was rejected. In school I read about French and American writers living and working in Paris, and I wanted to do the same. At seventeen I flew by myself to France for the first time and traveled across Europe by train. I took a year off before going to Brown University and worked as a puppeteer and a chambermaid in Avignon, France.
My other love was for sports. I was very athletic and started rock-climbing on my fourteenth birthday. I first climbed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Green Mountains of Vermont. And then I looked for bigger peaks in the French and Swiss Alps and in the Himalaya.
In 1986 my mother and I went around the world. One day I stood on a mountain path, staring at Mt. Everest (Tibetans call it Chomo Lungma), and I decided to write a children’s book about the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. In 1987 I was invited to live with a Tibetan family in Dharamsala, India. I spent weeks following my eight-year-old Tibetan friend, Tenzin Choegyal, and studying his life in the Tibetan refugee village. I wrote an article about him for Highlights for Children. Then I interviewed the 14th Dalai Lama for my first two children’s books, To the Lion Throne and The 14th Dalai Lama. That interview ignited my career, and I traveled to Burma, China, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand to see more of Asia and research other book topics.
I live in New Orleans, Louisiana with my husband, Hans, and son, Christoph, both passionate guitarists. In 2005, Christoph, his grandmother, and I were trapped in a building in downtown New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. We were evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the building and taken out of the flooded city. We did not return home for five months. We lived on Nantucket and made many new friends. That’s where I researched my book Marshall: A Nantucket Sea Rescue. I escaped one natural disaster and wrote about another.
(I want to thank Chelle Rudelson for her work on my first website, and Everette Hebert for his great redesign and regular upkeep.)
Get book updates, find interesting links and engage Whitney in conversation about her books on her new Author's Blog located here.
The Whitney Stewart papers at the deGrummond collection