Author, essayist, and poet Dia Calhoun won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature for her novel Aria of the Sea. Three of her eight novels are American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. Calhoun’s contemporary novel Eva of the Farm was a Hornbook Magazine Best Verse Novel. Reviewing Calhoun’s most recent book, After the River the Sun School Library Journal wrote—“Lovers of gaming and Arthurian legends will thoroughly enjoy this one.” Calhoun’s 7:30 BELLS blog essays explore creativity and inspiration. 

Calhoun is a cofounder of the literacy social media project, readergirlz, recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize. Calhoun has taught at Seattle University and the Cornish College of Arts. She currently offers private coaching in writing to kids and adults. 

Calhoun lives beside the wild Nisqually River in Washington state. Not only does the natural world inspire her writing, it’s also the basis for her new work as a sculptor. 

WONDER AND REFUGE: My Lifelong Passion for Children's Literature

My passion for children’s literature began in my elementary school library, where I found both wonder and refuge. After six years there, I could walk past the shelves and feel new worlds waiting, feel beloved books calling to me like old friends. There was The Secret Garden. There, The Wind in the Willows. My passion continued at Mills College when I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase during breaks from studying for English Lit exams. And it has blossomed over the past fifteen years as I wrote and published eight novels for children and teens from ages eight to sixteen.

Of course, given my young readers, my books explore themes of coming of age. Another of my recurring themes is the relationship between light and dark in the human spirit. But the literary theme I return to again and again is the way nature brings us fully alive. This emerged in my first three novels, Firegold, Aria of the Sea, and White Midnight, all young adult fantasy novels. The theme came to the forefront in my seventh novel, my first realistic, contemporary book, Eva of the Farm, written for middle school children. But not until my eighth novel, After the River the Sun, a companion volume to Eva of the Farm, did the theme of nature restoring the human spirit come roaring to life.

Inspired by my love of my father-in-law’s commercial apple orchard in the Methow Valley, After the River the Sun is set in Eastern Washington. Full of guilt over his parents’ drowning death, Eckhart is a city boy who loathes the outdoors and only wants to play video games. He is sent to live with his uncle on an orchard in the Methow Valley. There, the demands, beauty, and perils of living close to nature bring Eckhart new life and hope.

In the Spring of 2013, inspired by my trip to Italy, I began 7:30 BELLS, a weekly blog post about what makes me feel most alive, what makes me ring, resonate.

For me, books and wrtiting have always combined both refuge and the wondrous prospect of new worlds. Maybe that’s the best thing about them. The continuing dream of my life is to write books that will so capture children’s hearts and minds, that they will embark on a lifetime of loving books. When sixth graders walk past my books on the library shelves, I want them to feel old friends calling and new worlds beckoning.

Dia Calhoun thinks up her best ideas while swinging in the hammock
 overlooking the Nisqually River in her back yard.

Novels by Dia Calhoun

(2013 Atheneum)

". . . an excellent book . . . a wonderful novel."
-Nancy Pearl

(2012 Atheneum)

"[Eva's] poetry sings and her spirit soars . . ."
-Karen Hesse
A Horn Book Magazine Notable Verse Novel

(2007 Marshall Cavendish) 

"The Return of Light succeeds brilliantly
as a modern Christmas fable . . ."
-Forward Magazine

(2006 Marshall Cavendish)

"the pattern Calhoun weaves is rich and complex"


(2005 Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library

(2003 Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

(2000 Winslow Press) 
(2003 Paperback, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature 
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

(1999 Winslow Press) 
(2003 Paperback, Farrar, Straus & Giroux) 

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Other Awards Include: 

Booklist Top Ten First Novel for Youth; 
Booklist Top Ten Fantasy Novel for Youth; 
Silver Medal, Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award; 
YOYA Best Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror (three times); 
Lone Star Reading List; 
International Reading Association Young Adult’s Choice; 
International Reading Association Teacher’s Choice;
A Best Children’s Book Bank Street College of Education; 
A Book Sense 76 Recommended Children’s Book.

Calhoun is a co-founder of readergirlz—
an online book community for teen girls, 
which received the prestigious Innovations in Reading Prize 
from the National Book Foundation, 
and the James Patterson Page-turner Award. 

In addition to writing, Calhoun designs logos and lettering
 for such companies as Alaska Airlines, Random House, 
Houghton Mifflin, The New York Times Magazine, 
and The Seattle Opera.  

Calhoun lives on three acres on the Nisqually River
in Washington State, with her husband, 
two indoor cats, and two outdoor cats.