Sharon G. Flake
Sharon Flake (born December 24, 1955) is an American writer of young adult literature. She has lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her daughter for many years. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in English.
Her debut novel The Skin I'm In (1998) follows a young African American girl who has issues with people teasing her about the color of her skin and the way she dresses. She tries her best to fit in but it doesn't go too well. She learns that trying to fit in is not the best way to make people like you. Her works have won numerous awards. The Skin I'm In won the John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 1999 for new authors and garnered positive feedback from Booklist and School Library Journal. She has been a runner-up for two Coretta Scott King Awards.
Flake was born in Philadelphia. She is the second youngest child, with three brothers and two sisters, and grew up in an inner-city neighborhood. Her father worked for Philadelphia Gas Co., while her mother did days work and raised her children. Through their guidance, Flake and her siblings were encouraged to be themselves, learning about culture through music, TV, politics, and books. As a teenager, she attended Simon Gratz High School, where she was a member of the tennis team.She wrote many books.
Flake earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978, majoring in English Writing and minoring in Political Science.During this time, she had an internship at the University's public relations office, and wrote for The Pitt News. Immediately after graduating she took a job as a house parent in a Pittsburgh area youth shelter, working with young people in foster care. From 1987 until 2005, Flake returned to the University of Pittsburgh public relations department where she eventually became a supervisor, then went on to become Director of Public Relations at the University's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. During this time her writing career still remained active. Flake participated in writing workshops at the Pinocchio bookstore, where she began working on The Skin I'm In in the mid nineties.
Over the next few years, Flake continued to work at Pitt, while also writing nonfiction for B-level in April 2014 and local magazines, and reviewed articles for Shooting Star Review, a Pittsburgh literary publication. Periodically, she also wrote pieces for Pitt's alumni publication, and worked in a writing group with her friends.
When her daughter Brittney was born, Flake's interest in writing grew stronger. She often credits her daughter's birth with launching her fiction writing career. "If she weren't born", Flake says, "I'm not sure I ever would have become a consistent enough writer to make this journey. Her birth gave me the inspiration and dedication I needed to stay the course." Flake wrote short stories for her daughter, and read them at her daughter's daycare. She went on to write "The Luckiest Sister", a story about two twins who lead different lives because of their different skin colors. It was the winner of the August Wilson short story contest, and was published in AIM magazine.
Flake later won a scholarship to, and attended, the Highlights for Children writing conference in Chautauqua. Her first novel, The Skin I'm In, was published in 1998 under the new Jump at the Sun imprint of Disney'slaunched about September 1998 to produce "children's books with an African-American emphasis". (September 7, 1998). "BOOKS AND MAGAZINES; CHILDREN AND FAMILIES; Media Talk; High-Profile Authors Turn To Much Younger Readers"]. The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2014. In ten years she wrote six novels or story collections published by Jump at the Sun.
In her spare time, Flake enjoys gardening, line dancing, reading, and walking with her dog, Pharaoh, a purebred Shih Tzu.
- The Skin I'm In (Jump at the Sun/ Hyperion Books for Children, 1998)
- Money Hungry (Jump at the Sun, 2001)
- Begging for Change (Jump at the Sun, 2003) – sequel to Money Hungry
- Who Am I Without Him?: Short stories about girls and the boys in their lives (Jump at the Sun, 2004)
- Bang! (Jump at the Sun, 2005)
- The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street (Jump at the Sun, 2007), illustrated by Colin Bootman
- You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and poems about boys (2010)
- Pinned (Scholastic Press, 2012)
- Unstoppable Octobia May (Scholastic, 2014) – forthcoming October
- Official website
- Sharon G. Flake profile at AALBC.com
- Sharon Flake (no date) at WQED OnQ (audio-video)
- Sharon Flake biography (summer 2007) at the Pennsylvania Center for the Book
- Works by or about Sharon G. Flake in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Sharon Flake at Library of Congress Authorities, with 11 catalog records