Matt de la Pena photo by Heather Waraksa.Matt is available for readings, conference keynotes, school/library visits at any grade level, and special presentations throughout the year.

For all event details please contact Matt’s assistant, Marina Addison, at:

Or you can contact Lisa McClatchy to set up an event through Random House:

For all press-related inquiries please contact Matt’s publicist,  Lindsay Boggs at:

For inquiries about film/TV rights contact Matt’s literary agent, Steve Malk, at:

Say hi to Matt here (for all non-event-related emails only):

Join Matt on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.


What type of presentations do you give?
If you’d like to get a general sense of where I’m coming from as an author/speaker, please check out this essay I wrote for NPR about the power of literature and reading.

I have four main presentations. The first centers around my journey from reluctant reader to author (most frequently requested). I talk about my novels a little, but the focus of this presentation is the transformative nature of literature. I didn’t fall for books until I was in college — I got there on a basketball scholarship — but once I did, it changed my life. I also talk about the power of education.

My second presentation is geared toward elementary school audiences. I talk a little about my personal journey (described above), but the focus of this presentation is on the picture books themselves. I read the books (while showing the images) and tell my audience secret things about the stories and we discuss recurring themes like wonder and gratitude and love and how proud I am to come from a working class background.

My third presentation (geared toward middle school, high school and college) focuses on the books. I talk about my inspiration for each story and character and my fascination with the real world. Sometimes, I explain to students, I’m not sure if I’m writing books or just plagiarizing the world. We talk about what that means and how each of us own an important story.

My fourth presentation is a creative writing lecture/workshop. In addition to writing books, I’ve also taught creative writing at NYU, San Diego State, Vermont College and now Hamline University.

If it’s a keynote, and I’m presenting to a big crowd, and I’m a little nervous . . . that’s when I weave my own story into my old man’s inspiring literary awakening.

I’m open to other ideas as well.

How do I go about setting up a visit?
Please contact my assistant, Marina Addison, and she will work through all the details with you: schedule, author fee, logistics, etc.

Or if you’d prefer to go through Random House, please contact Lisa McClatchy.

All right, how the heck are we supposed to pronounce your last name?
Funny you should ask. The good people at let me talk a little about that here: Hear the recording here.

What inspired you to write Mexican WhiteBoy?
MWB was definitely a very personal journey for me. Growing up half Mexican I was often confused in terms of my own racial identity. I believe as the mixed race population continues to grow, more and more kids will find themselves asking similar questions. To hear more about this, and to listen to me read an excerpt, go here.

What about We Were Here?
I follow another mixed-race character in this book. The book was also inspired by two major elements that I pulled from my own experience. First, for two years I worked in a group home in San Jose, California. These kids were just out of juvi and “troubled,” but many of them also had an incredible amount of heart. I wanted to reveal their hearts to readers. Also, I had a basketball teammate in college who had unintentionally committed an awful, unthinkable crime. I often watched him in social settings. Sometimes he would laugh and joke with the rest of the team, then he’d drift away, his eyes emptying out. He allowed me to use his crime in We Were Here. I also explore the concept of existentialism as it applies to kids who are moved out of regular society. These kids have dreams, too.

The novel is my ode to some of the literature that inspired me to pick up a pen myself including: Of Mice and Men, The Color Purple and Catcher in the Rye.

How are The Living and The Hunted different from your other novels?
There’s an earthquake. And a tsunami. And Shy’s life is in danger a few different times in the novel. But thematically it’s similar to my previous four novels. It’s a study of race and class in America. Shy, a half Mexican teen boy, takes a summer job on a luxury cruise ship where he finds himself interacting with the one percent. This is his first experience with the “haves.”

I think every writer of color is moved to write a book “about” race. That book for me is Mexican WhiteBoy. But in The Living and The Hunted I wanted to take a mixed-race character and place him in a “bigger” context. The race exploration is more subversive, I think. And the contextual story takes center stage.

Do you still play basketball?
Definitely not as well. It’s kind of sad, man. I wrote a bit about my current relationship with hoop here.

You write picture books, too. What was that transition like, going from novel writing to picture book writing?
I feel so lucky to be able to do both. Writing a picture book is like going back to my roots actually. I started out writing spoken word poetry all through high school. I take the same approach to writing a picture book. My first job is to get the story right. But then I have to get the music right. And I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible illustrators.

Dude, you won a Newbery Medal? What’s that all about? Can you tell us a little about getting “the call”?

Dude, you won a Newbery Medal? What’s THAT all about? Can you tell us about getting “the call”?
No, sorry. It’s best if I only talk about this in person. I don’t even know why. But I’d love it if you’d check out my speech instead. That’s everything I wanted to say about me and books and awards. You can read it here. Or you can watch it here.