If you read my books, this might be of interest to you.
Once, I was a child. And then I was a teenager. As you can see from these pictures, I had some scary moments in my adolescence—Note the curlers in my hair, the skinny legs, the shirt rolled up in a way I thought was cute! But even when I was young, I knew I wanted to write and that I wanted to write about stuff that was important to me. Even as a kid, I was watching the world and taking note. Everything I saw and everything I did informed me. Even today—my ideas come from all over the place. Something small like a little girl in a pink dress crossing the street with a grandparent to something big like the day the World Trade Center went down—gets into my mind and stays there until it becomes something else—a book, a story, a moment that I’ll always remember.
My work is not always physically autobiographical. But it is always emotionally autobiographical—Every feeling my characters have had is a feeling I have had. The small and big moments in my life aren’t necessarily my life once they reach the pages. For example, Behind You was inspired by that day in September that we will remember always—9/11/2001. The book is not about that event—the event doesn’t even get mentioned. But the characters feel the same things the people who experienced that day felt—loss, sadness, shock, and eventually, a sense of healing.
Coming on Home Soon is a story that takes place decades before I was even born, but I know what it’s like to have to say goodbye to someone you love so even though the story is made up, the feelings in it are familiar.
Locomotion is the story of an eleven year old boy and since I’ve never been an eleven year old boy, I probably shouldn’t be able to tell that story. But I’ve been eleven and I know what it feels like the first time a teacher says “This is good!” So that’s where I revisit in my head when I’m trying to figure out how to tell Lonnie’s story.
The way you learn to write is by reading. Read the same books over and over. Study them as you would study a textbook. How does the author get you to feel sad? Angry? Surprised? Turn off your television and write for a half hour. Tell YOUR stories. The world is anxious to hear them!
Above all—Keep reading and writing!