If you are thinking about writing me a letter or an e-mail, read this first and maybe you will find that your questions are already answered!
It makes me sigh in exhaustion when I am asked that question because it is simply one for which there isn’t any answer. And yet everyone asks it! Ideas come from your imagination. What triggers your imagination? Things that you read, see, overhear, dream, or wonder about. Anything that makes you think: “What if…? ” is the start of a story.
Yes, but how did you get the idea for The Giver?
If you read the acceptance speech for the Newbery Medal, it tries to answer that question.
I’m sorry. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself. But I simply don’t have time to visit schools any more.
Yes, if you send it with return postage. E-mail me if you have a book to send and I will tell you how to go about it.
I used to do that. But I have run out of stuff to send. (Do you know that authors have to buy their own books? We don’t have stacks of them sitting around). So I am not able to send donations; I get too many requests…maybe ten a week. Just can’t do it!
Reading is the best way to learn to write well. Read as much as you can. Think about what you read: how the author made it interesting, or funny, or suspenseful. And write as much as you can, too. Keep a journal. Get together with friends who enjoy writing, and read things aloud to each other and talk about them.
No, sorry. I can’t do that. I’m not a teacher and I don’t teach writing. And I have very little time. I get a zillion emails every day, and answering them briefly is all I can manage.
There are a few magazines that publish things by kids (look in a book called Writer’s Markets to find them, and also for instructions on how to submit things). But my personal opinion is that you should not worry about “being published.” You should enjoy writing, and writing more and more, so that you become better at it. I always sort of cringe when I hear, “I want to be a published writer” from a kid. I’d rather hear, “I love to write.”
But I want to be rich and famous.
I have a Tibetan terrier named Alfie who is one of my best friends: a very cuddly, affectionate guy. He’s getting old now! But so am I, so we’re a good match.
They all write very well. But each of them chose another profession. Maybe they saw, from watching me, how hard it is to make a living as a writer!
Oh, yes. I think when people can be anonymous, by not signing their name, they like to use it as a way of being hateful. I just delete those emails. But I feel kind of sorry for those kids, because they missed out on an opportunity to have a conversation with an author. If a kid writes me and says simply, “Your book sucks” I delete the email and don’t reply and I never think about it again. But if they say, “I didn’t much like your book for the following reasons…” then I read it with interest; maybe I learn from it; and I will answer it.
You know the emails I most dislike, though? Even if a kid loves a book? Ones that use abbreviated spelling and no punctuation, like the example below. It would be so easy—and helpful—to PUNCTUATE! And it seems sloppy not to bother. I sometimes write back and ask them to send the question, or comments, again, with punctuation, so that I can understand what they are saying.
dear lois I had to read yr book the giver in school and I tht I wld hate it but it turned out to be okay cuz I liked that guy jonas he was like cool why don’t you wrote more about him I would prolly read those boks if u wrot them okay?
Yes. And I’m going back to it right now.