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Laurie Halse Anderson has a very long name. Her middle name can be hard to pronounce. It rhymes with “waltz”. You can hear her pronounce a Teachingbooks.net.
Laurie had a hard time learning how to read and write when she was little. She got extra help from learning support teachers and caught up with the rest of her friends in third grade. Ever since then, she has done a lot of reading and writing. She is very grateful for her teachers and her school librarians.
She started making up stories as soon as she could talk. When she was a kid, she never thought she would be an author when she grew up. She thought she would be a forester or a doctor. Now she is a writer who lives in the woods and has a big garden.
Laurie’s husband, Scot, is a carpenter. He built her a special cottage for writing.
She made a video about how the cottage was built.
Laurie and Scot have four grown children and a dog. They are happiest when all the kids come home and bring their friends.
Laurie loves to write in her cottage. She writes books for readers of all ages. Even though she likes to draw, she does not illustrate her own books. She does not get to choose the cover, either.
One of her favorite parts about being an author is reading the letters that readers write to her. She also loves it when a story that she has been revising over and over finally turns out right!
Questions About Writing
Do you use a pen or pencil?
Sometimes I write with a pen, sometimes I write with a pencil, but most of the time I use my computer.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas come from everywhere: childhood memories, things that my children experienced, stories I read in the newspaper, historical facts, or things I see at the park or in an airport. Sometimes an idea will pop up in my head for no reason at all!
How long does it take to make a book?
A picture book takes three years or longer from the time I start writing until the book is on the shelf in your library. The Vet Volunteer books take about six months. They are faster because I don’t have to wait for the illustrator to draw anything. My chapter books for teenagers take a year or two. I am usually working on more than one project at a time.
Do you draw your own pictures?
I like to draw, but I’m not good enough to illustrate my own books. If I keep practicing, maybe I will be someday.
What is your writing process?
The idea strikes me first, like a bolt of lightning. I’ll sit down and brainstorm (more lightning ideas!) for a long time. I’ll draw idea-webs, where one idea spins another and another. I’ll make lists of words that all seem connected to the main thought. Sometimes I’ll hear the characters speaking and I will write down bits of their conversations. My historical books and the Vet Volunteers series books all need strong outlines. The books I write for teenagers don’t.
After the outline is written, I write the first draft. This is the hardest part of writing for me. My first drafts always stink. My favorite part of writing comes next: revision!! I LOVE revising my books because it always makes them better. My picture books can be revised 30 or 40 times. Most chapter books get seven revisions.
Questions About Books
When did you publish your first book?
My first book, NDITO RUNS, was published in 1996. I felt very proud!
How many books have you published?
27….. so far.
Is it hard to have a book published?
It’s easy to make your own book that you want to share with your family and friends. It is hard to make a book that a publishing company will sell in a bookstore. That is why I revise my stories so much. I want them to be the best work I can do.
COMING SOON!! PHOTO ESSAY ON THE PUBLICATION PROCESS!! BE SURE TO CHECK BACK HERE OR SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER
What happens if you don’t like the pictures that your illustrator draws?
If the illustrator has made a mistake (like putting a modern computer in a book set in 1776) I can politely point that out and ask him to change it. But the style of the illustrations is completely up to the illustrator. The author is not the boss of the book. The author and the illustrator are teammates who work together to create a book that readers will enjoy.
What advice do you have for young authors?
I have three pieces of advice:
1. Read every day.
2. Write every day.
3. Make sure that you keep writing as a fun thing to do.
Other Important Questions
What books are you working on right now?
I am working on three picture books (two of them are about famous Americans during the Revolution, the other one is just silly), more Vet Volunteer books, and more chapter books.
Do you get bored?
I get bored when I have to clean my office. When I am lost in my imagination, I am never bored.
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite season?
What is your favorite book of all the books you’ve written?
Impossible to choose.
What is your favorite television show?
Most TV shows bore me. I’d rather read.
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Pumpkin. Or chocolate almond. Or anything with coffee.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I like to hang out with my family, read, draw, work in the garden, go camping, or run.