Sleep is a great thing. I got 11 hours of it last night and I feel superhuman. I woke up a couple times during the night and didn’t know where I was. I have five more weeks of travel ahead. By the end of this spring I’m going to have to get my name and home address tattooed on my arm so when I wake up – confused – at night, I’ll know who I am and where I belong.
OK, let’s dump the mail on the floor and sort through it.
A teacher named Kristi writes: My drama students think Speak would make a great play. (I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I think I’ll agree with them.) Is there a script, and if so who is the publisher? If not, would the rights to produce a stage adaptation be for sale, and if so, how much?
As far as I know the stage play right to Speak have not been acquired yet. The publisher of the hardback, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, holds them. Ask for the subsidiary rights person in their children’s division, she’ll be able to help you. I have no clue what they might cost.
Alicia from Hannibal wrote with 10 questions about Speak.
1. Did you write Speak based on yours, or someone you knows life experience?
It’s about 10% my experience, the rest is made up.
2. Why did you write Speak?
I had a strong sense of the character and I wanted to write about her.
3. If you were Melinda, what would you have done in her situations?
Probably acted out and gotten in trouble.
4. You use many symbols to describe Melinda, do any of these symobls fit
I love this question. I think the image system of someone struggling to find their voice perfectly matches my ongoing challenge as a writer. And I’d like to think I’m always growing, so the whole tree thing fits, too. I don’t have the issues with mirrors that I used to have. I like the way I look now, and don’t give a rat’s behind about what anyone else thinks.
5. Are you like Melinda in any way?
The way she is confused and filled with doubts (and occasionally self-loathing) is a part of who I was at 14.
6. Speak takes place in the Syracuse area, did you attend school there, or
grow up in the neighborhood?
I lived in and around Syracuse from the time I was 5 until I left for Washington, DC at 19.
7. How long did it take you to write Speak?
One year, seven drafts.
8. If you could pick one character in Speak to be most like you, who would
I’d like to think I have the integrity to be like Mr. Freeman.
9. Can you express the importance of speaking up?
Another great question. Speaking up about the pain you are in, or when a bad thing has happened to you, is the hardest thing for any teen or kid to do. (It’s hard for adults, too!) Here is what I know about pain: pain doesn’t go away until you deal with it. Pain is like a bad smell. You can try to cover it up, but it keeps coming back until you find the source and remove it. You have to choose – do I control the pain by dealing with it, or do I ignore it, and let the pain control me?
Kids who don’t speak up and who let their pain control them wind up making things worse for themselves. They are the kids who are cutting, starving, overeating, drinking, drugging, being violent, suicidal, and/or having dangerous sexual encounters. Something has gone wrong in their lives, and they won’t talk about it (or don’t know who to talk to), so they drown the pain in those sad behaviors. Which make things worse – way worse.
If you are in pain, you have to speak up about it. Speaking up is a brave thing to do and it will change your life. If the first person (or the second) is a jerk about what you tell them, then find someone else – preferably a loving, trustworthy adult who knows a few things about the world and can help you.
For all of you teenagers who are reading this – I love you. Lots of adults love you. You guys are the most important thing we have – our children, the next generation. It kills us to watch you being hurt, and hurting yourselves. We really want to help if you need it. Please, please speak up.
OK, end of lecture *steps off of soapbox*
10. What advice can you give to someone who has been raped?
Go to RAINN, best website I know for dealing with sexual assault. Then find someone to tell. Your generation is going to sharply reduce the amount of rape that happens in America, because you are strong and brave enough to speak up.
Kimberly writes: … Did you always want to be a writer?
I have always written for fun. I didn’t get serious about wanting to be a published author until I was 31.
Note to Tatiana (also called Anna): Thanks for your lovely note about Fever 1793. Keep writing your short stories!
Happiness is an empty mailbox. I’m off to clean and shop and await the arrival of the family. I should have Creature With Fangs photos tomorrow.