2006 Mail Call #1

Katie from J-D Middle School writes: I am in seventh grade. For Language Arts, we are doing a favorite author report. I chose to do you as my author because I have read all of your books and think that they send very important messages. I wanted to find out how you thought up the story line and such. To find all the information I need, I would really like it if you took time out of your busy schedule to answer these few questions.

1. What are some people or events that have influenced you to write your books?
2. Did the people or events who influenced you affect the storyline/plot of your books?
3. What was your childhood like?
4. How did you think of what life was like for Melinda in Speak? And what she went through and felt like?

Ah… author reports. It still feels weird that students do them about me. Not sure if I will ever get used to it.
1. My father was a huge influence on me. (Still is.) He writes poetry and taught me from a very early age that books are important.
2. I think the teens that I meet are the ones who drive my choice of plot. I don’t ever take the story of one particular kid, but I take the concerns I hear from many of them and try to address them in my books.
3. My childhood was a blast. We lived in a great neighborhood just off Syracuse University’s campus. We walked to school. We played for hours outside (this was before cable TV was invented). It felt like the world was a good and safe place. And then I became a teenager and everything fell apart.
4. I was sexually assaulted and I know what it feels like. I have also dealt with depression on and off for thirty years (as have several family members), so I am familiar with that, too.

I hope the report turns out OK.

Elise writes: I think your book FEVER 1793 is very good. I haven’t finished it yet but I am building up suspense. It has a great plot and very interesting characters. I can’t wait to read any of your other books when I am done with this one. I don’t really know what book I will read next. I may read SPEAK next. All in all, I think I realy love FEAVER 1793.

Thank you, Elise!
I did get your note, Jessica, but it got eaten in my email system and I cannot find it for the life of me. And thank you, teacher John, for the very kind note.

We had a small 75th birthday party for my mom yesterday and I finally cooked macaroni and cheese that she said met her standards. My cousin and her husband were able to join us and we had a sweet evening. I am so grateful that we were able to move my folks up here and be a part of their lives in the last chapter. I take Mom to her oncologist’s office today to make sure that the evil cancer beast that lurks in her bones is still under control.

Still hammering away at final revisions for my WIP. I think I may be within hours of sending it off to my editor…. I keep reading it out loud and fussing with little changes. Revision is hard.