Friday, July 23, 2010

Books for Young Readers Conference-Part IV

How many parts are there, you ask? Six. Hang in there. I appreciate your visits, but let's see some comments too!

I didn't get a photo with this author because she was our speaker at dinner and got whisked away for book signings afterwards. Laurie Halse Anderson is a YA author known for tackling some tough issues in her books. She seemed like the type of person who is so happy with her life now, and especially blessed to have risen above the trauma's of her childhood.

As a young girl, she loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and was very happy when she learned when she was 30 that she was a distant relative of Elmonzo.

Her father had problems with alcholism which affected the entire family. She decided to share some of those stories with teenagers though the issues in her books. "They think they're alone when they are caught in dark places." Books helped her to escape. She said that she read the cover off of I never promised you a rose garden. In her teenage years, she left the country for 13 months and worked on a pig farm in Denmark. Though it sounds crazy, she felt that the family she stayed with there, who was sober with a strong marraige, helped "soothe my aching places."

She came back to the U.S. and graduated from community college and still is an advocate for that setting of higher education. She continued to love to read but "hated the way books were analyzed to death. I just wanted a good story!" When Laurie hears about teachers doing packets with her books, she cringes. She believes that teachers and kids "should unite over a love of story."

As she began her writing career, "every single story I wrote got rejected for 3 years." She wanted a "good idea-well told." She credits her english teachers for her being published. "What they said about revision turns out not to be a lie."

Laurie does have some series in her body of work. She has an animal series that are a "mix of ER and babysitting club." She feels that "Speak is about 10% of my experience in high school." "Catalyst is about the pressure we put on gifted children" and "Prom was written when I was engaged and is so happy."

Her genre is considered historical fiction but hates that term. "Too many kids have been scarred by the term historical fiction. NOOO, Not Johnny Tremain. Let Brother Sam is Dead Die!" She calls her latest books about colonial times, "historical thrillers."

I found her pictures of her writing space the most interesting. Her husband built her a writing cottage on their property with a gorgeous window and a wood stove. He didn't put in a phone, internet or a bathroom so she'd have to come home sometimes.

During Q and A, she gave advice to hopeful writers...(hey, that's me!) "If you have that creative urge, don't wait for the perfect moment." She also shared that "Speak was rejected by my first publisher I sent it to. I've laminated it and if I'm having a bad day, I take it out and laugh."


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