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Manual The Spirit of 76: A Junior Novel of the American Revolution

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But finding the origins of something is often a practice in defining a desired ending. And in the s and s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, the desired ending was a democratic society. So when looking at the American, French, and Polish revolutions, Palmer sought—and found! My students—both undergraduate and graduate—were prone to like this narrative. But I tried to push back on this impulse from the very start. When we dissected the Constitutional Convention debates we focused on the potent fear many of the framers had for populist rule.

They want information and are constantly liable to be misled. Things got even more tricky when we turned to the French. But even with the radical escalation of republican legislation from within the assembly, and the violent push for justice and equality from without, we were able to see the centralization of authority within committees and the foregoing of due process in the quest for revenge. The very nature of the revolution revolved around pledging assent to a small group of charismatic instigators.

But I was especially happy with our engagement with the Haitian Revolution, particularly the writings of Toussaint Louverture. On the one hand, there are few things more democratic than the abolition of slavery. Yet my students and I were struck with how committed Louverture and many of his co-revolutionaries were to monarchical rule. For a variety of reasons that we discussed in class, many believed an authoritative figure was the best way to preserve liberty and stability. Though, of course, the forced plantation system was far from unfettered freedom. Though, again, without slavery. Far from a predetermined trajectory toward what we came to celebrate as democratic rule, it was a much more contested and topsy-turvy battle over centralized control and populist excess.

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My conceptions of the Age of Revolutions is shaped by living in the Age of Trump. One quick concluding note to bring the historiography up to date. Though the book covers from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the true heart of the book is in the period covered by Palmer. He also shows that people other than white men participated in this tradition. Ben: Thanks for this fantastic write-up! Two thoughts:. After I created that dome room for Sybel, my cot really seemed cramped. I still want that crystal room for my own. I can't remember one, but when my wizard began to speak, I knew. The challenge is to take the familiar and make it different.

Casting about for a hero, I found a heroine. Instead of fighting evil, she created it and then had to fight it. In the end she had to face the evil within herself. I had to become Sybel to create her. Just as Sybel had to identify with the animals to hold them. The fun is becoming all of those strange things. I also had to become those animals to create them.

There is an interesting parallel between Sybel and me, and I didn't even realize it until I began thinking about something to say in a speech at the NCTE convention. ERLC 30 Sybel 's calling is like my talent to write. She couldn't control her animals until she could hear their voices. My character behaved the same way. As I listened to Sybel, I realized her vocabulary was very simple, but decided that was ok because after all it was her voice, not mine, that was important in the book. Another thing I've recently discovered about Sybel and me is that she is an out- growth of the restlessness of women in fantasy.

I was impatient with females just being the traditional object of the hero's quest. Fantasy characters react to their world when you allow them the privilege. Sybel is rebelling against that tra- dition of heroines just being married to the hero at the end of the story. Sybel 's.

In the end she has answered the question, "who am I. V So of course the end is only the beginning. The animals still intrigue me. Their voices and characters became so fantastic, but they are all very common animals a cat, lion, falcon, swan, etc, I discovered each of the animals had an aspect of Sybel 1 s character. The boar's attribute, for example, is wisdom. That trait Sybel doesn't acquire until the end. But the cat, that witchy, dark character is shrewd and clever rather than wise, as Sybel when she is planning the war. The lion is worldly knowledge. He started out just as the color gold.

His name came from the color and finally the attribute showed itself. I really enjoyed naming the animals. The falcon's name came from those powerful claws. When he said with such fierce pride that he had torn people to pieces, then I knew his name had to be Tore. The black swan, the symbol of beauty and grace, is one of my favorites, but I also liked the gold and green dragon in his cave even though I didn't let him have much to say.

Since he is the symbol of power, that seemed appropriate. The purpose of Blammor and Leralean remained obscure until the end. Then I realized they represented the fearlessness of self knowledge. When Sybel loses this she is almost destroyed. Actually I didn't realize how tightly the story was struc- tured until after it was published. Then I realized the six brothers 1 characters are also reflected in the animals' attributes, just as Sybel f s.

Then when I began to write, I learned I had to polish and polish a passage to get it right. I guess, I would say read everything you can get your hands on and when you begin to write, buy a big eraser. Oh, I don't think so. Then it would be one man — the director's — view. Fantasy can't be that static. Patricia McKillip aleo has three children's books in print and will soon publish her second fantasy for young adults. Currently she lives in San Francisco. This boy was an athlete His parents had decided to pay tuition and send him to a private school be- cause he needed all the help he could get.

When his father saw those shopping bags, he "hit the roof. M This man, normally a quiet gentle man, started to write a check for the chocolates, but he was too dis- turbed. The son replied that it was the IAST thing he wanted to do. After a discussion the father promised that if the boy returned the chocolates to the school, he would write a letter supporting his son's decision.

They agreed. The father drove the boy to school the next day, and as he walked toward tha door with his shopping bags, the man was suddenly apprehensive. Instead of driving on to his job at the newspaper office he sat and thought.. What did happen was not dramatic at all. The boy turned in the candy, the brothers said, "fine" and the boy went to football practice rather than ringing door bells selling chocolates.

But the boy's father was Robert Cormier and he couldn't stop thinking, "What if He didn't this time. His character just happened to be a young boy. He wouldn't come alive, but another character was taking form in Cormier's imagination and he was a firecracker. This character started out as the prototype of practical joker, a type Robert Cormier had never liked very much.

Then he got the idea for the classroom scene when the furniture all fell apart. Starting from there he went back and filled in. Archie was elevated from the practical joker to another level, and the book was underway. The author told his agent and editor that he was working on this idea, and he completed one third of it, but then he began to have doubts.

Who was going to want to read a book about a kid who played football and wouldn't sell candy for the school? His agent had liked the idea and asked him to revive it, thinking this time in terms of a young adult audience. Cormier wasn't comfortable with nar- rowing his audience and agreed to start again, but writing it just as he would any novel. The entire Cormier family became involved, especially a sixteen year old daughter and the eighteen year old son who hadn't sold the chocolates. They gave ad- vise about language. They voted to publish it as it was making no changes that would destroy the integrity.

Random House published it in The teenage girls serving coffee in the shop across from the news- paper office tried to help. If I could wait until two o'clock there was a busboy 32 who had read the book The couple who ran the general store next door to the newspaper office knew Mr. She wrote down the title. When I went on up to Robert Cormier's office, he seemed surprised that I had come all the way from New York to talk to him, and he was glad there was going to be a Teacher's Guide.

The local library had bought a dozen copies, and the book had sold copies in hardback at the local bookstore, making it a best seller in Fitch- burg, but he thought most of them were purchased by family, friends and friends of his four children. There were 36, people in Leominster and 38, in the' adjoining town, Fitchburg. He had heard a rumor that it might be taught next fall in a Fitchburg high school class. The material dictated that. I thought Archie and Jerry would have to have a confrontation and Jerry would have to lose. As it began to take shape, there were just too many characters to be seen from one point of view.

Archie became more than the practical joker, so then Emile Janza crept into the plot, and I became in- trigued with Obie I tried something I hadn't done before. I saw it as a screenplay with scenes shifting rapidly. That seemed to call for shifting viewpoint I even changed in the middle of paragraphs.

I wanted a forward thrus t. For example, I should have liked to do more for Obie. Poor guy, he wanted to be an athlete, wanted to have something to be proud of at home, but instead all he had was the gang. As I said, I had trouble bringing Jerry to life. One of the earlier editors who saw the book wanted me to change the plot and have him win, but I knew that couldn't happen.

He wasn't a winner. In the first version, he didn't even get in a good punch. Then I changed it and let him have one real crack at Emile, but of course that backfired on him too because then he had to realize he had sunk to Emile f s level. Fabio Coen, my editor at Random House made some suggestions that added strength and shored it up a bit. For example, I had over dramatized Brother Leon's appearance at the fight.

I showed him draped in a cloak. Caesar fashion, I'm afraid. We toned that down some. An author must fall in love with his characters, I think. I finished it; it was ready to go, and then I redid the whole thing. My wife declared that revision hap- pened because I could not bear to say goodbye to that old man. I did really love him. He was in the Poor House, but had worked all his life here in the Leominster comb shops I did too, when I was young.

He was a wonderful character. I would still like to do more for Obie, but I haven't really thought about that. My 18 : old daughter is emotionally involved with that one. As can see, we are a reading family. I am certainly a living example that they can make it if they work at it. I was trying to describe a great big old ornate orian house. I wrote 'a great big white birthday cake of a house.

For example I wanted to show the sterility of Jerry and his father's tionship. When they were preparing their supper, I said 'the casserole slid into oven like a mailbox, 1 I think that suggests it all. Twenty years ago, Ann Barrett—a Houghton Mifflin editor— liked one of my books, invited me down to Boston and took me to lunch at the Parker House. What a thrill a young writer.

She couldn't convince her house to buy my book, but she did put n touch with the Curtis Brown Agency who did, so I always remember her. Oh, I shall stay here where I was born and have always lived. The lame is to protect my family's privacy especially my daughter Renee 's. She is joy Then he walked to the window, looked down on the street below and said, "There i thousand novels right here on Main Street. The reader cannot help but want to if she is the model or the observer of the new life style of women. For instance, iX. The 'idea 1 perhaps originated from this situation, but I hardly knew the daughter in real life and had to imagine or compose her out of other people I know.

I am writing both about myself as a child and my own two daughters who are now five and eight.

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I think one of the interesting things about having children—and having them definitely was one of the factors that encouraged me to go into writing for them — is seeing bits and pieces of your own childhood come at you from the other direction. It often" seems to me that I can tell when a particular writer for young people has children. When he or she does, the parent figures tend to be more sympathetic. Per- haps being a parent wakes one more aware of the inherent difficulties in the role.

I'm disturbed by the fact that in so many books the parents are the villain characters, responsible for everything that goes wrong in the child or adolescent's world — or they are vague sweet shadowy figures, no more real than the 'villains. I've thought of writing sequels to some of my books, partly because as a child I enjoyed series books such as the Betsy Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace and the Melendy Family by Elizabeth Enright. Several people risked after the book was published if I'd intended them to have a lesbian relationship.

Frankly, I don't think I had resolved the issue in my mind and since the children in the book were 12 and 5 it seemed to me possibly they wouldn't be av 2 of the issue themselves. The sequel I've thought of would take place several year:.

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At that pcint 1 think she and her mother could discuss this more frankly. I see the mother as someone who, though a lesbian at a certain point in her life, is somewhat tentative about it, especially in relationship to her children. The mother's feelings about revealing it would be a part of the story, not just the daughter's reaction. I do carry situations around in my head, often for several years. It's not al- ways clear to me why a particular group of characters form themselves in one's mind in a particular way, but once they do, it's hard to get rid of them except through writing the.

Then they leave you alone. But my starting point is usually a situation rather than a charac- ter. I like the idea of caking a conventional situation and standing it on its head, as it were.

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They both have this kind of irony as writers and that appeals to me. For in- stance, in WOLFMAN you could say I started with the situation of an unwed mother and her daughter, but really I started with the idea of an unwed mother and her daughter who, instead of feeling oppressed and cast down by her role in society, would con- sider herself privileged.

So it was the reversal of the usual that appealed to me. I've just written a teenage novel in which the girl, who isn't a virgin, has to try to seduce the boy who is. I guess the humor in these reversals is what appeals to me. At that time I'd been 35 o ERLC writing short stories for 10 years and the idea of tackling something as? Also, I'd been studying Russian literature and my idea of a novel was a giant page thing.

So I decided I would force myself to type 10 pages a day— I always compose on my typewriter--, 5 days a week until I reached page Then I retype it and show it to an editor. With others I've had to do revisions of varying magnitude, I'm always willing and interested to revise a novel upon the suggestion of an editor. I don't have any feel- ing about anything being sacred as it stands. For me, the advantage of the 10 page a day method is that it enables me to over- come the self doubts which in my case start creeping in almost as soon as I start the first page.

All those inner questions, about is this any good?

So by forcing myself to just go on and at least have a finished manuscript to present to someone, I overcome these doubts. Naturally, I would love to be a person without such doubts, but that doesn't seem very likely. It enables you to be- come involved with the characters and their lives rather than to stand back and say, 'What a wonderful sentence.

Since I enjoy writing dialogue, I tend to use it pretty often. The issue of third and first person also interests me. In my short story writing years I wrote exclusively in the third person, and basically it still appeals to me because it has a certain detach- ment. But in doing it I felt I gained a certain freedom.

There is a confidential, natural ease to the first person which is appealing, rather like talking to a friend. Since then most of my novels have been in the first person, but I still feel my real love is the third. The political or cultural event which has influenced me most as a person and as a writer has been the women's movement. Possibly it's made me overly sensitive to certain things when I read.

Especially with writing for children, I can't put aside the unspoken implications of many books with their slighting attitudes to women or girls. Even if the book is well written, these attitudes disturb me. I think the whole issue of women's lib in relation to writing is a complex one. It isn't simply a matter of writing a book about a little girl who wants to get on the boy's baseball team. Such books often have assumptions which are, to me, ragingly sexist and far transcend the apparent theme.

I think it's a matter of looking afresh at attitudes to all female characters in a book, not only to the girls who are the center, but the mothers, the sisters, the aunts. Sometimes you'll read a book where the mother works and you'll think great. But often by the end of the book it will have been made to seem as though the mother's working is some kind of evil which has destroyed the lives of her children.

But I'm not only concerned with the female characters we are pre- senting to our young people in their books. I'm concerned with fathers too. I'd like to see more books in which fathers take an active role in the lives of their children, not just in playing sports with them, but in a more intimate basic way. Today I feel many more fathers are doing this so it's really a matter—as it is with other issues too--of books catching up to life.

We are still far behind reality in what we decide to present to children, and this is a pity. I see lists of recommended books for children and adolescents and often these books are almost exclusively fantasy, fairy tales, folk tales. I think I understand The real world frightens many people today.

We are living, perhaps even more than in earlier times, in an era of changing values and many people are afraid to deal with these changes in books. They feel children need and expect fixed values, certainty. I think children are not fooled by false certainty and I think they aren't going to go back to fairy tales either.

They need books which confront some of these new things, even if the outcome isn't always the most reassuring. Not that escapist books of any kind don't have a place for children just as they do for adults, but I'd like to see. I chose to become a writer because writing gave me pleasure of a very special kind. Painting was the only other activity which came close, and until I was in my late teens I wasn't sure which field I would go into, I was never sure I could make an actual profession out of it, and started getting a doctorate in Russian so I could teach and, perhaps write on the side.

In a rather uhliberated way I decided I could rely on being supported by my husband and I should take a chance at doing what I most wanted to do. I found it hard doing two things at once—going to graduate school and writing. Pos- sibly they drew too much on the same energies. For me writing is probably most akin to acting. That is, when I write I feel I am becoming another person and I have the--to me--exciting sensation of transcending my own identity.

When you write, you can be a different age, a different sex. There are virtually no limits to what you can attempt. In 'real life 1 I was and still am to some extent a fairly shy, repressed person. Through my characters I express things that I wouldn't have the courage to outside of my books. Often I reread my books and am filled with admiration for these outspoken, iconoclastic women, I'm so much more aware in myself of my cringing, insecure side, though at the same time I feel these outspoken characters do stand for a part of me which exists, but doesn't al- ways come to the surface.

I had grown up on what I now see as a very shel- tered environment — liberal politically, open to new ideas, etc. I thought the whole world was like this, or at least even if intellectually I realized it wasn't, I had never met people who thought very differently from me. Now, of course, due to the angry and hostile letters my editors or I have received about some of the things I've tried to put into my children's books, I'm aware how different things are in most of the country. There is a very strong repressive tide, I can't tell how much stronger or less strong it is now than it was a few years ago, but there is no doubt it exists, that it does have an influence on sales of books and so on, I still feel, though, that I have to write the kind of books that interest me, and thus far I've felt that there have been enough people, even if they aren't a majority, who believe in the kind of thing I'm trying to do, who say, in effect, keep it up so that I feel just- ified in continuing.

But it is definitely a problem. It's easy to be forthright on behalf of ideas in general, but when it comes to your own books, you feel much more vulnerable. You always wonder if perhaps the book just isn't good, not that it represents ideas which some people find threatening. I feel that in fifty years many of the taboos about sexuality which I think do exist now will have vanished. The last to go are the ones involving books for younger children. I think that at this moment teenage books are just beginning to break through some of these taboos.

Often my books are called 'books for young adults' but really they are for younger children, more like 8 to 12 year olds. They are foisted on teenagers because if the book has a controversial theme, people will ac- cept it more easily for a teenage audience than for a younger one. An editor, I once heard speak, suggested that libraries should not be separated according to books 37 9 ERLC for children, books for teenagers, books for adults.

She felt all books should be mixed together on the same shelves. Possibly this would create some confusion, but I felt her basic idea was sound. When I write a book in which the main character is 11, I don't want that book to be one which only an 11 year old can enjoy.

To me it's a book seen through an eleven year old's eyes, but I'd like it to have the complexity and subtly of an adult book. In short, I see my children's books as being about children, not just for children. I know many writers for children say, in effect — I won't write about this because a child won't be interested in it. One example I've been given is: I won't write about adults because children don't want to read about them. I don! I see most experiences as being ones in which we, adults, children, men and women are all involved and it's this broader interaction which is my concern.

There is the eccentric f antasy. Interviewing Richard Peck, I could avoid all those pitfalls. We were born on opposite sides of the same Central Illinois cornfield; I learned to swim in Dreamland Lake; and we both taught English at one time. We naturally started talking about books and kids. I am still surprised to find books I wrote for pleasure reading now a part of the curriculum. What it says is we are reaching out for a curriculum. When it began it bothered me. I thought kids might be trapped in the present forever, but they read everything, and that is as it should be.

I believe every student should pass an exam in Latin grammar, but that isn't traditional. It never was that way. I also believe kids should pass a reading com- prehension exam before they are advanced, but that has never been either. As a teacher I wasn't traditional at all even though my students almost demanded that I be. I wanted them to experiment with writing styles. They wanted to do book reports. Even when they wrote poetry it was post e.

No, I'm more idealistic than traditional. A boy is looking for an adult figure on whom to model himself. Although he and the father have a good relationship, the ashen faced father is not enjoying his life which is mostly work and admits it to' his son. The son is then released to try on many masks.

He finds Uncle Miles, an iconoclast, who is th? But I enjoyed dealiu; s with the serious theme in a humorous and a supernatural way. No, an architect, but I couldn't do math. After a long time I learned I could build stories where no math was necessary. And I am thankful I never had a teacher who encouraged 1 self -expression. My advice to kids interested in this craft would be to read, ob- serve, go to the library. Before you can write, you must un-center yourself. Today I don't keep notebooks of random observations because you would have to contort the structure of a novel to include them.

Virtually all the incidents in a novel have to be created to fit action and characterization. The biggest bore in a novelist's life is the one who steps up at a party and says, 'I could write a novel about my life. Now I do, but I didn't at first. Be he male or be she female, I'm partial to the self-reliant, semi-loner, standing at the edge of the action—observing it with a keen ironic eye. Oh, yes Usually Theme..

After that, I had to decide whether to deal with boys or girls and after that, how to work up a plot full of action to prove the theme. First-person diminishes the distance between writer and reader. I want my voice to sound as if the story is a confidence shared between this reader and a best friend. Books are good companions in a lonely world.

By reading between the lines of letters they write and by asking, when I meet them, what their favorite TV shows are. Because like it or not, TV is the only ex- perience the entire youthful generation has in common. To watch what they watch and try to see it through their eyes is one way of trying to bridge the generation gap.

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We have already defused two formerly taboo words--race and sex, but we haven't begun to explore an even more important sub ject--class. I mean social class. The social structure of a school, whether it be warring street gangs or fraternities and sororities, makes all young people class-conscious and some of them feel like rejects.

More novels that ask adolescents to evaluate the class structure they set up for themselves would be very welcome. It may turn out to be more a book about the young than for the young, but I think it is important because it recognizes that adults—responsible parents and teachers—play a far smaller role in their children's lives than they think.

That was frustrating like having a baby and not being able to give it a name. That title finally came from actual conversation in the book. That is a fictional story taking place in an actual setting. In Decatur, Illinois, my hometown there is a defunct amusement park with a Dreamland Lake in the center. The cover of the novel is from a real photo- graph. After the characters are established, I can't make them stop talking, and often they talk about things unrelated to the novel.

For example, Alexander and Blossom Culp are still talking. I can forsee future adventures for them. The group of girls were sitting in an old Chrysler at a drive-in. They were talking so loud and so fast, I couldn't make the typewriter go fast enough to capture it all. Unfortunately, most of the writing doesn't work that way. Prepare for another kind of work--a career that requires deadlines, vocabulary and communicating with strangers.

That could be a career in journalism, advertising, teaching. Work hard at that career and leave your writing until later when you have found out that no one is unique, not even a writer. The success of a book about gangs, violence and "teenage have-nots ,T gave courage or motivation to a herd of writers to take on a host of previously taboo subjects. Few of them drew the real outsiders in, as Hinton did. Suzy Hinton is getting on and so is her canon.

Talking to her about her characters is like talking to her about her family. Maybe that is one of the keys to her success. Many of my characters are loosely based on people I've known. For example the real boy like Dallas Winston was shot and killed by the police for having stolen a car. I knew a girl like Cherry Vance, but my friend, didn't have guts. But in all my characters there is always some aspect of myself.

Ponyboy is the way I felt at I read a lot and was very introspective. I'm not sure he is my favorite charac- ter, but he sure is the kid's pick. I've been thinking about having him be a high school teaaher in one of my next ones. That is what I think he would like to be.

I was so subtle my readers missed the point that he was only out for himself. That was the only time I really was at sea with my narrator. He just grew as the plot unfolded. Bryon wasn't bad, and it wasn't that squealing was so bad. But he knew Mark would never have a chance to change if he turned him in, and he did it anyway. That was bad. He knew it. That was why he was so apathetic in the end; he knew what he had done. He couldn't act because he had taken away Mark's ability to do so.

Motorcycle Boy is my most ambitious character so far. I saw his picture in LIFE magazine just as it says in the book. He was leaning up against an ole beat up bike and the photograph looked like a mood painting. First I wrote a short story called 'Rumble Fish' and the novel was based on it. You're right. Rusty James could never really be like Motorcycle Boy, but he had identified with him so strongly that when he was hit on the head, he momentarily could see from Motorcycle Boy's viewpoint.


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Even though heroes are out of fashion, I liked the idea of creating one. Oh, I always wanted to be a writer and I couldn't stop now even if I made a 'bundle. My horse was always running away with me and my trainer was yelling at me. It wasn't the friends. That just sorted them out. But the pressure came from every direction. Everybody asked me what I was going to do next and watched me anxiously. Consequently, I couldn't do anything. Everyone had such high expectations. I think so. I'm the oldest.

My sister three years younger seemed much more ready to face being a teenager than I was. She wanted dates and that whole teenage scene. I had such a time getting over being a tomboy, and I had a thing about being a cowboy. I was more interested in frogs and horses than boys. Yes, I think so. You always think the next stage is so neat and mysterious. When you get over being twelve and you're a teenager, it's just the same ole people. I could tell my sister that. I write from the male viewpoint because that's where I'm most comfortable.

When I was little, my close friends were always boys, and besides that I had illusions of grandeur about the things I wanted to do and accomplish. Girls in my day didn't have a chance for much of anything. My male cousin lived down the street and I was shocked at eight to learn he was not my brother.

So I always dreamed of having that relationship. My husband David has brown hair, and he doesn't like for me to say that. No, not at all. He doesn't even read. In fact, I received the contract for that one on our wedding day. He has given me some technical advice on pool hustling, but I haven't made him a character yet. Maybe that is because I haven't written a comedy yet. I tried to write an answer to all of those books that link sex with punishment. They listened to each other, exchanged ideas, corrected each other and laughed a lot.

No wonder this author is a favorite with young reader. I asked her how she began writing: My kids were about three and five, and I was constantly reading picture books to them. After reading at least five hundred I began to think, 'I can do this too. But I guess it really goes much further back. As a child I was the great pretender, always had an imaginary game filled with fantasy characters floating around in my head.

As a young mother I began to realize I was a creative person with no outlet. I wrote imitation Dr. Seuss books while I washed the dishes Also I've always read a great deal. I began going to the library to read chil- dren's books, dividing them into categories — those I would like to have written and those I would not have enjoyed or couldn't have done.

A course can't teach you to write, but the professional encouragement helped. Mainly, I was forced to write every week. I wrote it following the old formula—avoiding all the traditional taboos and concocting a happy ending. I rewrote it before I gave it to Bradbury Press and twice after that with my editor's help, but I still don't understand why they took it. My editor tells me he saw the next book. I bless him for that. For me it's always a character.

When I'm working on a book and someone asks me what it is about, I always say it is about Margaret, Katherine or Sally. But my books are always about family, school and friends because I write about kids and that is how real kids spend their lives The one I'm writing about at the moment. Now it is Sally, the protagonist for a book I'm doing about the forties. But I guess Margaret will always be a very special favorite because she is me, I had talked to God that way when I was a child. A lot of it is fiction, of course, but that is the way I really felt in the sixth grade.

Margaret also brought me fans. I'll always be grateful to her for that. Margaret was all me, and there is a bit of me in my new character, Sally. You know she isn't mean or cruel.


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When I was an adolescent, I hurt and was hurt as all adolescents are. I think we still haven't shown how rough it is to be a kid. Also the young have so little control over their own lives, even their own bodies. That's frustrating and painful. My son Larry doesn't want me to tell him when to take a shower or shampoo his hair or do his homework, and I can under- s tand tha t.

Even though I write books for kids, knowing them doesn't help to live with ado- lescents on an emotional level. My kids and I are open with each other and thati helps, but it doesn't solve everything. We still have hassles. I have to look back; I can't write from the middle of it. Larry wants me to write a book about a seventh grade boy, but I'll have to do that later, after he is older. A very positive one! He is such a sensitive, caring person, and he doesn't try to tell me what to do, how to write or rewrite. But we talk and he asks many ques- tions.

Then I rewrite. My editor believes I know much more about my characters than I show him in the first draft, and he is always right. The first draft of a book is pure agony for me. Rewriting is the pleasure. After I have already done five or six drafts, I work with my editor twice, doing revisions each time. The only thing I can do spontaneously is dialogue. That comes out right the first time for some reason. Because writing is so lonely I like to talk to other writers, but I'm beginning to think too much of it is destructive.

I become too competitive. I don't think so. There are writers I admire, of course, but when I'm working, I stay away from reading any fiction. I will read only non-fiction because I don't want to be influenced by anyone else's style. I hope not, and I don't think so. There is a risk in such a commitment. An author tends to lose sight of her people. Characters become puppets. I identify with the feminist movement, but critics often say the feminists won't like my books. I don't write to please any one group and I don't like it when people say I write problem books.

I write people books and that's what I want to do. Occasionally I'll read a revision of a book of mine and be amazed. I laugh and think, so that's what I was writing about; I thought it was about Margaret or Katherine or Deemie The children's letters save me, and they also tell me what I want to know, but occasionally I think the reviewers stand between me and the children.

That frustrates me.

the spirit of 76 a junior novel of the american revolution Manual

Teacher's and librarians are not going to make my books available to the kids if the critics are negative. What confuses me is most reviewers, even the negative ones, end up saying, f But the children are going to love it. What do they mean? Are they condescending to the children? To me? Are they saying the books are rotten, but kids have no taste so it doesn't matter?

I happen to think kids do have taste, and I write for them. I do what I can do. The children say they identify with the characters and feel empathy with the feelings the characters in my books express. So many letters say, 'It's like reading about me I think writers learn by reading a lot. I also think a writer should experiment and not be afraid. The book I'm writing now is about Sally, a fifth grader, but it really happened to me in the third and fourth grade.

I call it my historical novel; it takes place in I'm doing it from the third person viewpoint because I've done so many in first person. Writ- ing can get into a rut. I'm doing this to stay fresh even though I'm more comfortable in the first person. Kids who write want to get published. They shouldn't be in too much of a hurry. I have a closet full of unpublished manuscripts. Each one was a learning experience for me. Kids should write to please themselves and not just with the idea of possible publication. There aren't any rules.

My daughter has a unique style; her stories have such macabre endings. I never tell her to change that. It's Randy's style. Censorship, in my experience, has mainly been a problem of sex and language. If a child comes to a parent with a question growing out of one of my books, I see this as a perfect opening for a discussion. If instead that parent says, 'My God, what are you reading? By his or her action she or he is making a statement to the child.

Two librarians have told me how they handle parents' objections to sexuality in books for young people. They sit down with the parent and say, ' Now, show me exactly what it is that bo thers you and we'll read it together and talk about it. This is asking a great deal of the teacher or librarian— and should they assume the role of psychological counselor in the first place? Not every teacher or librarian can handle that— or should be ex- pected to try— but it is an example of how some professionals have dealt successfully with a difficult situation.

First, find the source of the problem, for once the issue is out in the open it becomes easier for everyone involved. Some parents still won't be able to cope with it—the next step may be a scientific book, but then, at least, the parent is saying to the child, 'Let's find out together. She wanted to read a love story that could really happen; one in which neither young lover dies at the end.

I also wanted to show 44 that boys are equally vulnerable. I have mixed feelings about that. If it will reach a wider audience because of adult publication, then fine — as long as it reaches its intended audience — young people. It's too bad that books have to fit neatly into categories but that seems to be a fact of publishing life at the moment. They are announced, reviewed, shelved, and marketed that way.

It is too soon to know if FOREVER will be accepted for young people, because of its sexual detail, but its very publi- cation shows how even the threat of censorship shapes literature. Some critics have said that Katherine's immediate sexual pleasure isn't credible. My one regret about the book is that in the final rewrite a sequence showing that Katherine had a long history of masturbating, was removed.

In the deleted version there isn't any evidence that she was already atuned to her body. The reasoning be-, hind this was since it was to be an 'adult 1 novel it wasn't necessary to tell or show the reader everything about Katherine. My mistake was not expressing my views more strongly to my editor. There is real danger in paying too close attention to book reviews. As a writer I must never try to please the critics, but to please myself, and hope that in doing so I can share my feelings and observations about life with my young readers, causing them to think.

The 12 most popular writers, in order of their popularity, were 1 Kurt Vonnegut, 2 Hermann Hesse, 3 J. There are only six to eight years in which a child can read, as a child , and there are so many wonderful books to be read he will never have time to read them all. To waste these few precious years reading the less than worthwhile is really a crime. Admittedly the missed books could be read when one is an adult.

While you're reading that, you may get. For example, the increased sophistication of the subject matter dealt with in the genre has expanded the age parameters of the genre's intended audience. Traditionally, the adolescent novel was written to the reading abilities and interests of younger adolescents, those in grades However, many recent adolescent novels are extremely popular with high school students and adults.

The appeal of the adolescent novel to older adolescents is obviously grounded in the genre's characteristic "high interest-low readability" format. The expanded age parameters of the adolescent novel have resulted in some complications and advantages concerning the use of the genre in the classroom. A significant complication concerns the selection of recent adolescent novels for use with younger adolescents.

However, it is the advantages of the expanded age parameters which are of interest here. In fact, many recent adolescent novels are naturals for use in thematic units because they provide the opportunity for the "slow readers" in a class to explore, through materials they can read successfully, the central concepts dealt with in a thematic unit.

After all, one of the advantages of the thematic unit is that it allows for the use of a wide variety of reading materials at various readability levels so that students with varying abilities can be working simultaneously with the problem or concept being explored by the class. The following bibliography has been designed as an aid to the classroom teacher interested in incorporating "high interest-low readability" materials in specific thematic units. This bibliography is by no means definitive; the number of suitable adolescent novels is staggering.

Furthermore, the placement of a particular novel under a particular thematic heading reflects my personal judgment, and the novel might have been placed under a different thematic heading or under several headings. My point should be clear — this bibliography is just a start. Alienation Garden, Nancy. A high school senior's resolution to rebel against the traditional goals of his family is shattered by his grandfather's death and the disasterous results of his girlfriend's acid trip.

Could also be used in a unit on Death. Hinton, S. Death, drug abuse, racial conflict and a sudden realization of the harshness of life turn the seventeen-year-old protagonist of this novel into an existential hero who is searching for meaning in his life. Kerr, M. Dinky 's life is complicated by her socially concerned parents who have little or no time for her, an overweight and extremely right-wing boyfriend, and a cousin with a history of mental illness. Dinky seeks escape in gluttony. A teenaged girl trying to cope with her divorced mother's double-standard morality seeks escape in communal living and meditation until a friend of hers is destroyed by the hypocrisy of the commune.

Could be used in a Family Relations Unit. Piatt, Kim. A young boy escapes parental abuse and neglect by becoming autistic, but learns to face reality because of strangers who have come to love him. Stolz, Mary. Jimmie Cavin attempts to put her world back together after her parents 1 unexpected divorce. Could also be used in a Family Relations Unit. Wood, Phyllis Anderson. Jim and Rachel tuned out the world until they found each other and became involved in each other's problems and the problems of those less fortunate.

They rediscover life. Could be used in a Values Unit. Wood, George A. McKay, Robert. Jesse, a teenaged rock singer and student activist, is kicked out of his California high school, so his parents take him and retreat to a small middle-America community. But Jesse finds more discontented teenagers.