Four Skype sessions later, I'm still pondering what they said about THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY.
Are any of your characters based on real people or named after real people? How do you figure out what a character would say?
What does "Oh my stars!" mean? Are you from the south, or something?
(This always cracks me up because it never occurs to me that kids don't know some of the totally normal sounding things I say/write...)
And mixed together with all the writing questions I regularly get asked (and never mind answering) was a new one:
"Do you know any other authors and what do you talk about when you get together?"
(Totally not answering this one. My lips are sealed.
Another question made me wonder. This is only the second time it's been asked, and both times I could tell the student had thought hard about it. It wasn't one of those "How much money do you make?" off-the-cuff questions that teachers and librarians caution kids not to ask.
(But they sometimes do.)
This young reader asked why Theo, a boy, was friends with Anabel, a girl, and what made me write about friendship and friends and especially boys and girls being friends.
I have the answer to that. Or at least an answer.
One is because purely from a writing sense, it's nice to work in both girls and boys in a novel, especially those who don't exactly fit the mold. Theo plays the piano AND baseball. His new friend Anabel wants no part of her dance class but is possibly a sports fanatic.
In THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, Theo was adrift. He was someplace he'd never been before. He felt like an outsider. Every single time I talk about my new book and ask students what helps you fit in when you are brand new to a place, they know the answer: Find a friend.
Been there, done that, right? Haven't we all felt like we didn't know the ropes until we had one person to show us the way?
I grew up in the kind of small southern town where everybody knew each other. I had friends whose grandparents were my own grandparents' friends. That's me in the corsage and my best friend since (before!) birth next to me. We were college roommates, bridesmaids for each other, and we're still best of friends. But I've also been that newcomer, so I know how it feels not to fit in.
(In fact, I still know every person in this photo, including the too-cool-for-school boy on the trike)
A friend, yes. That's what a good book can be. But also a way to figure out how to make a friend. How to be a friend.
Frankie and Glory? Anabel and Theo? And in my forthcoming book, there's a girl who befriends a boy, and the two attempt to figure out the world together.
Makes perfect sense to me.
(Here's a link to a blogpost by one of the terrific librarians who invited me into her class via Skype)
And one more photo.
My friend and I still talk a lot about our shoes.