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Monday, August 7, 2017

Pursuing writing with a passion

“I love writing. I've pursued it with a passion.” – Betsy Byars

Byars, who was born on this date in 1928, is the author of more than 60 books for young adults and children, several of which have won the top book awards, including a Newbery Medal for Summer of the Swans, a National Book Award for Children’s Fiction for The Night Swimmers, and an Edgar Award (given annually for best mysteries) for Wanted ... Mud Blossom.

Byars has been called "one of the ten best writers for children in the world" by Nancy Chambers, editor of the British literary journal Signal, and listed as one of the Educational Paperback Association's top 100 authors.   In 1987 Byars received the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement from the Catholic Library Association. 

She studied English at Queens College in her native North Carolina and started writing for magazines while living in Illinois where her husband was working on his graduate degree.  Her work was eventually featured in The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Everywoman's Magazine, and TV Guide.   Her first novel, Clementine, was published in 1962.  While she created many beloved characters, each is usually a stand-alone story.            

“Early in my career, I decided not to do sequels,” she said.  “I know that children enjoy them, but I valued the feeling that this was the only time I would write about these characters. I felt it gave me an added incentive to do my best by them, to tell readers everything I knew; to hold nothing back.”

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