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Monday, February 1, 2016

The 'most important' thing

“I would say if you want to write, write what you care about. I think that's the most important thing. I think if you write what you care about, you stand a better chance of having the reader care about your story.” – Jerry Spinelli

An American writer of children's novels that feature adolescence and early adulthood, Spinelli is best known for his books Maniac Magee and Wringer, both Newbery Award winners.  And while they are definitively “Young Adult” books, he said “I don't really write for adults or kids - I don't write for kids, I write about them. I think you need to do that; otherwise, you end up preaching down. You need to listen not so much to the audience but to the story itself.”

Born on this date in 1941, Spinelli grew up in Pennsylvania and studied at Gettysburg, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, and then did graduate work at Johns Hopkins, gravitating toward history.  But he was always thinking about a writing career and following in the footsteps of his journalist father.  Although, as he noted, “Nobody told me how hard it was going to be to get published. I wrote four novels (for adults) that nobody wanted, sent them out all over, and collected hundreds and hundreds of rejection slips.”  His fifth book was also supposed to be for adults, but instead was accepted as a Young Adult title and he was on his way.   Since then, he’s written more than 30 YA books, 
  one of the most popular writers in the genre’. 
“My ideas come from ordinary, everyday life,” he said.  “And from imagination. And from feelings. And from memories. Memories of dust in my sneakers and humming whitewalls down a hill called Monkey.” 

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