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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Touch the reader with your words

“Write about what you care about. If you do that, you're probably going to do your best writing, reach off the page and touch the reader. How are you going to make the reader care if you don't care yourself?” – Jerry Spinelli

Born in Pennsylvania on this date in 1941, Spinelli is author of nearly 40 novels for young people, including 2017’s The Warden’s Daughter. He is best known for Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal for Best Children’s Book, and Wringer, a Newbery Honor Book. 

An English major at Gettysburg College (“because they didn’t have a writing major”), Spinelli spent his spare time writing short stories and also was editor of the college literary magazine, The Mercury.

After graduation, he became a full-time magazine writer and editor while earning his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.  He intended to write novels for adults but couldn’t get publishers interested in any of  his first 4 works.  His 5th book, also intended for adults, drew the attention of a children’s book publisher (it was about a 13-year-old) and not only was published but became a top seller, starting him on a new writing path.       “Life is full of happy accidents,” he said.     “Sometimes I'm asked if I do research for my stories. The answer is yes and no. No, in the sense that I seldom plow through books at the library to gather material. Yes, in the sense that the first fifteen years of my life turned out to be one big research project.”

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