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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

'No one is stopping you'

“Every published writer suffers through that first draft because most of the time, that's a disappointment.” – Rebecca Stead

Born in New York City on this date in 1968, Stead started her career as a lawyer but turned to writing – something she loved but thought impractical as a way to make a living – in 2007 after the birth of her two children.  After moderate success with her debut novel, First Light, she won the prestigious Newbery Medal for her second novel When You Reach Me, a “suspense-mystery-supernatural” hybrid whose 6th grade protagonist Miranda is a fan of sci-fi/fantasy writer Madeleine L’Engle. 

Stead may have hearkened back to her own youth as an avid reader in crafting her character.  “I read a whole lot as a child, and, of course, I still read children's books,” Stead said.  “I never had a favorite book! I liked all kinds of things . . . and I also liked reading about kids like myself.”  When You Reach Me is currently ranked 11th on the School Library Journal’s list of “100 Best Children’s Novels.” 
                               Not one to rest on her laurels, Stead wrote another award-winner, Liar & Spy, which earned Britain’s Guardian Prize as the best children's book by a writer who had not previously won it.   Stead became the first writer from the U.S. – or from anywhere outside the British Commonwealth – to win the award.

“The wonderful thing about writing fiction is that no one is stopping you,” Stead remarked.   “There's no one saying, 'You can't do that.' “

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