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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Taking a Chance on Everything

“I've done everything. All of it. You think it, I've done it. All the things you never dared, all the things you dream about, all the things you were curious about and then forgot because you knew you never would. I did 'em, I did 'em yesterday while you were still in bed. What about you? When's it gonna be your turn?”—Melvin Burgess

Born in England on this date in 1954, Burgess started writing in his mid-30s and had almost instant success as a Children’s and Young Adult fiction writer when his first book, The Cry of the Wolf, was “highly commended by librarians for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.  Then in the mid-1990s his ”lucky 7th” book Junk, about heroin-addicted teenagers on the streets of Bristol, not only won the Carnegie but also the Guardian Book Award and soared to the top of most YA bestseller lists worldwide.  
           Now the author of 25 books and a television screenplay, Burgess said that when he was a child he choice of careers was to be “an animal collector,” influenced by zoologist Gerald Durrell, who also was an award-winning writer and founder of the Jersey Zoo.   “He had a job collecting animals for zoos, and for a long time that is what I wanted to do.”

But after being influenced by an enthusiastic English teacher, he started studying authors and turned his focus toward a writing career.    “I read all the time so it's difficult to say who my all-time favorites (authors) are,” he said.  “One is George Orwell, because he makes political writing so simple a child could understand it.“

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