FRESH FROM THE INKWELL

RANDOM ENCOUNTER AT RANDOM HOUSE

October 13, 2015

Tags: Harry Potter, Random House, manuscript submission, publisher, elevator encounter, authors, the writing life, fame, jealousy

PRAIRIE WRITERS ASSIGNMENT:
YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHO I RAN INTO AT RANDOM HOUSE

I hobbled across the plush carpet to the elevator, and jabbed the UP arrow. The doors whooshed open.

A woman with long blonde hair, fiftyish, stood inside cradling a manuscript, much bulkier than mine. She stepped aside as I entered the lift. I acknowledged my fellow author with a brief smile, before pressing the 6th floor button.

The woman looked alarmingly familiar as she glanced down at my surgical boot.

“Nasty accident?” Her vowels were distinctly Transatlantic.

I chuckled grimly. “You don’t want to know.”

How could I explain that I’d broken my foot on a stack of her hefty hardbacks at a midnight launch party, in a Barnes & Noble store that denied shelf space to my paperback YA mysteries? All my writing life I’d wanted to rub shoulders with such a literary giant, a rags-to-riches success, for the luck to rub off on me. On school visits, kids had asked me whether I knew her, being from the same country.

Now I had the chance, and all I could think of was my throbbing, swollen foot. I seethed with resentment and envy.

We reached our floor, the offices of the Acquisitions Editor. But as I limped out, I thrust a pen and a sticky note under the author’s nose.

“May I have your autograph for my nephew, please, Ms. Rowling? He loves Harry Potter.”

Y: YOU

November 3, 2014

Tags: writing process, reading experience, autobiographical details, Harry Potter, book discussion groups

YOU, THE AUTHOR, bring to your work all the events of your life. To some extent, whether intended or not, these will shape your characters’ emotions and actions. They add colorful details that breathe life on to the page. Harry Potter fans are delighted to learn that the flying car of the second book was modeled on a battered Ford Anglia owned by her friend Sean. During school and library visits, I tell kids about my jealousy of a classmate, Shirley Bateman, and how I gave that feeling to Craig in ARROWHEAD’S LOST HOARD in scenes with his stepbrother. I let them taste baklava and sip hot tea with sugar cubes, the way Jandy did in SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE, based on memories of my year in Iran.

YOU, THE READER, experience a story through the lens of your own experiences. The consequences of a character’s decisions as you live in his or her skin influence your outlook on the world. You have opinions about a protagonist’s behavior that differ from those if another reader. You may re-read the same book years later and see things in a new light, according to the cards life has dealt you. Hence the popularity of book club discussions!