Monday, February 13, 2012

An Evening with Gary D. Schmidt (and a giveaway)

Several weeks ago, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt was my featured book on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. In fact, it's so recent you can scroll down five or six posts and wah-lah! there it is. When I wrote that post, I had no idea I would be hearing him speak just days after sharing my love for his writing . . . BUT I DID! And what an evening it was.

Last Wednesday, the evening before rehearsals began on the stage adaptation of Gary's Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Gary chatted with the artistic director of Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company, and I was in the audience.

As he shared and inspired, he told the story behind the story for each of these books.


Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy arose from a family vacation in Maine where he uncovered the tragedy of Malaga Island. In The Wednesday Wars Holling Hoodhood is Gary as a kid. And in Flint, Michigan, there's a library--operating with hardly any budget and marvelous librarians--which houses an early version of Audubon's Birds of America but they refuse to sell it; this set the stage for Okay for Now.

Fascinating stuff. I love the story behind the story because it makes the story that much MORE than it already is.

Gary also discussed the way he creates his stories. He writes in what amounts to a shed (heated only by a wood stove) on a typewriter. Yes, on a typewriter. It slows down the process for him, he said, and makes him understand just how imperfect his drafts are. When he finishes a draft, he burns it in the wood stove and begins again. Wow.

Responding to a question about how setting is almost a character in his stories, Gary told how the nuances of place do become integral fabric and character in writing. Where we are becomes part of who we are.

Someone asked about the "standing up moments" in his books, those crisis points where his characters choose, decide, draw a line in the sand. Gary delved into discussion about kids (and adults) learning to do this very thing (and needing to do this very thing).

There is much more I could say about this humble, unassuming, personable man, but I will end with this. When I was getting my books signed, I gushed about how much my son and I love Gary's writing. And then I ejected the colossal burp. No, not a real burp but something just as embarrassing. I told Gary I'm working on a kid's book of my own. Sheesh. I try NOT to tell authors that because I'm sure they hear it all the time. Gary set down his pen, looked me in the eye, and said "Really?" He was genuinely interested.

Yes. What an evening it was.

But that's not all. I purchased a second (hardcover!) copy of Okay for Now and had Gary
sign it for one of you!

 
Comment on this post by Sunday, February 19th, at 8pm CT and be one of my blog followers
(if you're not already, just click on 'join this site') to enter the drawing.
International entries are welcome, and the winner will be
announced on Monday, February 20th.

Follow the MMGM links in my right sidebar for more great middle grade recommendations.
Happy middle grade reading!

26 comments:

  1. Interesting how he writes on a typewriter. I love meeting authors. It's so inspiring. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  2. He writes on a typewriter? wow O_O
    Thanks a lot for sharing. He sure is a great inspiration.

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  3. Wow, a typewriter! He looks so sweet. Glad he was nice to meet in person!

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  4. And the typewriter is a 1953 model. I forgot to mention that. Every writer's process is so different; that in itself is amazing.

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  5. Ok, a 1953 model typewriter... in a shed? I'm in awe. He must be an excellent typer.

    Thanks for the neat insights into his work!

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  6. I have not read any of Schmidt's work, i've wanted to, and now I''m even more curious. I literally went "What?!" out loud when he said he burns his first draft. I mean, I get it, but I don't think I'd ever have the guts to do so.

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    1. Danika, I didn't ask, but I'm assuming he meant he burns the draft before he even starts the new one--which I get too-- but definitely a 'What?!' moment.

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  7. I've wanted to read OKAY FOR NOW for ages. I love the cover.

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  8. Wow! That must have been so exciting! And what a great picture! It makes me even more excited to hear him this spring! I loved The Wednesday Wars and I have Okay For Now (although mine isn't signed), so you don't need to enter me in the giveaway, and I WILL read it before our SCBWI Conf (at least that is my goal). :)

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  9. That's an awesome story! I love this community. The authors are so giving and supportive, it's a truly wonderful thing.

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  10. This was one of my favorite reads in 2011, so I'm excited to share it! Thanks for visiting, everyone.

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  11. I really enjoyed this book. I was a bit disappointed it didn't get any award love, but I still love it anyway.

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    1. I was disappointed too. Thanks for visiting, Heidi, and thank you for the blog follow too!

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  12. How wonderful you got to meet him! He'll be at a conference I'm hoping to attend this spring - and I'll ask him about that burning his first draft thing!

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    1. Yes, do! I'm in awe if he burns the draft before starting a new one. I couldn't remember enough without something to look back upon. But then again, maybe that's the whole point.

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  13. How cool that you met him! It's so fascinating to hear where his stories came from. :)

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  14. I've wanted to read this book for a while - thanks for featuring it. How exciting to hear him talk about his writing!

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  15. would love to win it! Sounds so good! My 2012 resolution is to read more middle grade and these posts help me a lot

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  16. This sounds like a wonderful experience. The Children's Theater is such a great place. I might have to check this play out.

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  17. Oh, I will most definitely enter the fray, but I'll be delighted for whoever wins even if it's not me. :)

    I knew about the shed, but didn't know about the typwriter. And if he burns whole drafts, he's even more daring than Richard Peck, who throws away first chapters.

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  18. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win it, Barbara! I'm really enjoying your middle grade Mondays!!

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  19. Thanks for inviting me to your blog - I have lots of catching up to do reading your blog, but it is so relevant for me because I have so many avid readers in my home and I'm always trying to keep up with what they are reading and what they want to read!

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  20. Oh. my. goodness on the burp Barbara...like what are the chances?! I wish I could tell you that I am not laughing. I cannot. Thank you so much for sharing that night with us...and WOW on the type it out then burn it. And here I am struggling with starting over on my current wip? For him it is part of the process.

    Finally...EEEK! on an opportunity to have a signed copy of OKAY FOR NOW. Thank you for the heads up!

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  21. I love Gary Schmidt! How great that he writes on a typewriter. I used to write longhand in a spiral notebook, but then I worried I would be as old as Methuselah before I successfully finished a novel. So now it's on the old laptop. I do, however, prefer to edit on paper.

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  22. Oh yes, I would LOVE to read this! Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

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  23. I purchased THE WEDNESDAY WARS a year ago as one of the bookstores around here was closing, but I have yet to read it. And I received OKAY FOR NOW for Christmas, but have not picked that up either. I really need to get on that! Thanks for your quality posts.

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Comments. Yay! They're almost as good as chocolate. Almost.