Interview: Judy Blume
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Current Song: Will & Grace score music
Judy Blume's novels, picture books, and short stories have touched multiple generations. My favorite Blume book is Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, which I read over and over again when I was little. When I was asked to be part of her blog tour, I was quite flattered. I started things off with:
Having written successfully for many different age groups, from young readers to adults, do you find any particular audience more difficult to appease than the others?
It's not about the audience. That is, I don't think about the audience when I'm writing. That would be dangerous. I'm totally into the characters and their story. It's equally difficult for me, regardless of the age group. I dread first drafts. It's gets a bit easier on the 2nd and 3rd drafts, and after that I might even enjoy the process. I'm a reviser. My best ideas come in later drafts, when I really know my characters.
Along the same lines, when you first think of a story idea, do you automatically consider the ideal audience, knowing it will be juvenile / teen / adult fiction?
Well, I know if the character in my mind is in first grade it's going to be a book for younger children. But, again, I don't think in terms of audience. It's all about character and story.
The Pain and the Great One started as a poem, then became a picture book. Now you have a whole line of Pain short story collections. What prompted the new series?
Yes, I first wrote it quickly as a prose poem on a rainy afternoon when our house was filled with neighborhood children and my son and daughter were in 1st and 3rd grades. Then I stuck it in a desk drawer and didn't think about it until I got a call asking if I had anything to contribute to Free To Be You and Me. They liked The Pain and the Great One and included it in the book. A couple of years later Bradbury Press brought out a picture book using the same prose poem, with charming illustrations by Irene Trivas.
I've always wanted to write about these characters again, but this time in a longer book, or a set of books, where I could get to know their family and their friends. I wrote one story a couple of years ago just to see if I could do it. I liked it and thought, "This is going to be fun!" But then other projects got in the way so I had to put The Pain and the Great One aside. Finally, I said, "It's now or never!"
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was first published in 1972. Fudge turned three; Peter was only nine years old; and Tootsie had yet to be born. In 2008, Fudge would be 39, Tootsie 33, and Peter (and Sheila) 45. Do you ever consider what they would be doing in their adulthood, their middle age?
Peter and Fudge can never grow up!
You are passionate while discussing banned and challenged books, be they your own or the works of others. You edited Places I Never Meant to Be, a short story collection combining the efforts of multiple authors, with proceeds going to the National Coalition Against Censorship. Any advice for a reader who wants to challenge a challenge, protest a ban, and fight censorship locally?
Yes. The National Coalition Against Censorship put this tool kit together for my website. Check it out. You'll find everything you need to know about fighting censorship there. But the first step is to get involved. Read the book that's been challenged. Censors usually take words and phrases out of context. Remember, it's never about just one book. If you say, "Well, I don't care if they ban that book," the next time it could be one of your favorites. Where does it stop? Where do you draw the line? The book that may be wrong for your child or your family may be the very book that's perfect for another child or another family. That's why it's important to have a wide variety of books from which to choose. Intellectual freedom is one of our rights. It's up to all of us to protect it.
Visit Judy Blume's website.
Visit the other stops on Judy Blume's blog tour!
12/1: Big A, little a
12/4: Jen Robinson's Book Page
12/9: The Well-Read Child
12/10: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
12/12: A Patchwork of Books
Hey readers - What do you think Peter, Sheila, Fudge, and Tootsie would be doing now that they're all grown up? Leave your comments below!