Shana Burg Blog Tour
7/17: Mr. Schu Reads
7/17: Sharp Read
7/20: Journey of a Bookseller
7/22: Nerdy Book Club
7/24: From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
7/25: Read, Write, Reflect
7/26: The Musings of a Book Addict
7/30: The Pirate Tree
7/31: The Pirate Tree
As we reach the middle of the summer I am really starting to miss spending time with fourth graders every day. I have decided to interview author Shana Burg in a way, that will allow me to share the interview with my new fourth graders in the fall.
Shana, thank you so much for taking a little bit of time to answer a few of my questions. I enjoyed your book, Laugh With The Moon, tremendously. Thank you for taking me to Malawian. After reading Laugh with the Moon I read a little bit about you own personal visit there on your website: http://shanaburg.com/bio/
When writing fiction, I often encourage my fourth graders to think about writing a story about something that they are passionate about.
What advice would you give young writers about taking something that they have experienced and/or are passionate it about and fictionalizing it?
This is a great thing to do! Since you usually will not want to portray a person you know exactly as they are without their permission, you might decide to create composite characters. A composite is when you take traits of several different people you know and mix them together to create a whole new person. Another technique you can use is to work from photographs. I did this a lot when I wrote Laugh with the Moon. For the character of Memory, I used a photograph of a girl I had met who was about the right age, but other than that, I hardly knew her at all. Still, I looked at the photograph and imagined what her personality might be like based on her shy smile and serious eyes.
My fourth graders often LOVE to draft their stories and they often LOATH revision.
What part of the writing process do you enjoy most? Is there a part that you do not love?
To me, writing a first draft is exciting, but oh so scary, because I usually have no idea what’s going to happen and if I’m just wasting all of my time on something that stinks. I love revising, because no matter how bad what I just wrote is I have the chance to make it better. And it usually is better—way better—after I revise. It makes me feel good to see how my work improves with each draft. I think that I love it all when things are working out, and I really don’t love it when there’s a problem I can’t solve and it’s keeping me up at night.
What advice would you give young writers that are interested in becoming professional writers when they grow up?
My advice is to live life! What I mean is that you want to have some adventures. And I don’t mean sailing solo around the world before you hit your teenage years. I’m talking about adventures you can have right in your own neighborhood, like trying to learn a new language that nobody you know speaks, or maybe figuring out how to make your own backpack, or—and here’s the best one—getting to be friends with lots of kids who are really different from you. It’s these experiences that give writers subjects to write about.
Other than that, keep a journal of your experiences, and of course, read. Read fiction and nonfiction. Read cookbooks and magazines. It doesn’t matter what, but just read and without even knowing it, you’ll absorb the techniques of good writing, and you’ll learn to recognize bad writing, which is just as important.
Any time that my fourth graders get a chance to interact with an author, they always ask the following question. Last year my students said that they think that it’s the most important question that you can ask an author.
What MG books would you recommend to young readers?
I love The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger because it’s hilarious. I really enjoyed Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, which is historical fiction written in free verse. David Almond’s book Skellig is another favorite of mine because of the lyrical, mystical writing. And I also think Savvy by Ingrid Law is amazing because it’s so imaginative and whimsical.
Shana, thank you so much for answering my questions today. I can’t wait to share your responses with my fourth graders in the fall!
I’m giving away one copy of Shana’s book Laugh With The Moon.
* The giveaway runs from July 17 to July 20 at 11:59 PM EST. I will draw a winner when I return from vacation July 24.