I am very excited to celebrate Screen Free Week! from April 29th-May 5th. I don’t think that I’ll be completely screen free, but I will be online a lot less that week.
What will Screen-Free Week look like for me?
1. I will send less than 10 tweets a day.
2. I will only use email for work related purposes.
3. I will be completely screen free while my children are awake.
4. My blog will not run any new posts.
5. I will write daily with pencil and paper.
I think the perfect book to spend some time with during a screen free week would be Liesl Shurtliff’s RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. I’m very excited that two of my fourth graders, Gabby and Olivia, had the opportunity to interview Liesl after reading her book.
Gabby and Olivia’s words will appear in red, and Liesl’s in black.
Hi my name is Gabby and my name is Olivia and we have some questions for Miss Shurtliff. Can you please send these to her?
1: Why did you choose to take a famous fairytale and make it into something new?
Hi Gabby and Olivia. Thanks for interviewing me. It’s nice to finally get questions from my intended readership!
I chose to take this particular famous fairytale and make it new because I wasn’t very satisfied with the original. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story, but there are lots of unanswered questions. First of all, who is this Rumpelstiltskin guy? The story is called Rumpelstiltskin, but we don’t know where he comes from, how he got that strange name, how he learned to spin straw into gold, or why on earth he wants a baby. Don’t you think we should know these things? I do. So I decided to write Rump to answer them. I also decided that the original tale isn’t very fair to Rumpelstiltskin, so in my story he gets to be the hero. Justice!
2: The Miller is such a mean scary person, how did you create him?
I just thought of the meanest, greediest, most horrible person I ever met, like my fourth grade teacher…wait, just kidding. I LOVED my fourth grade teacher.
I don’t know anyone as mean as the miller, and I hope I never do, but I did create the miller by means of my mean-person memory, which is prone to exaggeration. When someone hurts our feelings or treats us unjustly, they become horrible, ugly, and just plain awful, don’t they? I thought of those instances when I created the miller, and I blew them up really big in my mind so he’d be just about the meanest, most greedy, scary person ever. I’m glad you thought I succeeded.
3: Why did you choose to have Red’s grandmother give Rump the seed?
That is such an insightful question. I think Red’s granny sees Rump in a way that no one else sees him. That is, she sees his potential, and knows that there is more to him than meets the eye, just like the seed. It’s part of her witchy powers. She gives Rump the seed as a way of saying “I know there are big things inside of you, even if you look small and inconsequential.” She can’t fix anything for him, or even tell him exactly what to do, but she can give him clues, like the seed. What he does with those things is up to him.
4: What made you want to be an author?
Stubbornness and bravery. Even though I always loved to write, I never thought I could be an author. But one day I decided I wasn’t going to let my insecurities tell me what I could or could not become. I love writing and I love stories, so I decided that I would write a story that I love and see what happens. So far I think that was a good decision.
Do you have any book recommendations for fantasy readers?
Here are some of my favorites middle-grade fantasy books, many of which I enjoyed when I was your age. (It wasn’t all that long ago, you know):
Matilda by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Basically anything by Roald Dahl
The Fairy Rebel by Lynn Reid Banks
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (Is it really necessary that I mention this? Oh well.)
Percy Jackson (Series) by Rick Riordan
The Emerald Atlas (Series) by John Stephens
Fablehaven (Series) by Brandon Mull
Do you have any steps for kids becoming authors?
Step 1: Read lots. Read all kinds of books. Fantasy, historical, contemporary, non-fiction. All of it!
Step 2: Read the really good books again and figure out why they’re so good.
Step 3: Write lots. Write all kinds of things. Poetry, true stories, fantasy, ghost stories, science articles, anything you like.
Step 4: Show your stories to someone, like your teacher. Ask them to tell you how you can make it better.
Step 5: Rewrite your stories to make them better.
Step 6: Repeat Steps 1-5 over and over for many years. Writing takes a lot of practice, but you can do it.
Step 7: When you think you’re ready, submit your work to publishers. Some will say no. That’s okay. EVERYONE gets the no’s. Some might say maybe/almost. That’s a good sign. If you keep going, one day one or more will say YES! And then you can share your stories with lots of people. That’s the best!
Thank you for your questions, Gabby and Olivia. Quite frankly, they were the best.