I’m so excited to share this week’s new episode featuring the legendary Jerry Spinelli of the Newbery Medal winning Maniac Magee, and the Newbery Honor winner Wringer. He’s the New York Times bestselling author of over 30 novels including Stargirl, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. Stargirl is also being adapted into a movie directed by Catherine Hardwicke from the films Thirteen and Twilight.
In describing Jerry’s writing, The New York Times says, “No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion.”
In Jerry’s episode, we jump right into his childhood stories that paved the way to his journey as an author, and we touch back on the experience that led Jerry to realizing he could make a career out of writing. We dive a little deeper to discuss how he created a writing life that involved a full-time job and raising a family.
Further into Jerry’s episode, he brings us behind the scenes in writing Maniac Magee. He also shares the inspiration behind his newest book, The Warden’s Daughter and the important differences between writing “for” the audience and writing “about” the audience.
Jerry shares his take on writing honest stories for your readers and crafting authentic voices for your characters. He also walks us through his loose writing structure and shares tips on financially supporting yourself as a writer that works with your lifestyle. If you’ve been feeling stuck with your writing lately, look out for the part where Jerry explains what the “miserable middle” is, and his advice on coping with those moments and why it’s crucial to not give authority to writers’ block. For listeners who are about to send off query letters to literary agents, you’ll want to pay special attention to Jerry’s querying tips and why writing short query letters will help to show that you’re an effective writer.
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“I wanted to be a writer even if I didn’t know how.”
“I don’t write for kids, I write about kids.”
“I just put the best story that I can out there and hope that the readers will come to it.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- How to create your own writing life while working a full-time job and raising a family
- Jerry’s advice on writing honest stories for your readers
- The difference between writing “for” and writing “about” an audience
- The inspiration behind The Warden’s Daughter
- How to craft authentic voices for your characters
- Jerry describes the “miserable middle” and how to cope with those moments
- The inspiration behind Maniac Magee
- Jerry walks us through his loose writing structure
- How writing a short query letter will show your effectiveness as a writer
- Tips on financially supporting yourself as a writer that works for your lifestyle
- Small manageable steps you can take to reach your writing goals
- The importance of not giving authority to writers’ block
From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee, Stargirl) comes the “moving and memorable” (Kirkus Reviews, starred) story of a girl searching for happiness inside the walls of a prison.
Cammie O’Reilly lives at the Hancock County Prison–not as a prisoner, she’s the warden’s daughter. She spends the mornings hanging out with shoplifters and reformed arsonists in the women’s excercise yard, which gives Cammie a certain cache with her school friends.
But even though Cammie’s free to leave the prison, she’s still stuck. And sad, and really mad. Her mother died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. You wouldn’t think you could miss something you never had, but on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, the thing Cammie most wants is a mom. A prison might not be the best place to search for a mother, but Cammie is determined and she’s willing to work with what she’s got.
Learn More About Jerry Spinelli
Jerry’s Recommended Books & Resources:
Dancing in the Street by Martha Reeves and The Vandellas
Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaughnessy