SCBWI Team Blog Exclusive Interview: Laurie Halse Anderson


SCBWI couldn't have called on a better writer to cap off this summer's conference experience, as they'll bring Laurie Halse Anderson to the stage to deliver the final keynote and send conference-goers on their way to tackle creative endeavors.

That said, before we get any further, if you have any wish, desire, inkling, etc. to go to the summer conference, the time to register is NOW. For the first time in SCBWI history, they will be closing registrations. Go HERE to register. Registration will close on Monday, July 18th and no part-time or walk-in registrations will be allowed.

But let's get back to Laurie. Laurie Halse Anderson is the award-winning and best-selling author of many books for children of all ages, including SPEAK and CHAINS (both National Book Award finalists).

It's a real treat to welcome Laurie Halse Anderson here to Cuppa Jolie.

One of your Facebook status updates last week said, “Laurie has been writing all week and is very happy about that.” With a very busy life and schedule, how do you ensure you get the writing time you need? And, can I take a guess that perhaps this will be a bit of what you’ll discuss during your conference break-out (The Nuts and Bolts of Crafting a Creative Life:Finding Lost Time and Reclaiming Creativity)?

It has become a little easier to make writing time now that our youngest has flown the nest. However, as our kids (all four of them) were starting to drive themselves to soccer practice and not require homework help, we became responsible for our elderly parents. And - to my shock and horror - I've found that being a published author actually takes time away from writing, instead of magically creating more hours in the day. I have developed a few Highly Secret Methods over the years, though, enough to have helped me carve out the time to write 27 books in the last 18 years. I'm looking forward to sharing them with everyone!

How has your writing life changed, if at all, since you’ve been in your lovely writing cottage?

The cottage is heaven on earth because I can relax there, free from the nagging worry I might be interrupted. It is also lovely to be able to look around the space and NOT see undone household tasks like laundry that needs to be put away or tumbleweeds of dog hair. But the absolute best aspect of it? That would have to be a tie between the beauty of the space and the the luxury of solitude. While I love traveling and meeting readers and fellow writers, the truth is that I am deeply introverted. Spending time around other people drains all the creativity and ink from my soul. The solitude of my cottage in the woods helps refill it.

(See video of Laurie's writing cottage below.)



You’ve experienced the bumpy ride of having your books challenged. How do you continue to write without fear, or have the challenges only created a fire in you when it comes to story and honesty?

The first couple of dozen times my books were challenged, I took it very personally. I bawled like a baby and wasted untold days paralyzed by the thought that anyone would think I'd ever seek to harm a child.

Then I got over myself.

Book challenges say very little about the book being targeted (or the author!) and rather a lot about the people bringing the challenge. Our intellectual freedoms are worth standing up and fighting for. I'm happy to plunge into battle when the trumpets sound!

You’ll be sending conference-goers on their way, following your closing keynote. Can you give us a little taste of your talk: Daring the Universe?

Here's a sneak peek of my keynote:
1. Life is short.
2. Death is guaranteed.
3. Given Point 1 and Point 2, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by embracing your creativity every day!

A huge thank you to you, Laurie.

For the rest of you, those already registered I'm certain you're looking forward to the big event beginning August 5. Everyone else...hurry, hurry, hurry so you can join us too. But, if you can't be with us in LA, SCBWI Team Blog has you covered as we'll be be blogging live from the conference floor.