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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Author Insight: Right book, right time...

Do you believe that the right book at the right time can change a life? Has it ever happened to you?

"Absolutely. It happens to me all the time, in both big ways and small ways.  Every time I read a book, it makes me think.  Think about how I would react if something similar happened to me, think about why our world works the way it does.  Every book broadens our horizons – sometimes in ways we don't fully understand until much later.
" - Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society.


"Yes, and yes. The Chronicles of Narnia--I read them as a child, and re-read them, and it was through them that I learned books can be more than books." - Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe.

"I absolutely believe that a book can change a life. It has happened for me, not in a singular moment of epiphany but over a series of repeated readings. The book that has had the greatest impact on my life is Thoreau’s Walden, especially his ideas on individualism, imagining and living one’s life for oneself, and defining one’s own standards for success and happiness outside of society’s emphasis on shallow materialism." - Ty Roth, author of So Shelly.

"Yes. Looking for Alaska by John Green is what inspired me to try writing YA. As far as content, there was a book called Cowslip by Betsy Haynes that I read over and over as a kid. It was about a slave girl and for the first time I realized how it felt to look at the world through the eyes of another person. " - Cynthia Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets.

"Absolutely! I remember breathlessly finishing Tom Robbins’ Skinny Legs and All in college, and the next day I went and signed up for my first creative writing class, all because of that book. The funny part is that I originally thought of myself as a poet and terribly dreaded the prose section of the class. About five years after I graduated, I met Tom at a dinner party and thanked him for ruining my life. I’d had it all planned out until I read his book and got hooked on writing. It shocked him so much that he took off his sunglasses to stare at me. SCORE!" - Carrie Harris, author of Bad Taste in Boys.

"Yes, definitely. I believe that can happen. I wouldn't say that a particular book has changed my life personally, but books have made my life immeasurably better." - Maurissa Guibord, author of  Warped.

"I don't think I've ever read a book that hasn't affected me in some way, or that I haven't learned something from. But there are certainly a few books that have changed me and had very obvious affects on my life. The Perks of Being a Wallflower and My Heartbeat come to mind." - Hannah Moskowitz, author of Invincible Summer. 

"I know anecdotally of books changing lives, but for me, it’s more the accumulation of books. A little from one, a little from another, perhaps a lot from a third, and before long, my world view gets altered and shifted." - Tracy Barrett, author of King of Ithaka.

"Growing up, The Witch from Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton Mifflin, 1958) meant a great deal to me. I wholeheartedly identified with Kit. As for my own books, I’ve heard from two teenage girls that they left their abusive boyfriends in part because Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) made them think. I heard from one aunt who said her niece had been silent about the death of a best friend until reading Rain Is Not My Indian Name, and then began opening up, using the book as a bridge. She’d begin, 'I know how Rain felt when….'" - Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Blessed.

"Hellz yeah!  The Bell Jar and On the Road changed my life in high school.  Oddly enough, Kitchen Confidential inspired me to write.  And Cold Comfort Farm always gets me through the tough personal times in my life." - Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess.

"I absolutely do. I have a feeling that it is a life in crisis that most needs a book. My life has not been in crisis very often, thank goodness, but I have turned to books for solace. At one turbulent point in my life I read all of L. M. Montgomery's diaries, and SHE had a very turbulent life, which helped me get through my own problems (that seemed, comparatively, very minor!)" - Jaclyn Dolamore, author of  Between the Sea and Sky.

"I read the Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, at the same time I was thinking about trying to write something new (I'd been writing adult historical romance until that point). I loved the book so much it started me reading YA, and inspired me to try writing it myself. That was how I came to write Delcroix Academy, which has certainly changed my life!" - Inara Scott, author of Delcroix Academy: The Candidates.

"Absolutely. The right book in the right hands can, honestly, change a person. For me, I’ve had books make me see things in a different light or even discover things about myself. Even one line can spark something inside of a person." - Kim Harrington, author of Clarity. 

"I absolutely believe that. Actually, I think the right artform at the right time can change a life. My best example isn't a book, it's a movie. I was feeling utterly burned out and uninspired in my life, work and career. Then I saw Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and it turned everything around for me. The story of how all those people came together to make such a stunning film told me I could do anything creatively. As far as books, when I read The House of Mirth in my 20s, it gave me so much perspective on my life and where I needed to take it. That might sound weird if you know anything about the book, but it would make sense if I explained it over coffee..." - Sara Bennett Wealer, author of Rival.

"Absolutely. I think every book has the potential to change lives. I think every one does, even if it's in an infinitesimal way. I could say the first book I ever read completely changed my life, and it did; it was Miss Nelson is Missing, and I loved it so much, and I think part of the reason I like my little mysteries and twist endings in my books is because of that book." - Stacia Kane, author of City of Ghosts.

Come back Thursday to find out if the rest of the authors think the right book at the right time can change a life.
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  1. Wonderful post! I completely agree. Books have always served as anchors and honing beacons for me - they've helped me develop my own character and opened my eyes to things I may not have seen before; if you are a lucky person and truly love reading, I think they also hold you afloat when you need it most.

  2. Terrific post that shows the many individal routes to the same conclusion. I especially love the lineages: Now kids are writing you all to say how books have changed their lives!

  3. Oh that was so fascinating to read, great post!

    Bizarrely, I've just posted about the book that changed my life today on my blog. I think if you read a lot of books and none of them change you at least a little, you're not really paying attention.