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Thursday, February 24, 2011

More 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?

"I think there are certain books that have the power to change or expand the way we think. I read as much as I can, and most of it is fabulous, but there are those rare gems that really stand out and encourage me to apply the same boldness and honesty to my own writing." - Lauren Destefano, author of Wither. 

 "I do believe that.  Books, unlike movies, are so personal. When you read a book, you're not sharing the experience with a hundred other people in a theater, or even with someone sitting on the couch beside you.  The book is for you and you alone.  And when a book speaks to you...well it can be a transformative experience. It's happened to me many times, actually.  The most profound was when I picked up a copy of Harry Potter.  Until that point, I was unaware of the power that children's books had.  I mean, I'd read a lot of great kids books as a kid, but I'd abandoned them in my teens.  Reading Harry Potter reintroduced me to the magic.  If I hadn't picked up that book I might never have rediscovered YA and might never have written The Deathday Letter." - Shaun David Hutchinson, author of The Deathday Letter.

"Absolutely - I think the universe intervened by putting me in a situation where I had the time to write." - Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade

"I'm of the belief that anything can change your life: art, a song, something your grandmother says to you, a story. I remember reading David Levithan's The Realm of Possibility on a plane and thinking, 'I want to write like this.' It planted a seed that led me to quit my job and take a chance on a writing career. So yes, it definitely changed my life." - Robin Benway, author of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June

"Absolutely I believe that the right book at the right time can change a life. One of the best things about books is they can get us to think about things in a completely new way." - Jackie Kessler, author of Rage

"Absolutely. Certainly writing the right book at the right time can change a life. But also, reading the right book can, too. It can change the way you see the world, or it can inspire you to action. I've had this happen many times. One of the best things about books for me is reading a really stellar, well-written novel and feeling challenged to write something THAT GOOD." - Cynthia Hand, author of Unearthly.

"I do. I had been working on a YA contemporary and stressing if my style was too edgy (a few f bombs, mentions of sex, etc), then I discovered Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and realized I could write dialogue that was true to my characters." - Judith Graves, author of Under My Skin.

"Absolutely yes, and yes! I wouldn't have wanted to be a writer if that hadn't happened to me. I wouldn't still be writing if I didn't have the desire do that for someone else." - Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

"It’s certainly possible. I’m not the sort of person who generally experiences dramatic, sudden shifts, but books have, at certain times, either helped me process difficult things in my life or given me a welcome distraction from them." - Veronica Roth, author of Divergent

"Absolutely. My life changed the second I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." - Myra McEntire, author of Hourglass.


"Definitely! There have been lots of life-changing books for me. Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes, Stephen King's On Writing, George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones... All really different books that have been really important at various times in my life for too many reasons to get into.  What's interesting to me is how some books can change your "writing life," others your personal life. And every once and awhile, a book comes along that does both." - Rachel Hawkins, author of Demonglass

"Absolutely. And yes, many times over. Many books I’ve read have sparked new interests and have therefore become a part of my identity. It’s the most magical thing about books, to me, and reminds me how privileged I am to have written one." - Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

"I distinctly remember the moment when I grasped the beauty of sacrificial giving. I was nine years old and befriending Sara Crewe in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess. It was the middle of the story, and my heroine was trudging through a snowstorm, hungry and wet, when she actually found a four-penny piece. As she entered a baker’s shop, though, Sara passed “a little figure more forlorn than herself … with big, hollow, hungry eyes.” Sara bought four buns and the kind baker added two more. One by one, Sara placed five buns in the other girl’s lap, keeping only one for herself. I remember being astounded by the gesture because at that point in the story my heart was aching over Sara’s suffering. And now my literary friend had given away the food I had so wanted her to relish! But somehow I knew it was the right thing to do. From that point on, in my travels across the globe, as I encountered children in poverty, I would remember that scene in The Little Princess and be stirred to respond. I pray and hope that my books can have a similar effect on readers." - Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People.

"Anytime a book alters your way of thinking, it alters your life. In that sense, I suppose it has happened to me." - Dia Reeves, author of Slice of Cherry.


"The right book at the right time can definitely change a life—certain books have shaped me at every step in my life.  And I don’t expect that to ever change!"- Emily Wing Smith, author of The Way He Lived.

"I do, and it has.  For me it was the introduction to YA by a friend of mine. Up until then, I’d never even considered writing for anyone other than adults, but once I read that book (The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven), I knew I wanted to write for a completely different audience." - Kimberly Derting, author of Desires of the Dead.

"It definitely can.  I first read Gone with the Wind when I was 12, and became so interested in history as a result that I think it really set me on a different academic path than what I might have been on otherwise.  I majored in history in college, and then did graduate work in American History, all because one book made me a total Civil War buff.  But more importantly, I like to think that some books--like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak--can really have a positive impact on kids going through rough times." - Kristi Cook, author of Haven.

"Absolutely.  I've had a lot of 'right book at the right time' sort of books. Books that said exactly what I needed to hear at that moment, and fit into a little place in my heart." - Holly Hoxter, author of The Snowball Effect.

Find out Tuesday what the hardest part of starting a new book is and whether the authors have a trick to kick-start the writing process!


  1. First of all, how cool is it that David Levithan inspired Robin Benway to write??? As for me, I will always be grateful to Madeleine L'Engle for writing A Wrinkle in Time. That book made me want to be a writer!

  2. I love getting these little author insights from these posts. Thank you!