Beloved children’s author Jerry Spinelli visited Open Book Bookstore recently, and we had a wonderful visit! What a joy to see the faces of the kids looking at him as he spoke (and parents and teachers too)! He told great stories about how he came up with ideas for many of his books, including his newest, The Warden’s Daughter, which was inspired by meeting a girl who grew up in a prison as the warden’s daughter, and imagining what her life was like.
Jerry took the time to patiently and thoughtfully answer every question asked of him,and I picked up some very good advice for myself. Here are some of the things that Jerry said:
“Your memories are an old attic. They are full of cool stuff. I had no idea I was storing up stuff in the attic. I was just living my life. Those memories were just waiting for me to make them into stories.”
Advice for young writers: “Write what you care about. That’s going to be your best chance of touching the reader.”
Advice for all writers: “If you wait for life to give you the time and the mood and the opportunity to write, it most likely will never happen. Writing is a job, not a matter of waiting for the moment of inspiration.”
As for his writing job: “Some people pull out of their driveway and go to work. I pull out of my kitchen chair and go down to my office.” His office, he says, has a view of the lake and a hummingbird feeder. And since hummingbirds symbolize joy and the reminder to seek out the good in life and the beauty in each day, I’m guessing this wasn’t a random choice of birdfeeder, and it was a good one!
Asked who his favorite author is, Jerry answered without hesitation: “Eileen.” That would be his wife, Eileen Spinelli, herself a prolific author. Read her children’s picture book, When You Are Happy. It will bring you joy.
In sum, our customers were thrilled to welcome the Spinellis. The week before the event, someone saw the sign in our store window, walked in, looked at me and said: “Jerry Spinelli?” I smiled and said, “Yes.” He replied: “Jerry Spinelli, Jerry Spinelli?” as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune. It was good fortune for all of us.
Oh, look: there goes a hummingbird!