View our feature on Jacqueline Woodson's Feathers.What inspired you to write your first book?
“Hope is the thing with feathers” starts the poem Frannie is reading in school. Frannie hasn’t thought much about hope. There are so many other things to think about. Each day, her friend Samantha seems a bit more “holy.” There is a new boy in class everyone is calling the Jesus Boy. And although the new boy looks like a white kid, he says he’s not white. Who is he?
During a winter full of surprises, good and bad, Frannie starts seeing a lot of things in a new light—her brother Sean’s deafness, her mother’s fear, the class bully’s anger, her best friend’s faith and her own desire for “the thing with feathers.”
Jacqueline Woodson once again takes readers on a journey into a young girl’s heart and reveals the pain and the joy of learning to look beneath the surface.
I wanted to see if I could. I had always loved the physical act of writing and had always wanted to be a novelist. But the biggest inspiration, I think, was the challenge.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
Many writers who came before me including Baldwin, Hamilton, Taylor and Hemingway. Some teachers. My friends.
How has your environment/upbringing influenced your writing?
It's informed the sense of place, the people, the things I want to say.
What books have most influenced your life?
So many, I wouldn't even know where to begin and wouldn't want to leave any out so won't even try to begin naming.
What book are you reading now?
The March by E.L. Doctorow. A new novel by Alex Sanchez and I just finished A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. I've read that one a lot.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Write everyday for a least a half hour. Turn off the television. Read novels if you're writing novels, fantasy if you're writing fantasy, etc. But READ because reading makes one a better writer.
If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?
Hmmmm... I don't know. I guess I'd like to leave them with one good book that stays with them always.
What are you working on now?
Answering these questions! Then hopefully, getting back to the novel I'm not yet talking about. Ask me again in December and maybe I'll be more comfortable with discussing it. It's too fragile right now.
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