Clare Vanderpool, Newbery Medal-winning author of "Moon Over Manifest," discusses the inspiration for that book and her writing process, and offers advice to young writers. This video is part of the NBC Learn original series "Writers Speak to Kids."
Writers Speak to Kids- Clare Vanderpool
JENNA BUSH HAGER, reporting:
Where do you get your ideas?
CLARE VANDERPOOL: The idea for Moon Over Manifest - really the big answer to that is that it just came from a lot of life experience. I have lived in the same town - I live in Wichita, Kansas - I live in the same neighborhood I grew up in. So place is very important to me, my surroundings, my geography, the things that are familiar to me. I came across a quote from Moby Dick that says, "It is not down on any map, true places never are." And, I always give a disclaimer I haven't read Moby Dick, I found that quote in a different book, but it really kind of struck a chord and got the creative juices flowing. I started thinking "What is a true place?" My definition of a true place is what I just described, my home, my surroundings, all the memories that are around every corner for me. But then, I started thinking about what would a true place be for a young girl who had never lived any place for any length of time, more than a few weeks or months at a time. And I would have to say Abilene just kind of showed up on my doorstep, knocked on that door and said, "I'm the one that this story is about," and that was a real gift.
BUSH HAGER: What is your writing process?
VANDERPOOL: The process for me starts usually starts with, I sit on the floor in my bedroom with my back up against the ottoman of the chair. And I have a blanket laid out for me to sit on and my dog and a cup of tea and a spiral notebook. If I turn the space heater on that's bad because I'll fall asleep! And then I just stare off into space and usually I've already got a bit of a storyline in my head and I just have to start asking a lot of what-if questions and that's what the notebook is for. I’ll write out, "well what if this happens and what if she does this and what if he thinks this and maybe this happens." And so there’s just pages and pages of those kinds of questions and musings and notes. The actual writing process for me is probably the most challenging because it's hard for me to take the words off the page once I put them on. So I try to be careful and not just type away just for the sake of putting words on the page, I’m pretty cautious about that.
BUSH HAGER: What do you like best about writing?
VANDERPOOL: It's just so creative, you know. I love to read, I love a good story, I love to tell a good story and I love to hear one. For me, it's all about dreaming and imagining a wonderful story, getting it down on paper sometimes thinking, you know, "Am I really going to be able to pull this off?" Just kind of having both sides of the brain working at the same time, you know, the craft and the creativity. And I find it fun every day.
BUSH HAGER: What advice do you have for young writers?
VANDERPOOL: I always tell them whatever it is you want to do you do have to work at it. You have to spend the time, put in the blood, sweat, and tears. And, you know, that's not meant to be a scary thing because if it's something you're interested in and you’re curious about and you love to do it, it shouldn't be that painful either. So I would just encourage them to jump in and do it.
Like a lot of young people, Joanna Rakoff took the first job she was offered, at one of New York's oldest literary agencies. But she had no idea what the business entailed. She didn't realise this agency represented the celebrated J D Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye", or that it would be the first stepping stone on the way to becoming a writer and later, the novelist she is today.