Articles Blog

Margaret Peterson Haddix: 2010 National Book Festival

Margaret Peterson Haddix: 2010 National Book Festival


>>From The Library of
Congress in Washington, DC>>Member of the Washington
Post Sunday outlook section. The post is very, very proud
to be a charter sponsor of the festival again this year. Before we get started
I need to inform you that the pavilions presentations
are being filmed for the Library of Congresses website
and for their archive. Please be mindful of this as
you enjoy the presentation. In addition, please do not sit on
the camera risers that are located in the back of the pavilion. Thank you. It is my great pleasure to be introducing Margaret
Peterson Haddix today. [ Applause ]>>Margaret grew up on a farm
in Ohio and after graduating from Miami University
worked for several years as a newspaper editor and reporter. Her years as a journalist who
covered fact helped pave the way for her fiction in a
number of ways not least by making her an astonishing
fast productive writer. Today she is the author of more than
twenty books for kids and teens. They includeRunning
Out of Time
[HC1],Mrs.Dunphrey,The Shadow
Children
series andFound, which is the first book in a
new series calledThe Missing. Her books have been honored with The
International Reading Associations Children’s book award and The American Library
Associations Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young
Adult Readers Notations among other awards and citations. Her two most recent books are
into the Gauntlet
, the tenth and final volume in the thirty nine
clue series andClaim to Fame.Claim to Fame.Claim to Fametells the story
of Lindsey Scott, a teenager who, as a young child, was the star of
a hit TV show, but who withdrew from the public eye after what
looked like a nervous breakdown. Now at 16 she’s back in the news
with a tabloid newspaper claiming that shes being held
hostage by her Father. The truth turns out
to be quite different. Reviewers have hailed
theClaim to Fameas a thought provoking story laced
with themes of transcendentalism, self-centeredness and in the
importance of connectivity. The bulletin in the center for
children’s books has this to say. Haddix’s characters are
as usual superbly drawn and Lindsey’s struggle to
shape her identity independent of what others think of
her will surely resinate with many young readers. Please join me in welcoming
Margaret Peterson Haddix. [ Applause ]>>Margaret Peterson
Haddix: Thank you. I actually have an even newer
book, which somehow I think that information was neglected
to be given to somebody but I’m no promotingSabotage,
which is the third book inThe Missing seriesand I’m
discovering that its very difficult to talk about a third
book in a series when sometimes people
don’t know anything about the series as a whole. So I’m kind of backing up
and explaining a little bit about the first book, which is
calledFoundand the way I got that idea for that particular book
and the series as a whole was all because I feel asleep
on an airplane. And I woke up just as the
plane was starting to land. And because I had been very tired and it was along trip I was
totally disoriented when I woke up. I could not remember where I
had been, couldn’t remember where I was going and in that
very first instant of waking up I really wasn’t even sure of
who I was so I was really confused. Now fortunately it was not
a case of long term amnesia. In a few minutes, once I was fully
awake, I remembered who I was, were I was going, were I’d been, I
was fine but I was really fascinated by that moment of just total
disorientation and total confusion. And as an author anytime
that there’s something that really fascinates me, I kind of automatically think how
can I put that in a book? And so I started thinking about the
fact that as an adult any time I fly on an airplane I have to have
some form of identification, either a passport or a driver’s
license or something like that. But kids are allowed to fly on
airplanes without identification. And so I started thinking that there
could be a kid or an entire group of kids who were disoriented
and confused on an airplane and if there weren’t any
adults with them who knew who they were how would
anybody know? And the more I thought about this
idea the more it evolved and changed and pretty soon I wasn’t just
thinking about as kid or group of kids being lost and disoriented
on an airplane I was thinking about a bunch of babies
showing up out of nowhere and nobody knowing who they were. And so that is how the first book
in this seriesFoundbegins. A plane lands at an airport in
the midwest and its not scheduled to land and nobody knows what its
doing there and they try to talk to the pilot, pilot doesn’t respond
so finally somebody just walks onto the airplane and discovers
that there’s not a single adult on the entire plane but every seat
in the passenger section is full. Every seat contains a baby. And then the action skips
ahead thirteen years and there are these two thirteen
year old boys name Jonah and Chip who in the course of talking to
each other discover that both of them were adopted as infants
and neither of them knows anything about their birth parents. And in Jonahs case he doesn’t
think that’s a big deal. He’s always known he was adopted, his attitude is kind
of like well so what. But then he and Chip both start
getting these mysterious letters. And the first letter that they get
says, “You are one of the missing,” and that’s all it says and they
don’t know what this means. They don’t know if it’s
a prank, they don’t know if they should take it
seriously, they’re just kind of freak out by the whole thing. Then they get the second letter
and the second letter says, “Beware they’re coming
back to get you”. And then a lot of other
things happen in the book but I won’t tell you what they
are because it would ruin it if you haven’t read the book. I will tell you that after that
The Missing
becomes a time travel series and in the second book, which
is calledScentJonah and Chip and Jonahs younger brother Katherine and another boy whose
name is Alex all go back to the year 1483 together. And I can tell you having done a
lot of research about the year 1483 that that is not at all the year
that I would choose to go back to if I had the power
to travel through time, mainly because I happen
to like indoor plumbing. [ Laughter ]>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: And the middle ages were just not
a very pleasant time to live in and very dangerous including
dangerous to my poor characters and then in this book I’m
moved to another time period and another story of
children in danger. And it revolves around the Virginia
Dare story and I’m just curious if anybody would raise
their hand if you learned about Virginia Dare
when you were in school. Okay I saw this boy back here
had his hand up immediately. Let’s see the hands,
who learned about it? This is very interesting because I
just started my book tour promoting this book in California
and evidently that Virginia Dare story is not at
all in the curriculum in California. So I’m saying does anybody
know who Virginia Dare is? And I have classrooms full of
blank looks looking at me so I have to tell the whole story
but I can tell here many of you already know this story. It’s a fascinating story that Virginia Dare was the first
English child born in North America because she was born in
the first English colony, which was not terribly far away from
here in what is now North Carolina. And the funny thing about her is
I kind of think of it as being like if now a days we had
a colony started on Mars. And I think that if there
was a colony started on Mars if there were a child who
was the very first child born in Mars we would know everything
about this child’s entire existence. That pretty much every minute of
her life would probably be filmed and recorded and when it got to be the little Martians baby’s
first birthday it would be like oh the first child born
on Mars is now one year old and then you’d see her fifth
birthday and when she graduated from high school you’d
know exactly how that went. Well in 1587 when Virginia Dare
was the first English child born in the Roanoke Colony it
was a little bit harder to keep tract of people. In fact we really only
know two things about her. We know that she was born, we know
that she was baptized and that’s it because the main person who
was keeping tract of her and everything else in the Roanoke
colony was her Grandfather who left when she was only about nine
days old went back to England to get more supplies and intended to
come right away to help his colony but because of various problems
including the Spanish Armada it was three years before he
was able to come back and see how his colony was doing. And so finally he got back to
Roanoke Island to see his colony and nobody was there and there was
only one word as a clue the word “croatoan” carved into a
post and from that he decided that it probably meant that
his entire colony had moved to a nearby island called Croatoan. And it is amazing to me that in
after that nobody went to check on Croatoan to see what
happened to his colony. So for the past four hundred years
people have wondered what happened to Virginia Dare and the other
hundred or so colonists who were in the Roanoke colony and
as the more research I did about this the more
I really, really, really wanted to know
what really happened. And I think at the distance of four
hundred years it’s pretty impossible to know for sure so I got to make
up all sorts of different things as possibilities and my explanation
is sabotage includes things like time travel as an
explanation for what happen. So I’m guessing that its probably
not the most plausible explanation for what happened but I had a great
deal of fun making all of that up and really hope that readers that
will also enjoy the story a lot. So I think an adequate amount
of time that if people want to start coming up to the
microphones you can do that and you are welcome to
ask about any of my books. You can ask about this
series or anything else. And I will kind of bounce back
and forth between the microphones. So I’ll start right there.>>What was the inspiration for
The Shadow Children’s
series?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
What was the inspiration forThe Shadow Children’sseries?? I first started thinking about
that idea because my husband and I were trying to decide
whether to have a third child and this was a hard
decision for us to make. When our kids were being
very sweet and loving and you know wrapping
their arms around us and saying we love you Mommy we
love you Daddy we’d think oh its so wonderful being parents
lets just have twenty kids. And then other times and
I’m sure all the parents in the crowd can perhaps
identify with this moment. When our kids were doing things
like throwing temper tantrums because Mommy my socks are
on crooked make it stop. We would think it is
really hard being parents. There is no way we could
have a third child. If we had three kids we’d be out
numbered that would be impossible. So we’d go back and forth and it’s
really hard to make a decision under those circumstances
so we started looking for something factual and rational
to help us and so we started talking about over population and in
the context of trying to make such a personal decision
myself thinking about the fact that in some countries in the world
people are told how many kids they are allowed to have that made me
start thinking about how awful that would be and it so it
made me think of the society where people are only
allowed to have two kids and so Luke the main character has
to hide because he’s a third child.>>InThe Missing series
you were doing people like Virginia Dare would you do any
of the books on Anastasia Romanov?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: The
question is inThe Missing seriessince I’m looking at
mystery children of history like Virginia Dare would
I consider doing someone like Anastasia Romanov? That is actually someone that at
the beginning I very much intended to explore that story
and in-between the time that I wrote the first
bookFoundand the time that I’m thinking I would be writing
that book there was this major news that came out of Russia, which was that they have positively
identified her bones and determined that yes she was killed defiantly
they know that for a fact and so that really complicates
things for me. And I’m trying to figure out I think
I may have a way to work around that but I haven’t totally decided
how that’s going to work so that would probably be
the sixth book in the series. I’ve already actually written the
fourth book, which is calledTorn. The fifth book I’m working on
now, which is calledCotI think and that would be the sixth book and the seventh book
will be the final one. But I still got a little bit of time
before I have to make that decision.>>I’m thirteen and I
love reading your books. When you were my age what
stuff did you like to read?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: I pretty much read anything
I could get my hands on when I was thirteen
including cereal boxes if there wasn’t anything
else available. Oh really that’s in there! Who knew? So I enjoyed reading a lot
of older books because they belonged to my Mother or my Grandmother
things likeLittle WomenandAnneand Green Gablesone
of my favorite books was fromThe Mixed-up Files of
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg, which I
think must be a favorite book of many people but I probably read
that book about eight or nine times because I just loved it so much.>>What’s your favorite
book that you’ve written?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: What is
my favorite book that I’ve written? I actually do not have a
favorite book out of the ones that I’ve written because its kind
of like trying to pick a favorite between my kids and I couldn’t do
that and its kind of the same way with the books that I
feel like if I picked one of the books then the other books
would get their feelings hurt. [ Laughter ]>>So I heard you just said
that you’re doing seven books. How do you decide to stop? Instead of like the 36 missing
children you’re stopping at seven.>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
You know I have had a lot of people ask me since I do
mention that there were 36 babies on this plane why aren’t I doing
36 books because that makes sense. And I’m thinking at a certain point
it would get very difficult to write that many books so I defiantly
know that I want to stop before 36 and I would much rather stop
when people are still saying, “Wow we love this series,”
instead of, “Oh no, not another one of those books”. So I kind of arbitrarily settled
on seven and I’m trying to figure out the best way to work it so you
get information about all 36 kids. I did inSabotageit tells the
story of three of the missing kids so I kind of worked it that way. I don’t think I’m going to manage
you know I needed a quick math here to figure out if I got three more
books left and I’ve still got like thirty some people left. That’s ten kids per book, I’m not
going to succeed in doing that but I’m going to kind of throw in
some information at a certain point so you do get to know
what happens to all 36.>>Is there any advice you
would give a kid who wants to be an author when she grows up?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: There
is advice that I would give somebody who wants to be an
author when she grows up. I would say two things that seem
very obvious but its surprising to me how many adults don’t
know to follow this advice. I would say read all that
you can because the more that you read the more
comfortable you are with words the better you
are with dealing with them. Its fun too so it’s
kind of a painless way to get better as a writer. I would say start writing now and
write all sorts of different things. I actually wrote a lot more poetry
when I was a kid than anything else but I think that helped me
playing around with words and gave me a lot of experience. Keeping a journal is a
wonderful thing to do because that gives you a lot
of practice with taking things from real life and getting
it down in the words and you’d be surprised even if you think your life is really
boring now I can pretty much guarantee that you know in ten
or twenty years if you go back and reread a journal that you
kept as a kid you’d be like, wow, I’m so glad I wrote this
and I still have this to know what my childhood was like. So that’s a very good thing. In general I would also just say
pay attention to things around you and think because thinking is
pretty essential to writing.>>I can’t believe
you’re giving me advice. Thank you.>>What books and TV shows and
movies inspire you to write?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
Any time I read something that is really, really,
really good it inspires me to write even though I
think okay there’s no way that what I’m writing is going to be
that good but there’s a great idea out there that makes me want
to be more inventive myself.>>I was wondering
if you were planning on starting any more series.>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
Right now I’m kind of focused on finishing this series and I have
to admit this is the second series that I’ve done that’s all mine. I also didThe 39 Cluebook that
I just did one of the ten books. And I really had a hard time
in-between the two series coming up with the idea for this one that I was thinking well maybe I’m
just a one series person I’m not a two series person. So I’m really not trying not to put
that pressure on me to try and think about what that third
ones going to be yet.>>I read allThe 39 Clues
books and I just love them. Are there going to be any more, was
book ten the last one or is there?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
That is a excellent question and if you would ask me that
before Wednesday I would have had to be very mysterious and kind
of hem and hawed and pretend like I didn’t really know the answer because on Thursday it was just
announced that they are going to another series that’s related
toThe 39 Clues serieswith Amy and Dan still as the heros. But its going to be called
The Cahill’s vs. The Vesper’s
and it will be six
books in that series. So it’s not like the continuation
ofThe 39 Clues seriesbut it is defiantly another way to
find more about what’s happening to Dan and Amy and
the other Cahill’s.>>Where I live there’s something
called Battle of the Books, it’s where they pick the best
books that are more interesting to children and they use
them to battle the questions. And the book that they choose
by you wasAmong the Hidden. What do you think was the best fact
in that that made them choose that?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch
the last part of that question.>>What do you think was the
best fact inAmong the Hiddenthat would make them choose that?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
What do I think is the reason that they chooseAmong
the Hidden
for that? I think one of the things that
I have heard from lots of kids over the years about what makes
Among the Hidden
popular is that it is something that
appeals to both boys and girls. And a lot of times I know
schools have trouble finding books that both boys and
girls will like so that was probably something
that helped it.>>Thank you.>>What was your inspiration
forUprising?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
Uprising
was the first book that I had ever written where
I was not the person who came up with the original
idea for the book. It was actually suggested
to me by my editor that he thought there should
be a young adult in that novel about the triangle shirtwaist
factory fire in the early 1900’s in New York City, which
was a very tragic event where 146 people were killed,
mainly teenage girls who worked in this factory where they generally
would lock the doors as soon as the workers got
there in the morning. So when a fire broke
out a lot of them died. And it was an important event in
history that made a change in a lot of laws that deal with how
employers can treat employees. It was a very important event
but obviously also very tragic and my editor had suggested that
I might want to something about it because he thought
it was so important. The kind of funny thing is by the time I actually wrote the
book another author had written a novel about it as well for young
adults calledAshes of Rosesby Mary Jean Ash and I have heard
that that’s a very good book but I had gotten so deep
into the research for this that I think maybe ten
years or so I might be ready to read something else about
it that somebody else has done but I think I need a break
for awhile before that.>>What gave you the idea
forThe Palace of Mirrors?>>Margaret Peterson
Haddix: What gave me the idea forThe Palace of Mirrors? Let me double check something. How much time do I have left? Are we down to five minutes? I’ve got time okay. It’s a long story so that’s
why I have to check that. The inspiration forThe Palaceof Mirrorsactually dates
all the way back to when I was in high school and I grew up
in a very rural area of Ohio and the big deal every summer where
I grew up was the county fair. So I was very proud my senior
year in high school because I got to be one of the county
fair Queen attendants, which meant that every day for
that week I got to wear a tiara and a sash and a frilly dress and
high-heeled shoes and then walk through hog manure to give kids
ribbons for their prized hogs or cows or chickens or whatever
they brought to the fair. And now that I’m an adult
thinking about that, I think, why did I wear open
toed high healed shoes? Eww, that was gross. But at the time it
was just a fun week. The week ended, I packed stuff away,
went off to college very shortly after that and really stopped
thinking of myself as the type of person who would ever
wear a tiara and a sash. So then years after that
when my daughter was in kindergarten she came home
from school one day and announced that she was going to be a
fairy princess for Halloween. And so I was thinking how we’d
carry this costume off and I thought that tiara that I wore
as a county fair Queen that would be perfect
for her costume. And my next thought was I have
no idea what ever happened to that tiara and this
sentence just jumped into my mind and the sentence was. Somewhere in the world I
have a tiara in a little box and I’d really like that sentence. I wrote it down in this
writer’s journal that I keep and periodically I would look
at that sentence and think that would be a really good
first sentence for a book. I just have no idea what the other
sentences in the book would be. And eventually I figured out that
the book needed to have nothing to do with county fairs but
needed to be about a girl who was the true royalty of
her kingdom but was not allowed to tell anyone because
her life was in danger, which as you know is what
happens inPalace of Mirrors.>>I readFound and Sent
and I haven’t readSabotageso I’m not sure if it’s in
that book but I was wondering if you had written it inSabotageor if you had already decided
what Jonahs identity was?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix:
That is a very good question and that’s a question
that I get asked a lot. What is Jonahs identity? I do not reveal it inSabptage
and at the moment my plan is not to reveal it until the seventh book.>>Okay.>>How did you decide not to use
— like to use babies on the plane and not like children or something?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: Well
the question is, how did I decide to use babies on a plane, instead
of just leaving it as children. As I thought about it unless I
wanted to write about a whole group of children who suddenly got
amnesia all at the same time, which would be a little
bit difficult to explain, I had to figure out someway to explain why they didn’t
remember where they came from. And baby’s very fortunately for me
don’t remember where they came from. So that was part of my rational and actually I think its more
mysterious that it’s babies. >>Why did you do some of the
different things that you did inThe final 39 Cluesbook?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: Was
the question why did I do some of the things that I did
inThe 39 Cluesbook. Well it’s kind of a mix of some of
the things I was told I needed to do because the series needed to be
consistent with the things earlier that I was told that it needed to take place part of
the time in England. I was told that I needed
to work William Shakespeare in as the historical figure and
there were a couple other things that I was told that I needed to
do and other than that it was kind of what I wanted to imagine and
how I could work things out. And I kind of played
off the idea of things that I thought would be interesting
to throw in there in England and things that I thought would
be interesting to throw in there from William Shakespeare’s life. And one of the things
that I thought was fun when I was doing the research about
William Shakespeare getting ready to write this book was that I discovered even though
William Shakespeare’s pretty much, that everybody almost
entirely agrees that he’s the greatest
writer who’s ever lived. But evidently he really could not
spell and they have six signatures that he has done that they are
pretty sure he was really the person who wrote them, none of them are
spelled exactly the same way. So it’s pretty funny that you know
here’s the greatest writer ever and he couldn’t spell. Now, in his defense, during his
time period there was no such thing as standardized spelling. You know pretty much everybody
just spelled things however they felt like. So for you kids that
meant no spelling test in William Shakespeare’s time, which
would have been really nice I’m sure but it also meant that
it was very confusing when people tried to read things. So I thought that was a fun
[inaudible] so I put that in there. There were lots of
other things like that as I was doing the research I
discovered that I wanted to put in.>>Where did you get your
idea forJust Ella?>>Margaret Peterson Haddix: Where
did I get my idea forJust Ella? Well that dates back to when
my daughter was really little and she’s a senior in high school
now so this was many years ago and she was obsessed with
fairy tales when she was about two, three, four years old. And so she could sit there for hours
having me read fairly tales to her, which I was very proud that
she had such an attention span and I was glad that
she loved books already but reading those fairy tales to
her they started really bugging me. It really bugged me that it seemed like in every single
fairy tale I read to her at some point there could be a
sentence that was something like and then the prince took one
look at her and fell in love because she was so beautiful. And I felt like saying
to my daughter okay honey if this strange guy that you’ve
never met before comes up to you and gets down on bended knee
and says, “Will you marry me”? Do not say yes right away. If he seems like he might be a
decent guy, maybe you can say maybe but this whole love at first sight
idea was a little bit scarey. So writingJust Ellawas kind
of my way of dealing with that and because I couldn’t say all that
to my daughter when she was only two or three years old so I
wrote the book instead. Okay I think were done then. I’m being told by the
time keeper here. So thank you very much
for your great questions.>>Thanks for coming up though. So close, so close. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of The Library of Congress. Visit us at LOC.gov [HC1]No
space betweenand the wordor the last word andsuch as
Running Out of Time
Page 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *