Picking the Brain of the Brilliant Blume

This week I’m doing a series that re-caps the insights of the amazing JUDY BLUME who was a surprise guest at the 40th anniversary SCBWI Conference this summer! The following notes were taken during a Q & A session with SCBWI president Lin Oliver:

What are the changes in contacting your audience today than in the past?

  • Judy Blume says she’s addicted to Twitter.
  • She gets letters electronically now rather than snail mail.
  • The intimacy is in the pencil (snail mail). She misses that. Kids really bear their soul to you when they write a real letter.
  • The electronics change but deep down people don’t change.

Why Do You Write For Kids? Why Write at All?

  • “Who do you identify with in life? I identify with kids. Though that doesn’t make you the best mother.”
  • Blume was sick all through her 20’s, and after she started to write all that sickness went away.
  • She says it’s determination as much as any kind of talent that is going to get you there.

What Advice Do You Have for Writers?

  • “I don’t like to give advice to writers.”

How is it that You Can Write Dialog So Well?

  • “Dialog is the only thing I like to write. I don’t like the other stuff. I’m not good at descriptive writing or metaphor. I like what the character’s are thinking versus what they’re saying. The subtext of it. It’s what makes it muscular.”
  • “Dialog comes naturally and spontaneously to me.”

How Do You Make Your Books Timeless?

  • “I never think about the timelessness.”
  • It’s not a good idea to put in a way kids talk today, per say (slang etc.). Not if you want to write fiction that lasts.

Why Did You Write “Forever”?

  • My daughter said to me “Can’t there be a book where two nice kids do it and nobody dies?”
  • That was her inspiration, though she would never advise anyone else to write a book based on something their kid said to them.
  • In regard to edgy material – if it’s there it should be important to the character or the story. If it’s not then take it out. Don’t listen to the censor when you are writing.

Other Tid Bits:

  • “I get bored easily, so I could never write a series.”
  • Writing not only changed my life, it saved my life!

Judy Blume is one of the most widely read authors of juvenile and teen fiction. Her many books include: Tiger Eyes, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, Blubber, Forever, The Fudge Series, and Just as Long as We’re Together. Her novels have exceeded sales of 80 million and have been translated into 31 languages.

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