Many of you may remember when I featured Michele Weber Hurwitz’s novel The Summer I Saved The World In 65 Days. The story is essentially about a girl who decides to do one good deed a day to see if little things really do make a difference in the big picture. I really enjoyed it and you can find my review here. Today, however, I’m very excited to be hosting the author for an interview at Bookish Serendipity! You can read a little more about the author below:
About The Author
1. ME: I loved The Summer I Saved The World in 65 Days! Can you give us a peek into your writing process and the path to publication?
MWH: I’m so happy you loved the book! I write in a home office that looks out on my backyard, and I use a desktop computer, which I like much better than my temperamental laptop. Seriously, my laptop has deleted sentences when I’ve accidentally hit a key. I’m diligent about writing for several hours every morning, then I usually take a long walk. The walking is essential to my process — I get ideas when I’m moving around outside (and in the shower, for some odd reason). I take a pencil and paper on my walks and scribble dialogue and bits of narration as they pop into my mind.
As for the path to publication, I wanted to write a book that would leave readers feeling hopeful and inspired. We hear so much about doing random acts of kindness, but sometimes the amount of problems in our world overwhelms me, and I wondered — does doing good really do any good? Is it making a difference? Luckily, the editor at Random House who I worked with on my first book loved this one as well and accepted it for publication.
2. ME: Who are your favourite children’s writers? Any particular authors who inspired you to write?
MWH: I read two middle grade novels when I was in a book club with one of my daughters — Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles and So B. It by Sarah Weeks. I fell in love with these books and they inspired me to try to write one of my own. Although I had worked as a journalist, it was different writing a book. In fact, I wrote three manuscripts that were never published! But in 2011, my debut middle grade novel, Calli Be Gold, was published.
My all-time favorite middle grade book is Holes by Louis Sachar. I love everything about that book — the juxtaposition of the two stories and how they intertwine. My favorite YA book is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. The story is so compelling. You’re just rooting for those two characters the whole way through.
3. ME: Do you have any advice for teen/ aspiring writers?
MWH: Read. Believe. Imagine yourself as an author. Practice your autograph. Read some more. Write a lot. Do things in life that give you material to write about. Carry a small journal everywhere. Observe people. Write the book that you want to read.
4. ME: The characters in The Summer I Saved The World In 65 Days are a very unique cast. Do you take inspiration from people and events in real life when writing?
MWH: I do, for sure, but the characters are more a mixture of people I know or have known rather than completely drawn from one person. In the neighborhood where I grew up, near Chicago, there was a woman like the Mrs. Millman character in the book. All the kids were scared of her. She was always peeking out her window, waiting for us to do something wrong.
I also definitely incorporate real life events in my stories. A few years ago, two red foxes ran into my yard. I live in a busy suburban neighborhood so this was pretty unusual. I remember just stopping what I was doing and staring out the window. I was transfixed by their beauty and wildness. The idea for the fox in The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days came from that encounter.
5. ME: Do you remember where your interest in writing originated?
MWH: I’ve been writing since elementary school. I’m the oldest of three and I often babysat for my two brothers when we were kids. They were your basic younger brother nightmares. When my parents went out, I would write notes to them describing my brothers’ bad behavior and honestly, these were my first stories. I got serious, though, in fifth grade and won a writing contest with my masterpiece, The Chair That Knew how to Dance. I’ve been writing ever since.
My path to becoming an author, though, had a lot of twists and turns. It took me about five years to get published. I think the road to anything worthwhile is often not a straight one. I love this quote: “Sometimes losing our way is the best and most beautiful route home.” I definitely lost my way a bit before I found success!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Michele!