I’ve been on the Highlights Foundation mailing list for years and I’ve always been tempted by their Whole Novel Workshops with some of the top names in our business. But last week I had the opportunity to go to Highlights as a guest speaker for Carolyn Yoder’s Alumni Workshop. Carolyn is the editor for Calkins Creek, the American History imprint at Boyd’s Mill. She and I are working on a project and she invited me to speak to her group who are all working on non-fiction or historical fiction. The group was great — fun and engaged — and I enjoyed meeting all of them. And I finally got to taste the Highlights magic!
Archives for August 2013
I just read a fascinating article about Stephen Roxbourgh reminiscing about working with Roald Dahl on The Witches. (My agent I think was the kind of editor that Mr. Roxbourgh is — and he has these amazing stories too!). It’s brilliant and fun and I recommend reading the whole thing. But the most interesting bit to me was when Mr. Roxbourgh suggested that the scene with the women teachers standing on their desks when a mouse was spotted was cliche. Mr. Doald, in his inestimable wisdom, replied:
“This is not a cliché to children, it is a situation they will enjoy. I must keep reminding you that this is a book for children and I don’t give a bugger what grown-ups think about it. This has always been my attitude.”
I am writing a scene right now (historical fiction, set in 1904) where there’s a train car full of small children (57 under the age of 5!). They are being escorted by several nuns and nurses. I wrote it so that the kids have overrun the train by day three and the adults are exhausted. That famous catholic school discipline has slipped. Could it have happened? Yes. Did it? Maybe not. But it makes for a great scene that kids will like. So I kept it (for now!).
And check out Roald Dahl in his writing hut: