Monday, February 7, 2011

Special Guest Today!

Last year, an old friend convinced me to take part in the Sydney Taylor Book Award tour. I enjoyed it so much, I asked to be a part of it again this year!

This year, Linda Glaser received the award in the Young Reader's Category for Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty. (As an aside, my kids really enjoyed it!)

EL: Linda, I was surprised to read that you struggled as a young reader. How does your struggles as a young reader inform your writing for young readers?

LG: Yes. I did struggle with reading when I was a kid. In fact, I thought I'd never learn how. That may be why I use a clear simple style when I write for children. I was the type of reader who needed that. And now, I want my books to be accessible to all children--including those who find reading difficult. When I do school visits I always let kids know that I struggled to read. I figure there are probably some kids listening who are heartened to hear that I know what they are going through and that there is hope.

EL: As a writer, it's fair to say that your subject matter somehow chooses you, rather than the other way around. How and where did you get your start as a 'professional' writer? (in this case, 'professional' means actually getting paid for what you produce--I believe anyone who writes as a mean to communicate can call themselves a writer!)

LG: I agree that anyone who writes is a writer. I've always felt a passion for writing. Even as a child, as soon as I learned to read, I used those same skills to write. I entertained myself with pencil and blank pad for hours on end. The very first time I was "paid" as a writer was when I entered a poetry contest in my late 20's. Before that I was a closet writer. So it was a huge leap to submit a poem to a contest. I was stunned that my poem won second place. I received a check in the mail for $7. It was absolutely thrilling. I'm pleased to report that since then, I've received larger checks for my writing. However, none have made me any happier than that one.

EL: What particular ideas set the writing process in motion for you?

LG: In college, I took a creative writing class taught by a teacher who only encouraged a few "stars" in the group. I wasn't one of them. By the time the class ended, I was embarrassed that I'd ever thought I could be a writer. However, I still loved to write and couldn't stop myself. So I became a closet writer for many years. Fortunately, I finally found a safe writing class. The teacher only allowed the class to offer positive feedback on the first draft. What a freeing feeling that was! That's when I first began to blossom as a writer. I think that's what still "sets the writing process in motion for me"--allowing myself the joy and freedom to write without being critical of it at first.

EL: What inspired you to write about Emma Lazarus? Or, how did she get your attention as a possible subject for a book?

LG: When I was a girl, I visited the Statue of Liberty with my family. Somehow I knew the famous lines "Give my your tired your poor...." And I remember looking up at the statue and feeling the power of those words. They meant a great deal to me since all four of my grandparents were poor immigrants. I was a young Jewish girl who loved to write poems. So I found it particularly inspiring that the person who wrote the statue's poem was a young Jewish woman. Many years later, when my editor for Bridge to America (my middle grade immigrant novel) encouraged me to write something else that I care deeply about, I realized that Emma Lazarus and her poem were there waiting for me.

EL: What challenges do you face as a writer? Meaning: what are those things that stand in your way when you have a particular idea you want to get across?

LG: The biggest challenge I face is to keep writing despite rejections. Yes. It still happens. I do get rejections. And sometimes I feel like giving up. Fortunately, my love for writing always seems to prevail. I'm most grateful for that!

For the full Sydney Taylor Blog Tour, please visit their site


Phyllis Sommer said...

great interview!

Barbara Bietz said...


Thanks for this terrific and inspiring interview with Linda.

Barbara B

Barbara Bietz said...

Thanks Phyllis and Evelyn! Terrific interview.

Barbara B

Evelyn Krieger said...

In addition to writing, I work as a reading specialist with dyslexic kids. So many of them are bright and creative, but don't think they could ever write a book. I think it's wonderful that you help dispel this notion.

Barbara Krasner said...

Linda, as you know from our e-mail exchanges, I, too am a big fan of Emma. I love that you've now made her and the poem accessible to young readers. Congratulations on the accomplishment and thanks to Elizabeth for participating in the blog tour.

shelf-employed said...

I did not get a chance to review this book last year, but it was one of my favorite books of the year. Congratulations to Linda Glaser! I enjoyed your interview. Thanks.

Enid said...

What a wonderful book and what a wonderful interview. Thank you both!