Jerry Spinelli is the author of twenty-one middle grade/young adult novels, including the Newbery Award winner, MANIAC MAGEE and Newbery Honor book, WRINGER. His writing career began when a poem he wrote after a high school football game was published in the local newspaper. Twenty-five years and four unpublished adult novels later, Jerry Spinelli found book publication success with a middle grade novel called SPACE STATION SEVENTH GRADE, and has been writing wonderful books for young readers ever since. Born and raised in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Spinelli has a B.A. from Gettysburg College and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University. He is married to children's author, Eileen Spinelli and has six children and many grandchildren. To learn more about Jerry Spinelli's childhood, read his fascinating autobiography, KNOTS IN MY YO-YO STRING.
About midway through high school, when my poem about a football game was published in the local paper.
I didn't choose to write for them. My first published book was about a 13-year-old kid, so adult departments wouldn't take it. So I became a "children's writer" by accident. In my own mind, I write for everyone.
A simple answer to that is that "different" characters are more interesting than ordinary ones. They attract our attention and keep it and in the long run have much more to tell us.
Back in 1966 I began jotting down notes about an unusual person. STARGIRL is the final incarnation of many since that time.
If I hadn't been good at sports maybe I would have spent more time in the library. I read quite a variety of books now. At the moment I'm reading a murder mystery and a history of railroad dining cars.
I've found my grade school and junior high years especially fertile fields to harvest.
The idea came from my editor at Scholastic. Of the four stories, I feel particularly attached to "Sonseray," though his kidhood does not resemble my own at all.
What doesn't? At one time or another I've found myself moved by everything from the grandest pageants to the most ordinary gestures.
Routinely, I work two hours each morning. I may or may not write for another hour or so at night.
With six kids and 15 grandkids, there's plenty!
I discovered that even after a day of rejection slips, the sun comes up next morning. And the stories were still in me. How could I not write?
Write what you care about.
You have twenty-one novels published, including the Newbery Award winning MANIAC MAGEE. What can fans expect from you next?
Next will be LOSER (HarperCollins), out in spring 2002.
There are web sites out there by way of publishers, etc., but I don't have one of my own.