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Episode 17 – Laurie Halse Anderson


Laurie Halse Anderson is a writer known to many of you, but she was unknown to me until I walked into a panel at the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention about censorship and instantly appreciated her frank and blunt manor.

She explained to me on the podcast that “life is short. I don’t believe in hiding the truth.” When I discovered that she is a New Englander at heart, It all made sense.

Laurie is a New York Times–bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition.

Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Laurie was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.”

In 2015, she won the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award.

We chatted about her writing process and the long walks she takes when brainstorming. You’ll find interesting the role technology plays in these walks. I sure did.

Classroom Connection

Laurie talks about how she pushes an idea from the recesses of her imagination onto the page. Write about where you find your best ideas. Does it happen in the shower? When you dream at night? When you go for a walk? Describe the birth of an idea, where and when it happened, and how you recorded it so you wouldn’t forget. 

She shares the story of her second-grade teacher’s role in making her appreciate the power of words, and she lets us know the best book she has read in the last decade.

Even though she was fighting a cold for this interview, we had a great discussion about many different things.

I hope you enjoy the episode.