When I was a kid, I played alone most of the time.
Yes, this is VERY- VERY sad.
My siblings are way older than I am. We lived out in the country. There was a lot of woods and a lot of swamp. My parents worked. So after school I would be all alone.
This meant that most of the time:
1. I read library books
2. I wrote stories when I ran out of library books.
3. I looked for Bigfoot when I got writer’s cramp.
I looked for Bigfoot a lot actually.
This book cover is pretty much what I wanted to happen. I wanted Bigfoot to come and steal me away and I would save him from evil scientists who wanted to kill him. We’d take care of each other and potentially fall in love.
It was a lot like the Disney plot of Harry and the Hendersons...
Only in my version there was no John Lithgow and the Bigfoot was a lot – um – sexier? Yes, it is possible for Bigfoot to be sexy. DO NOT DOUBT!
So, thinking about this today made me feel kind of lonely. I just read about some other authors who had these great memories of playing with people and siblings. My memories of play are these solo made-up stories of me searching for Bigfoot or sitting alone on a rock by the highway writing Star Trek fan fiction for my brother in a little college-lined notebook.
And occasionally I would hang out at Debbie Muir or Kathy Albertson’s house where their moms would feed me things.
Is it no wonder I lost when I ran for office?
So, it’s funny too, when I was thinking about this. It made me realize that my stories all have this large theme running through them about saving people and being heroic and standing it up for what you believe in. I think this whole theme started up with the whole me saving Bigfoot theme in my early play. Weird. I think I’ve grown up so much and then I’m all like DUDE. I AM STILL WRITING ABOUT HAIRY, HOT GUYS W
Yes, that is a spoiler about pretty much every single fiction book I ever write, ever. Sh. Don’t tell.
When you write books, the things you care about, the things that make you the person you are? They come through. Sometimes it’s a conscious choice. Sometimes it isn’t. A woman once asked me in an angry way, “Why are all your books about strong girls having horrible things happen to them?”
She was trying to get me to not visit her school.
And I was like, “Because horrible things do happen to strong girls.”
But the real truth is that I write books about friendship, about girls saving themselves and the ones they love, and often the world because I needed stories like that when I was a kid. I write those stories because I don’t know how to not let my own inner self leak onto the page. I write those stories because kids need to be lifted up not pushed down, to be told to shut up, to be silenced, because they some adults don’t like what they are saying.
I write those books because teens matter. I write those books because girls and women matter. I write those books because people have to have the courage to save themselves over and over again in one lifetime.
Do Good Wednesday
According to a story on NBC news, suicide rates are spiking in Puerto Rico right now. The relief effort is still happening. A simple thing you can do to help (and get something in return) is buy the salsa remix of Almost Like Praying. This effort is organized by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a bunch of amazing musicians. Your proceeds go directly to help Puerto Rico.
Note: I made that link super large to try to convince you to do it.
Random Marketing and Book Things
My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy, is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it.
Kirkus Review says: Jones gives readers the sketchy details of Berg’s life and exploits in carefully selected anecdotes, employing accessible, straightforward syntax.
And also says: A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.
Booklist says it’s: An appealing picture-book biography. . . Written in concise sentences, the narrative moves along at a steady pace.
This is lovely of them to say.
I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.
And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is still real. I’m still terrified.
There are new podcasts every Tuesday and our handle on the tech gets better as you go along. I promise.
We talk about love, marriage, living in Maine with dogs and also give writing and life tips with linked content back on the blog.
Yesterday’s podcast was about how I can’t have a donkey farm or be Bono, but it’s also about character and blocking and how dogs are smarter than people.