We met author Rebecca Stead at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan recently. We think she is a terrific storyteller. We loved her book “When You Reach Me,” and we are not alone! She just won the 2010 John Newbery Medal for outstanding children’s literature.
Rebecca told us she really started to like writing when she was in fifth grade, and she loved doing it as a kid. She wrote a lot of stories that were short. She said, “It’s really fun to start a story, but it’s really hard to get to the end, and sometimes it’s really hard to get through the middle.”
We asked her if she thought her books should be turned into movies. Rebecca said, “As of now, neither of my books is in any kind of movie process. I tell you my fantasy for my first book. My complete fantasy for the first book, ‘First Light,’ is that it would turn into an animated movie.”
She did tell us that she had a movie deal on her latest book, “When You Reach Me,” for about “21/2 weeks.”
We wanted to know who her favorite authors were when she was a kid. Rebecca said, “I loved Judy Blume. She wrote about kids in different family situations, and they lived in the New York City, and nothing too scary happened, and it was terrific. I also loved Louise Fitzhugh, who wrote ‘Harriet the Spy.’ Her stories to me were very real and full of real emotion and not sort of sweetened up, and they felt genuine to me. And I loved that. I love connecting with a story that feels real.” She also told us she liked Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote “Red Planet.”
Of course, we wanted to know if she was working on anything new right now. She told us she doesn’t really like sequels, so we won’t be reading a sequel to “When You Reach Me.” She did tell us that her next novel is for the same age group as her previous two books. She added, “It’s hard to describe right now because I’m right in the middle of writing it, and I find it so hard to talk about a book when I’m right in the middle of writing it. It’s a story about a friendship between two boys where things are not as they seem to be. I’ll leave it right there. It’s a kind of mystery but in a completely different way from ‘When You Reach Me.’ It’s still kind of unraveling itself in my head. I hope then in six months that description still applies, but I think it will.”