Ann M. Martin: A Corner of The Universe, and well, Bummer Summer, that was the first book that I ever wrote and published, so that was very important to me. But I would think that the one that really stands out is A Corner of The Universe. That is, probably, because it is the most personal of all of the books that I have written. It was a story that was inspired by the life of my own uncle and I never actually got to know him because he died before my parents even met each other. His death was actually one of the reasons my parents met each other. The story is so personal and I get a lot of response to that from all sorts of people who enjoyed the book, but also experienced similar things as well.
RF: You mentioned the graphic novels earlier. Why did you decide to turn some of the BSC books into graphic novels?
A.M.M: That was actually a suggestion by one of my editors who had been working on the BSC books for quite a while and is still the editor. He launched a graphic novel line at Scholastic. After I read some graphic novels, I became much more interested. An artist came into Scholastic and it turned out she was a huge fan. She was interested, and it just all sort of came together.
RF: So it all worked out?
A.M.M: It all worked out! And she did a really great job.
RF: Do you ever look back at a final published book, and thought that you should have changed something?
A.M.M: Oh, boy, every time I reread something that I have written. I see changes that I would like to make; they are smaller changes usually. I usually go back and line edit my own stuff. Not anything I’d want to change hugely, but anything I read that I wrote I immediately want to re-edit.
RF: Do you miss the classroom? I know you have not been in the classroom for sometime, but do you miss anything about it?
A.M.M: Well, I do. I really enjoyed teaching, and I especially enjoyed reading children’s books with my class. That is, probably, why I basically went into children’s publishing. Yes, I do miss the classroom. I miss daily contact with kids, and I particularly miss seeing kids discover literature that was my favorite part about teaching.
RF: Are any of your characters based on any of your former students?
A.M.M: No. Not off hand, I don’t think so. A lot of character have been based on people [in my life]. Inside Out, which is one of the first books that I wrote, which is told in the point of view of an older brother, whose younger brother is autistic, and that was based on the summers that I spent working as a therapist/teacher at a school for autism. The child in the book was more of a combination of the kids that I knew there.
RF: What charitable organizations do you support?
A.M.M: Okay. I mean I support a lot of them; most of them have to do with animal welfare, classical music, but the ones that I started, one is called The Lisa Libraries. I can give you some information, and I can give you the website. The Lisa Libraries was started in memory of a colleague. It is actually a very simple idea we collect new and unused children’s books from publishers, reviewers, authors, editors, and we have a small warehouse based up here in Kingston New York, and we sort books into categories and then resort them into small libraries that we donate to women shelters, kids who are in foster care systems, prison waiting rooms for children of incarcerated parents-anywhere kids don’t have easy access to books.
RF: Any upcoming projects?
A.M.M: Yep… I’m about to start working on a fourth Doll People book- that’s always fun. And I just finished a first draft for a book that will be out next year called Ten Rules for Living With My Sister, and I guess that’s it for now, and The Babysitter’s Club books are set to reissue. I think we are up to book five.
RF: I’m sorry, so then will they reissue all of them, or just a certain number?
A.M.M: I don’t think they know right now. We have up to five scheduled, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more. Oh! And right now I’m finishing up the tenth Main Street book, which will be the last one in the series.
RF: Do you have any suggestions, or advice for a struggling writer?
A.M.M:For kids I usually suggest first of all simply being an avid reader and becoming familiar with all different forms of writing which is fiction, non-fiction, journalism, poetry. I think the more familiar you are with writing; the more it will help you become a better reader and writer. And also for kids, though this certainly doesn’t hurt for adults either, is simply to keep a journal, and partly because it is good writing practice, and also because it is a great source for story starters.
I think the complaint I hear most from kids is that they don’t know what to write about. Just go back and look at your journals, you’ll probably find a lot of good things to write about.
RF: So looking back at all that you have accomplished, how would you describe your career?
A.M.M: Oh, my goodness! Well, probably, “mostly unexpected.” It was lots of fun and gratifying and rewarding, but the popularity of The Babysitter’s Club was not only surprising to me, but to my editors and publishers as well. I truly would have never expected that. None of them did. That is probably my overarching reaction. I feel extremely lucky.