Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsThe inspiration for a story can come from almost anywhere. I learned this first-hand a few years ago when I was inspired by some evocative old snapshots I found at a flea market. I wanted to know more about the people in them, but the photos were anonymous—long-disconnected from whomever had taken and discarded them—so instead I created their stories myself. The result was my first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenIt’s enjoyed some remarkable success, especially for a book from a debut novelist—there’s even a movie in the works! None of which would be happening if I hadn’t let a handful of musty pictures tell me a story. Stories are everywhere; it’s just a matter of tuning our ears to listen for them.

Given the way Miss Peregrine is told, with the photos I found woven through the narrative, it’s proven to be a fascinating conversation-starter for students and teachers of creative writing. Students can easily find photos of their own to use as writing prompts, either on the Internet or, better yet, in the attics and closets of parents and grandparents. (I discovered that it’s nearly impossible to write about old photographs without becoming interested in their history. There’s something fascinating about the immediacy of a photograph, no matter how old it is; though a picture might have been taken a hundred years ago, it is always, in some sense, now.) (more…)

Advertisements

The Kids Are All Right by the Welch siblings

by Diana Welch and Liz Welch, co-authors with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch of The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir

Like many siblings, we disagree about a lot of things. We can’t remember who came up with the title The Kids Are All Right, but we do know that each of us had a completely different take on its meaning. Liz took it literally: All four of us turned out remarkably well, despite losing our parents when we were so young. Our father died in a car accident in 1982, and our mother succumbed to cancer in 1985. When we became orphans, our eldest sister Amanda was nineteen; Liz was sixteen; our brother Dan was fourteen; and Diana had just turned eight. Since no local family would take all of us in, we were separated, each sent to live in a different place. Our book, The Kids Are All Right, tells (in four different voices) how being separated was the most painful part of dealing with the loss of our parents. It also tells the story of how, after five years living apart, we found one another and became a family again. (more…)

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief, recently spoke with a group of students at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia. The students later emailed her book trailers that they’d made for her novel as part of a class project.

We were pretty impressed by them (and wished we were given a fun assignment like this back when we were in school!) Check the trailers out on her blog.

Haven’t read the book yet? Email us and we’ll send a complimentary copy to the first TEN people who respond.