Wendy Mass: -It really goes back to reading under the covers with a flashlight since I was eight. I just loved reading so much, and eventually I wanted to write my own stories. Now my four-year-old reads in the middle of the night with her flashlight and neither my husband (a high school English teacher) nor I can stand to ask her to stop reading and go to sleep. I’m a very proud mommy!
B. Diva: My mom is a writer, so I know sometimes the first book you write doesn’t make it to publication. What was the first novel you ever wrote and was it ever published?
W. Mass: --My first novel was called OPEN WINDOWS, about a Jewish girl who went to a Catholic middle school. It never got published, but I’ve pulled characters and scenes from it over the years for different books. I may use the title again one day for a future book, too. I’ve learned to keep all my past writing, because you never know when an old idea will spark a new one.
B. D.: In your books you have a variety of topics, how do you get your book ideas?
W. M.: I try to find subjects that I’m really interested in and then I hope that other people would be, too. In between books I try to keep my eyes open for something that sparks an idea, something that’s fresh and a little bit different. All it took to inspire the Candymakers was the opening of a new candy store in my town. Wandering through it one day made me think about setting a story in a candy store, and it morphed into a candy factory. A future book was inspired by a quote by astronomer Carl Sagan that a student at a school visit thought I would like.
B. D.: Sometimes when ideas for a novel come to you, you think that it’s a great idea! But then once you get into it you realize it’s not the best idea after all. Have you ever started to write a book then decided it wasn’t a good idea?
W. M.: Not really. By the time I’ve committed myself to the book it’s because I’ve already given it a lot of thought. I’ve done a lot of rewriting on some of them, and others require very little.
B. D.: Out of your published novels, which was the most fun to write?
W. M.: Leap Day and 11 Birthdays. Leap Day is for teens, and I don’t get to hear about it very much from readers, so whenever I do it makes me really happy. I loved writing that book and playing around with a sort of untraditional format for a novel. 11 Birthdays was fun because it was my first time sprinkling a little bit of fantasy into a book.
B. D.: Sometimes wherever a writer grew up is an important inspiration because you can place your characters in that setting that you know a lot about. Where did you grow up and have you ever used it in any of your novels?
W. M.: I grew up in a New Jersey suburb. I use some random details about the town, but mostly I try to set the books in imaginary towns, often more rural than the one I grew up in. It was fun setting Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life in New York City, since it was such a different experience than my own childhood.
B. D.: I was reading at a very young age and by the time I realized libraries had more things that I could consume, my love for books exploded. Were you interested in reading and/or writing when you were growing up?
W. M.: My mom likes to tell people I had read every book in the children’s room of my library by the time I was twelve. I’m sure that’s not true, especially because I’d get stuck reading the same book over and over. I’d finish the last page and then turn back to the first. If only I had that luxury today. My two childhood jobs were at the library shelving books (mostly hiding in the stacks and reading), and working at a bookstore at the mall (okay, mostly hiding and reading there, too.)
As for writing, I always loved writing stories. It look longer for me to enjoy doing research papers or reports for school. Now I know the secret is to pick a topic you’re interested in, and then it’s like going on a treasure hunt for ideas. I think that’s why I put so much factual stuff in my books, because research might even be more fun than writing.
B. D.: What was your favorite subject in school?
W. M.: -Science. My sister is a chemist and my brother-in-law and father-in-law are physicists, so I’m surrounded by really smart people who can explain things to me by speaking very slowly and using very small words! When learning a new topic (like astronomy for Every Soul a Star), I start my research in the children’s room at the library with the most basic picture book. So once I’ve learned how a solar eclipse works in the simplest terms possible, then I’ll move onto the next level.
Thank you Wendy for answering my questions! If you haven't yet, check out her books:
Every Soul A Star
The Candy Makers
and more! Check out all her books on Amazon.
Also: Don't miss out!
Book giveaway, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, makes a great gift!
ENDS NOVEMBER 18TH!
If you have any questions, want to send me a book, want me to host a giveaway, want to be interviewed or have suggestions for books I should read, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org