News

Old pro to young writers: just keep at it

New York Times best-selling author Tamora Pierce regaled an audience of 200-plus people at the CK High School auditorium on Saturday night.  As part of the “Kitsap Reads” program of the Kitsap Regional Library, Pierce told the mostly young teenage girl audience of the rigors and rewards of writing. - Photo by Kelly Everett
New York Times best-selling author Tamora Pierce regaled an audience of 200-plus people at the CK High School auditorium on Saturday night. As part of the “Kitsap Reads” program of the Kitsap Regional Library, Pierce told the mostly young teenage girl audience of the rigors and rewards of writing.
— image credit: Photo by Kelly Everett

Author Tamora Pierce walked on stage; regally swathed in a huge scarf; her head held high.

“I’m going to tell you,” she said to the 200-plus youngsters in the audience, mostly early teenage girls, “of the magic of writing.”

Then she took off the scarf and threw it and her regal manner over her shoulder — waiting for her words to sink in.

“I could see the horror on your faces as you thought to yourself, ‘We’re going to be listening to this for an hour?’” she said. She told the audience she was not a melodramatic, self-absorbed author.

“But I’m also not a nice person,” she added, “so watch out.”

Pierce’s appearance was part of the “Kitsap Reads” project of the Kitsap Regional Library. An early book of hers “Alanna: The First Adventure” made the 1983 New York Times best seller list published by Random House. Pierce writes fantasy books for teenagers. Her books, known for their teenaged girl warriors, have received critical acclaim.

She quickly had everyone laughing. CKHS staffers not planning on attending, ended up standing in the back of the small CK High School auditorium at the 7 p.m. event Saturday night.

Pierce was raised in rural Pennsylvania, the child of a “long, proud line of hillbillies,” she said.

“Let me tell you how this works,” she said. “You’ll ask the questions, and I’ll answer. You can even ask questions about my ‘spouse creature,’ who’s been helping me in the writing business 25 years.” She was referring to her husband.

How did you get started?

“When I started out (writing) in middle school, I would have killed for five minutes with a real writer, who could’ve answered questions I spent years figuring out myself,” she said.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

“Don’t hate me too much for this. But believe it or not — modern baby-naming books,” she said. “The new ones are the best — there’s such a variety of spellings. I even found a Web site with, get this, 682,000 baby names. It was a thing of beauty.”

You had a seven-year writer’s block. How’d you get through it?

“I’ve got a number of techniques you can try for that,” Pierce said. “Introduce new characters, try telling the story from a different point of view, switch from first-person to third-person storytelling, try it as a play, or poem, have something happen, like a tornado. Put it aside for a month or so. Keep what you wrote in the past so you can look back and see how bad you were.”

How come you write about girls and not boys?

“Well, there were not many girl (heroes) in books when I was young,” she said. “My Dad had three daughters, so I was the oldest boy. I grew up reading boy adventure books and anything by Mark Twain. It’s still about eight boy heroes to two girl heroes. So long as there aren’t many girl heroes out there, I’m going to keep writing about girls. Boys won’t read books about girls, but girls will read anything.”

How do you feel about someone editing your books?

“My first editor was Jean Carl. In those days, her name was enough to sell a book” to publishers. “Remember, the editors are there to help you. If you don’t look good, they don’t look good. Several failed books from an editor and they’re out of a job. Editors keep me from doing ‘goofy stuff’ in my books.” Her latest novel is “Trickster’s Choice.”

Are any of your characters based on you?

“Hmmm ... short, round, bespectacled book worm,” she said. “No, I don’t think so.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 17 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates