Lynne Rae Perkins
1.How did you come to the story, All Alone in the Universe?
When our children were very small, I took them for a playdate at the home of a friend with her own very small (under 5 years old) children. The house was also very small, and the floor was deep with toys from wall to wall. Soon, all four kids were racing around shrieking. Maureen and I sat in the epicenter – I think there must have been a couch. We must have cleared off two spaces to sit on while we tried to talk over the chaos. I could feel a headache coming on, and I was about to suggest something, I don’t know what, something more calm or organized maybe, when Maureen turned to me and said, “Isn’t this great?”
And she meant it. She was thoroughly enjoying the whole scene. And somehow, she flicked a switch in me so that I started to enjoy it, too.
There was something about the way she did this that reminded me of a friend of mine from long ago, when I was 11, 12, 13. (And 14, 15, 16, 17.)
I adored my friend, but while she liked me well enough, it wasn’t an equal friendship. Still, I hung on to it for dear life for such a long, long time. There were some great moments.
Looking back, I wished I had found it in myself to move on earlier. What if it had only taken me a year to figure it out, instead of all the way through high school?
I started to imagine it and write about it. As I was writing, I thought I was telling a story that was unique to me. I suppose there is such a thing, but I have been surprised since by how many people tell me that they have had a similar experience. I think most of our stories have both the unique and the universal.
2. What makes your main character a strong girl?
Debbie is strong. She is strong because she finds her way through a painful experience without becoming bitter. Okay, she has some snarky thoughts about Glenna, but she has compassion for her, too. And she doesn’t let her sadness defeat her, or keep her from finding new friendships.
3. Finish this sentence: Strong girls __________.
Strong girls care.
There is a quote on my bulletin board from the poet Kenneth Patchen:
Caring is the only daring,
Oh, you know it.
4. What are you working on next?
I just finished a middle-grade novel, Nuts to You! It will be out in August. It is in the time-honored rodent-adventure novel genre, this time with squirrels. Including two very strong female squirrels.
And now I am working on illustrating a picture book.
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