Laurie Halse Anderson

Author Laurie Halse Anderson describes transitioning her original work into a graphic novel with her book, Speak: The Graphic Novel.

Anderson, Laurie Halse Headshot

“Strong girls give me hope.”

SPEAK THE GRAPHIC NOVEL is a modern adaptation of your original novel, SPEAK, which was published in 1999.  

Were there things you needed to change from the original work to reach a new generation of readers, or did you feel the story had remained fresh?

I added a few references to cell phones and asked Emily Carroll to include computers and other technology in the illustrations. That was pretty much it. Because of Melinda’s trauma and depression, the story was already spare and hard-hitting.

What is it about Melinda that inspires you?  What is it that she brings to your readers?

She reflects the stubborn strength of the thousands of sexual assault survivors I’ve met since Speak was published. Her resilience is an inspiration to everyone, including me.

What was the process of writing a graphic novel like for you?  Did you have experience in this before? What were the challenges of working in this format?

I had so much fun working on this! In some ways it reminded me of picture-book writing; I had to focus on the visual elements and action, and pare back the narrative description. Rewriting a novel into a graphic novel format is a terrific way to work on your storytelling craft.

What is the best piece of advice you were given as a girl? As a writer?

My Aunt Janet once asked me “Are you going to be somebody or are you going to be somebody’s girl?” That really got my attention and made me center my dreams and aspirations in what I wanted, not what I thought the guy I was dating might approve of. Thanks, Aunt Janet!

Tell us about a time when your strength was tested.

I spent my senior year of high school living on a farm in Denmark as part of an exchange program. I had to learn a new language, culture, and learn how to trust my instincts. It was the most important year of my life.

What is your favorite book about a strong girl and why?

Ms. Marvel!!! She’s the best!

What’s your superpower, or what’s your Patronus?  

My superpower is my ability to eat vast quantities of popcorn.

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