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Author Judy Blume Tells Her Own Stories

Avery St. Germain
Conn., U.S.A. – When she was a little girl, author Judy Blume never wrote down
all the stories she thought of as she bounced a ball against a wall at her
was a creative kid,” Blume told an audience of several hundred in Hartford, where
she spoke at a fundraiser for the Mark Twain House.
Blume, who wrote Are You There, God? It’s
Me, Margaret.
, the vastly popular “Fudge” series and many other books for
children, teens and adults, said she was never encouraged to write as a child.
kept those stories to myself,” she said. “What a shame.”
said she loved books from an early age and visited the library with her mother.
first book I ever loved was Madeline,”
said Blume. “I memorized it.”
was so young that she didn’t understand that the library’s copy of Madeline wasn’t the only one in the
hid it from my mother so she wouldn’t take it back,” she said.
up in the 1950s, Blume adored her father, who was outgoing. She said she was
more like her mother – shy, quiet and anxious.
she had a good family, Blume said she felt enormous pressure to be perfect.
was wonderful, but it wasn’t perfect,” she said.
had the same best friend for 62 years – since seventh grade – but they never
spoke of anything serious until adulthood, said Blume.


Author Judy Blume

she grew up, she went to college and studied to become a teacher, but never
took a teaching job. She married and had children, and while they were young,
started writing.
first, Blume thought she might write books that rhyme, like Dr. Seuss. She
enrolled in a night class for “tween” writing at New York University, where she
had her work published.
one can teach you how to write,” she said, but added that she felt she had to
have something ready for class, so it made her write. She also found something
important there – encouragement.
wrote while the kids were at preschool,” she recalled.
went to the library and brought home stacks of books. She read them and sorted
them into piles – those she liked by authors she wanted to emulate, and those
she didn’t.
Cleary was a huge inspiration for me,” said Blume, referring to the author of the
children’s novels featuring the impish Ramona Quimby.
on, Blume said, her “prayers” for her writing career were first, that she would
be published, then that someone would read it, and finally, that she might one
day hear from someone who had read her work.
of that happened with Are You There God?
It’s Me,
Margaret. in 1970, and Blume began to hear from her readers.
would pour their hearts out,” she said. “It’s easier to tell the stranger you
don’t have to face at the breakfast table.”
of them were “very troubled kids,” said Blume, who needed much more help than
she could offer. She said she isn’t a social worker or a therapist, so she consulted
with professionals about how to respond to some of them and even had to
intervene a few times.
first of her books to make it to the big screen is Tiger Eyes, a 2012 film about a girl’s grief after the sudden death
of her father.
said she didn’t realize until later that in Tiger
, she was writing about her own feelings about losing her father at age
21. It was an emotional story for her, she said, and she cried writing it.
the other hand, she said the “Fudge” books – beginning with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – made
her laugh.
like to feel the emotion of it,” she said.
based the Fudge character on her son Lawrence Blume, who is now the film
director and screenwriter for Tiger Eyes,
she said.
eventually took on his own personality, said Blume, who wrote five books about
the beloved little troublemaker. She said she was ready to stop writing about
Fudge, though, and wrapped up the story line in Fudge-a-mania.
then her grandson begged her to write one more, just for him, and she couldn’t
resist. That’s when she wrote Double
of the books have been updated to reflect contemporary life, said Blume. The electronics
that the kids have in the Fudge books, for instance, have been updated.
it’s not just the book characters who are keeping pace with modern life. Blume,
who has a website and Facebook fan page, is active on Twitter, too.
is addictive,” she said.
writing ideas come to her not when she’s sitting at the computer, Blume said,
but when she’s doing something else.
what it takes for me,” she said. “A lot of writing takes place when you’re not
writing. The physical allows the mental.”
urged aspiring young writers to seek out books for inspiration.
read, read, read, read, read,” said Blume. “And then write and don’t worry
about what you’re writing. Keep writing. The more you write, the better it
gets, the more you learn how to do it.
from one writing project to the next, to the next,” Blume said. “and don’t ever
let anybody discourage you.”
Youth Journalism International Reporter
Yelena Samofalova contributed to this story.

See the rest of Youth Journalism International’s five-part package on Judy Blume’s visit to Hartford:
Video: Writing Advice From Judy Blume
Author Judy Blume’s Censorship Began With Her Children’s School Principal

Longtime Judy Blume Fan Meets The Author
Generations Of Readers Love Judy Blume