Written by gbspcamp on Monday, May 13, 2013
Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Thousand Acres , an award-winning short story and nonfiction writer, and is about to publish the fifth book in her series for young readers, The Horses of Oak Valley Ranch . Jane will be coming to Stanford this summer to speak, but we were able to sit down with her and ask a few questions about how she came to be a writer.
GBSP: What role did literature play in your childhood?
I wouldn’t call it literature--I read lots of series books like The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and a series of biographies called The Landmark Series. I read literature in school, sometimes with enjoyment. I loved horse series books like The Black Stallion books, and a series written by a writer names Dorothy Lyons. In 5th grade, our teacher read the Little House books aloud in class, In 7th, 8th, and 9th grades I started really liking some of the books we were assigned, especially Giants in the Earth and David Copperfield. But I always did my homework, and I think that I learned a lot from books that I didn’t enjoy or didn’t understand, like Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar. It’s okay for a work to be mysterious--that can make it more alluring rather than less.
GBSP: Did any one person in your life stand out as fostering a love of writing or literature?
My mother always encouraged me to read--she bought books and didn’t care whether they were respectable or not. She worked at a newspaper, so I often saw her typing up her articles. GBSP: What was your favorite book as a teenager? I loved Giants in the Earth, by Ole Rolvaag and David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
GBSP: Which writers inspired you?
All of them! GBSP: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No, not until I got to college and took a creative writing class. Before that, I wanted to be a jockey!
GBSP: If you could give one piece of advice to young writers, what would it be?
Read read read.