Laurie Halse Anderson Interview

Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of numerous young adult novels including Speak, Wintergirls, Fever 1793, Chains, Twisted and The Impossible Knife of Memory. She has received the ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Golden Kite Award and the Los Angles Times Book Prize, she was also the runner up for the Michael L. Printz Award and the National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature.

Interview Time!

Me: What are your thoughts on the term "date rape"?

Laurie Halse Anderson: I think it (the term) should be eliminated. Rape is rape; doesn't matter the context. 

If a bad guy steals your wallet at the end of a date, do we call it a "date mugging?" Do we allow "date murders" to be treated differently than murders that don't happen after a date?

Of course not.

Me: Your book speak, is constantly on the banned books lists at schools, what (if you could) would you say to those parents that are pushing for Speak to be banned?

LHA:  I would ask them why they are afraid to talk to their kids about sexual violence. 

Every two minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted. About 17% of American women and 3% American men have been sexually assaulted. 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. And juvenile victims know their assailant in 93% of cases.

Parents must face up to their responsibilities to prepare their children about the dangers of the world. They must get over their own squeamishness about discussing human sexuality in order to do so. If more boys were taught by their parents what sexual consent is, and that it is required - ALWAYS - we'd have less sexual violence.

If girls and women felt safer to speak up after a sexual assault, and the judicial system was prepared to consistently prosecute and punish rapists, then we'd begin to see those horrible numbers go down. (Lots more very good Statistics can be found here:

Some parents cringe at the idea of talking to their kids about these things. I have no patience for that. Who they want to be educating (and miseducating their kids about these things? Music videos? Internet porn? Locker room BS? 

It's hard to be a parent. It's a whole lot harder to be the parent of a kid who has been sexually assaulted, or who is in jail after being found guilty of sexual assault. SPEAK opens the doors to some of the most important conversations a family will ever have.

Me: What was your experience while attempting to get Speak published?

LHA: The first publisher I sent it to turned it down. The second one thought it had potential, but requested a revision before they offered me the contract. They liked the revision and thus, became the publisher.

Me: What were your thoughts when you learned that your book was on the banned list?

LHA: The first time I heard that SPEAK was banned I was confused and then horrified because I was told that I was a terrible person to have written such filth. 

Then I got pissed.

Now I welcome censorship attempts because they give me the chance to talk about the importance of talking to teens honestly about sexual violence and learning how to speak up when something bad happens. I keep speaking up, as loudly as I can!

Me: What’s the best thing about being a writer?

LHA: I love working alone. While I also enjoy traveling and meeting people, I'm more introverted than extroverted. Working alone (in the company of several hundred fictional characters, of course) is heavenly.

I also LOVE the feeling of being so submerged in writing that I lose track of time. Social scientists call this state of being "flow." Here's a great article about it:

Me: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

LHA: Don't quit!!

It takes a lot longer to break into publishing, and then longer still to be able to make a living at writing, than most Creative Writing programs want to admit. Not quitting is Rule One. 

Rule Two is to spend a LOT of time reading.

Rule Three is to surround yourself with kindred spirits who are also following their creative dreams.

I hope that you all enjoyed my interview, it was great and I am so grateful to Laurie for finding the wedge of time to answer my questions! Thank you all for reading, please go and Follow her on Twitter @halseanderson and please go to her website Also +1 this post!
Go check out her books here!


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