The DMS was lucky enough to interview Lisa Graff, author of the middle grade novel The Thing About Georgie. Lizzy recently reviewed this unique book, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, Lisa!
What inspired you to write The Thing About Georgie?
Quite simply, I wanted to write about someone who was different—very different, in an obvious physical way. I wanted to explore the idea of what it might be like to go through life with a difference that you couldn’t hide, whether you wanted to or not: What assumptions people would make about you because of your differences? How would that lead you to think about yourself? When people learn that I’ve written a book about a child with dwarfism, they are often surprised to learn that I am not myself a dwarf (I’m actually very tall!). But I never found it difficult to connect to Georgie as a character, because I think we all have things that make us feel different or isolated, whether or not these are things that other people can see.
How long did it take you to write The Thing About Georgie?
I wrote the first draft of the novel when I was in graduate school (I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children at the New School in Manhattan in 2005), and that probably took me about six months. Then I did a lot of revisions, some on my own and some with the help of my editor, which took me an additional year or so to complete.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
I absolutely adored The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann Martin. I owned about 50 of them, and had each one practically memorized (Team Kristy!). I also loved all Roald Dahl’s books, particularly Matilda and The Twits. Beverly Cleary was another favorite author of mine. In sixth grade I read Emily’s Runaway Imagination for a book report and loved it so much that my essay ended up only slightly shorter than the book itself. We had to read the book reports aloud, and mine went on for so long that finally the teacher had to cut me off six pages before the end, just so everybody could go to recess.
Where did you come up with the characters Georgie and Jeanie the Meanie?
I’m not sure where they came from originally, but I do remember that I had the idea for these two characters before I had any sort of story to fit them into. I liked the idea of two kids, one with the nickname Jeanie the Meanie and the other named George Washington (in the final book, Georgie’s middle name is Washington), who had been given labels that didn’t quite fit them, and who had to find a way to grow beyond that.
If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
This is such a great question! I think I might have to pick Jeanie the Meanie, actually, because despite some less-than-friendly tendencies, she is fiercely loyal, and will always stand up for the people she cares about.
Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have a little green desk in my home office where I do most of my writing. If I’m feeling stir-crazy, though, I’ll head to my local coffee shop and pound out a few pages there, just for a change of scenery.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
I’ll say Scotland—I love the drizzly gray weather, and the lush green landscape. (I can move every single one of my friends and family members to live nearby, right?)
Where can we purchase your books?
They’re easily available online, from Amazon or Powells or your favorite online bookseller. There’s a good list of purchasing links on my website. Or you can always head to your local independent bookstore, where they’ll be able to help you find several other wonderful books to enjoy!