Whether writing about the past or present, real people or imagined characters, Laurie Halse Anderson is a compelling writer. She plays with form and style to present individuals from the inside and Anderson's playful side emerges when she looks at real history and women who played a role in it. Anderson also has a particular fondness for animals, expressed in her ongoing series, Vet Volunteers.
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Laurie Halse Anderson, or see a selected list of her children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
Laurie Halse (rhymes with "waltz") Anderson got to know and appreciate cold weather growing up in upstate New York. She attended elementary school in Syracuse, where she was terrified that she'd never be able to learn how to read. With help from her teachers, Laurie did crack the code and then became one those students who hide library books inside textbooks during class.
As a teenager, Laurie escaped the traditional classroom and was a foreign exchange student in Denmark, where she worked on pig farm. She developed a fondness for bacon and working with animals. While attending Onondaga Community College, she worked at a dairy farm. In 1981, she transferred to Georgetown University and graduated three years later with a degree in Languages and Linguistics.
Thinking it was time to get a real job, Laurie realized that people would actually pay her to write. She became a freelance writer and journalist, though now that she had two children of her own, she was even more interested in writing her own stories. Her intense desire to not have to do the same thing day in and out turned into numerous picture books, middle-grade titles and award-winning teen and historical fiction, including National Book Award finalist, Speak, and National Book Award finalist, Chains.