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Children's book author Katherine Paterson shares her thoughts about her new serial story and writing in general.
Date published: 2/14/2005
The Haxhius have now moved to Michigan, where there is a large Kosovar community, and Paterson keeps in touch with them.
Despite the artistic license Paterson took with the story, other things, like the history and geography of the country, are precise.
Paterson took pains to study the mountainous terrain of Kosovo--a country smaller than the state of Vermont--so she could accurately estimate how long it would take the family in her story to make a journey.
The Haxhius read "Long Road Home" for Paterson, and said they liked the story.
"When you come from a tiny country no one has heard of except in a negative way, just the recognition that your country will be read about--even if it's not your life--you know the lives of your people are being honored and respected."
Paterson said she enjoys writing serial stories for newspapers. She wrote her first for Breakfast Serials at the urging of her friend, Avi, another writer.
At first Paterson didn't think she had any ideas for a story, but then she remembered an outline she had for a story she'd never finished. It became "Field of Dogs."
Serial stories are very different from the other kinds of books Paterson has written, such as the Newbery Award-winning "Jacob Have I Loved" and "Bridge to Terabithia," and "Jip: His Story," which won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.
"You write three pages and a cliffhanger," Paterson said. "The next chapter, you clean up the cliffhanger and build up to another one. There's not a lot of room for character development and setting--all the things you think about with a novel."
Paterson is working on a new novel, but said she doesn't talk about a work until it's finished. The new work is in the revision stages.
She writes in a tiny office in the upstairs of her Vermont home, which was built some time between 1830 and 1840. The room is sparse, with some office equipment and a worn chair. There isn't even a window; just a skylight.
She used to work in a large room downstairs, filled with windows. But after her husband, John, retired and was at home more, the room was too central, and she was too easily distracted.
Paterson doesn't write every day, though she said "real writers" do. She began writing when she had very young children.