Laurie Friedman’s Mallory chapter book series is wrapping up this fall with #28 Mallory Makes a Difference. Mallory’s had a lot of adventures over the years, from going to camp for the first time to taking trip to New York. We asked Laurie a few questions about writing, thinking of ideas for Mallory stories, and what she thinks Mallory will be when she grows up.
When did you start writing?
Being an author was always my dream, and I wrote my first book in third grade. It was called “The Mystery of the Dark Cellar” and it sounded a lot like Nancy Drew books, which were my favorites at the time. I’m pretty sure the only people who read my book were my mom and dad and my teacher. But I kept writing (and reading!) and eventually my dream of becoming a published author came true. My answer to kids who ask how to become an author is always the same: Practice your writing and read.
Why did you decide to write books for young readers?
I think the best thing to write about is either something you know well or a time or event in your life that was meaningful. For me, that was my childhood. I have so many happy memories of growing up in my small town in Arkansas and nothing is more fun to me than writing about them. Of course, I had some challenges too and they made their way into the books as well.
How do you get ideas for Mallory’s adventures?
That’s a great question! I get ideas from all sorts of places. I keep an ideas basket on my desk and whenever something happens that piques my interest, I jot it down on a note card and put it in the basket. There are all sorts of things in it . . . bits and pieces of conversations, funny jokes, photos, recipes, even some party favors!
That said, most of the things that happen to Mallory happened to me when I was her age or to my daughter when she was growing up. In fact, the first book in the Mallory chapter book series, Mallory on the Move, is based on my daughter’s reaction when we had to move. She was so upset to leave behind her room, her school, and mostly, her best friend. As her mother, I felt just awful. But as an author, I thought it was a great way to start a book.
Do you have any favorite Mallory books?
Gosh, that’s a hard one to answer. I love them all!
Mallory has had a lot of projects and passions over the series. What do you think she’ll be when she grows up?
It’s true. Mallory has tried so many different things. Art. Acting. Basketball. Band. Babysitting. Even fashion design!
She’s loved lots of the things she’s done, but her favorite activity has always been taking care of her beloved cat, Cheeseburger. When Mallory grows up, I feel pretty confident she’ll want to be a veterinarian.
Do you ever draw plots from your own life?
Absolutely! In fact, my tween journal-format series, The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair, is almost autobiographical. It’s written from the point of view of April Sinclair—the oldest of three girls growing up in a small southern town. If you want to know what my teen years were like, just read about April!
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For readers who have graduated from the Mallory series, check out The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair, Laurie’s chapter book series for older readers.