1. Describe Summer Sleep Away in 50 words or less.
Summer Sleep Away is the story of 12-year-old Mattie Kleinfeld's first summer going off to sleep away camp. At first, Mattie was homesick and cried himself to sleep. Soon, however, the tears gave way to new friends and fantastic adventures. At summer’s end, Mattie returns home with newly-found confidence.
2. In what ways have you put parts of your own life or people you know into your novels?
Every part of me, my friends, family and life experiences are in my books, especially the first two "Summer Sleep-Away" and "That Same Summer". My family owned a summer camp and so the various adventures and anecdotes I describe in my first two books either occurred to me or I heard about. Of course, the characters are compilations of different people I knew as well as different parts of myself.
3. What made you start writing? Is there a certain author that inspired you?
I started writing because my kids asked me to put down all the stories I had told them of my childhood at summer camp. When they finally went to campthemselves and I found a little time to myself, I gave writing a shot and found that it came naturally to me. I was able to get a first draft of "Summer Sleep-Away" done in less than a few months. My author hero is Mark Twain. I love his books. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are my favorite. Another of my favorite young adult books is "Holes" by Louis Sachar. It has adventure, good characters, a good story line and a nice message.
4. Is there a specific message you're trying to get across to readers of your books?
I don't believe I have a message to my readers. Instead, I try to capture a time and place that was special to me. For those kids lucky enough to go tocamp I believe they can relate. To those who cannot afford to I hope I can bring a little of that magic to them through my books. For the adults who went to camp a long time ago, I think they can relive their youth through the pages of my books. To me, a good book is like going to the movies in your mind. I try to bring that movie to my readers in the comfort of their bed, at night under the covers with a small reading light.
5. If you could travel back to any time in history, which would it be and why?
If I could go back in time I think I'd like to go back to the American frontier during the 1800's. As a kid, I was a big fan of "Little House on the Prairie" and always wanted to live during that time. Great open outdoors, unspoiled streams for fishing. It just seems like a really nice time and place in which to live.
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