A Bit More About Me

Me with a book, perched atop a larger-than-life Curious George.

I’ve always loved stories: reading them, listening to them, and telling them. In fact, my poor younger brother’s first memory turns out to be a far-fetched tale I once told in which I, his heroic big sister, was bouncing around our basement on my blue Hop 66 ball but rushed over to catch him and, presumably, save his life after an elderly visitor dropped him down the stairs.

Me (on the right) in seventh grade, before a school dance.

Despite my love of books and propensity for making things up, it didn’t occur to me that I might try to write fiction until after my first year of teaching middle school English. In getting to know my students, I reconnected with the middle-school version of myself, who read Judy Blume’s Just as Long as We’re Together and Irene Berg’s Up a Road Slowly over and over, and who wanted to experience the world through other people’s eyes and to know that other people felt some of the same things I did.

The summer after my first year of teaching middle school, I started to work on a novel of my own, and the summer before my tenth year of teaching middle school, I got my first book deal. During all those years in between, I did a whole lot of writing and reading and learning, especially during the two years I spent earning an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at a magical place called Vermont College of Fine Arts. And I am still writing and reading and learning today.

While I was at Vermont College, I read a collection of lectures and essays by the legendary children’s author Katherine Paterson. In one lecture, entitled “The Invisible Child,”  Paterson explained what she believes that young readers want writers to do: they want us “to look at them as they really are and assure them that it’s okay for them to be who they are.”

That’s exactly what good books have always done for me; they’ve helped me to see deep inside characters who have some of the same fears, insecurities, and defense mechanisms I have, and they’ve helped me to believe that these characters are lovable and deserving of happy things, so I am, too. I hope that my books can do this for readers.

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7 thoughts on “A Bit More About Me

  1. Nicole Kazakevich says:

    Hi Ms. Morrison!
    It’s Nicole Kazakevich from your 7th and 8th grade english classes that you taught at SIA. I’m writing a paper in which I’d really love to allude to that book we read as a class where, the mother had this “veil” that she lifts in order to see the little things in life. I’ve asked around and can’t figure out the name of the book. It would really help make my point in my paper. Can you please give me the name of the book?
    -Nicole

    • laurielmorrison says:

      Hi Nicole, Great to hear from you! The book you’re thinking of is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Good luck with your essay and I hope you’re doing well! I’ll send this info to your email address, too, in case you don’t see it here. Take care!

      • Nicole Kazakevich says:

        Thank you very much! I hope all is well with you and your writing! I’ve read a few of your entries and I have to admit it took me back to seventh grade english class when we learned about narratives and plot diagrams. I’m looking forward to the day one of my younger sisters picks up a book by you 🙂 Good luck with everything and thanks again!

  2. Carie Juettner says:

    Laurie, I am in awe of you. I too am writing (and rewriting) a middle grade novel, and before that I taught 7th grade English. But I never attempted to do both at the same time. Throw in blogging and planning a wedding to the mix, and I’m convinced you must have a version of Hermione’s Time Turner. How do you do it? When do you grade? Congrats on all you’ve accomplished and all that is yet to come.

    • laurielmorrison says:

      Hi Carie, thanks so much for your kind words! I write A LOT in the summer, a good amount on most weekends, and very little on weekday nights (and only after I’m finished with planning and grading). I credit my MFA program with teaching me how to be productive, at least most of the time, when I only have a half an hour or so to sit down and write on a school night. But it’s always a balancing act, as most things are, I think! I really enjoyed exploring your blog and loved your entry on MG vs YA. I’m working on a blog post on the same basic topic and will definitely link to yours when I post it. Happy writing!

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