Cammie O'Reilly is the warden's daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she's also living in a prison of grief and anger about the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And prison has made her mad. This girl's nickname is Cannonball.
In the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything is in flux. Cammie's best friend is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. All will play a role in Cammie's coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.
Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli spins a tale of loss and redemption like no other. The Warden's Daughter shows that kindness and compassion can often be found where we least expect it.
Praise for the works of Jerry Spinelli:
Spinelli is a poet of the prepubescent. . . . No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion. The New York Times
It's almost unreal how much the children's book still resonates. Bustle.com on Maniac Magee."
Today we welcome Jerry Spinelli for an interview!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
When I was the age of many of my characters I wanted to be a baseball player.
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It varies, but on average I'd say about a year.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
Pay attention: to everyday life, to memories. Add imagination. I've found several ideas in the newspaper.
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I try to stick to a couple hours in the morning. Evenings are optional.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
When you have thirty grandkids, you learn to balance or else!
What elements do you think make a great story line?
Something that touches the reader's heart.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Beginnings are easy. Endings are fairly easy. Sometimes the middle is a problem, like standing one-foot on a rock in a stream, looking for the next stepping stone.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Write what you care about.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
Favorite book: When You Are Happy by Eileen Spinelli (my wife). If I had any early inspiration at all, it was Red McCarthy, the sports editor of my hometown newspaper.
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
Eileen always gets first crack at my manuscripts; then comes my editor, who for this book is Nancy Siscoe.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Jerry!
When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead.
He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren.
Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his book Maniac Magee. After his high school football team won a big game, his classmates ran cheering through the streets — all except Spinelli, who went home and wrote a poem about the victory. When his poem was published in the local paper, Spinelli decided to become a writer instead of a major-league shortstop.
In most of his books, Spinelli writes about events and feelings from his own childhood. He also gets a lot of material from his seven adventurous kids! Spinelli and his wife, Eileen, also a children's book author, live in Pennsylvania.