“I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.” ~August (Auggie) Pullman
The DMS was lucky enough to interview R.J. Palacio, author of the middle grade novel Wonder. Lizzy recently reviewed this fascinating book, introducing us all to Auggie, whose story will forever change the way you look at the world around you. It was fun to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, R.J.!
What inspired you to write Wonder?
I was inspired to write Wonder after a chance encounter with a little girl in front of an ice cream shop. It was the way my children responded, the way I responded to their response, and the way the girl's mom responded to our reactions, that really got me thinking about what life must be like for someone in that situation. I was thinking about it a lot that day and then the song Wonder, by Natalie Merchant, came on the radio, and some magical combination between the words to that song and the incident that had happened earlier that day just made me start writing.
How long did it take you to write Wonder?
It took me about a year and a half to write Wonder: basically because the only time I had to write was in the middle of the night.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
I ran the gamut, in terms of interests. Everyone from Tolkien to Tolstoy which, like Via in the book, I read when I was fourteen. I loved the big epic books that were popular when I was growing up: James Michener and James Clavell. I liked Judy Blume. I liked anything about Greek Mythology. I liked science fiction.
If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend?
I would be friends with Auggie.
You wrote each section of Wonder from a different point of view. What did you do to help capture the personality of each character and tell Auggie’s story through their eyes? Was there any character who was the most challenging to write from?
I was very lucky in being to really get inside these characters, who felt quite real to me, and to be able to imagine their reactions to things and events. It really wasn't that hard for me, to be truthful. The only time it became hard was when I was trying to write from Julian's point of view, because ultimately, he didn't want to get to know Auggie at all, and it was Auggie's story I was interested in telling. So after a few pages and a few days of struggling with it, I decided not to include him because, ultimately, he didn't give a dang about Auggie and so I didn't give a dang about him.
What is your favorite song?
Wonder, by Natalie Merchant.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
I would live exactly where I live now, but in a larger apartment. I'm a born and bred New Yorker. Having said that, I think I could be happy in Santa Monica for a while. And I would live in Paris.
Where can we purchase your books?
Anywhere books are sold.
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☞ Today's Precept: Be kinder than necessary.