During a virtual visit with Edmunds, Pembroke and Charlotte 7th and 8th graders, Gary Schmidt, author of Okay for Now, shared “the story behind the story.” He recounted how a library he was familiar with in Flint, MI, was running into financial hardships and began selling off their John J. Audubon prints (prominent in the novel).
He shared history of the prints and some history of the U.S. which contributed to the pieces of the story as it unfolded in Okay for Now. With candor and deep interest, the students, teachers, and Gary exchanged heartfelt reactions about the characters and their circumstances. They were particularly interested in knowing the outcome of characters and were pleased to hear that the same protagonists show up in Orbiting Jupiter, a recent novel, and that they show up in an upcoming book as well.
Students got a sneak peek when Gary shared some visuals and the writing/illustrating process with them regarding his picture book to be published about Sojourner Truth. Gary shared that there are two general plots in the world: a stranger comes to town, or someone leaves town. Either way, Gary says that you get to reinvent yourself.
Students had lots of questions regarding the characters, those they liked and related to, and those they hated (Doug’s mean father), and asked about how true any of the circumstances were in the story.
Ultimately, they loved comments about writing like this one: “ inspiration is just a bunch of hooey – sit your butt down and you just do it!”
We’re so glad that Gary does, and that he’s always willing to guide young writers and inspire them to write it out!