Tag Archives: Thomas Wolfe

Writing Home: From Page to Stage

I know most authors dream of a movie deal, but I got to see my book brought to life in a way I hadn’t even dreamed of.  This spring, I had the incredibly unique opportunity of working with an entire 4th grade to turn my picture book into a play.

If you are ever looking for fresh ways to combine author visit with teaching artist, I highly recommend this.  Both the kids and I had so much fun and learned so much in the process, and the product blew me away.  But like all good learning, it didn’t come without challenges.

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My book, Writing Home: the Story of Author Thomas Wolfe, is a picture book.  It’s short. It has no dialogue.  And it’s a biography, so it’s essentially a story about one person.  The task at hand was to have 82 students write the script and act it out.  And we had just five 45 minute classes to do it.

We got creative with it.  We broke it into 16 scenes, which was cool because Thomas Wolfe got to be black, white, and Latino, male and female, tall and short.  The students learned to extrapolate on what other characters might have been there, and what might have been said that wasn’t on the pages of my book.  What they came up with was clever and entertaining.

When Grover died on stage, the mother threw a sheet over him and the narrator comically tossed a bouquet of flowers on top.  When a circus rented out the boarding house, a student dressed in a clown wig stepped down from the stage to tell jokes to the audience.  To show that Tom won a debate, the students wanted to base it in something that was real for them, so they staged a debate about whether or not toys should be allowed at school.  And when Tom finally returned to Asheville, a British farm boy offered him “some milk, on the house!”

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For many of the students, this was their first time in a play.  In addition to figuring out how to adapt the book to script, we practiced staging, projection, and inflection.  All of that in addition to overcoming stage fright.

But seeing them on stage, they totally let loose and had fun with it.  And best of all, they felt successful.  They felt a sense of ownership since they wrote their lines and staged their scenes, then got to see it come to life as we put their scenes together in front of an audience.

 

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Great Big Thank You

Book signingI just wanted to say an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who has shown up to my launch parties, spread the word about my book, cheered me on when I’ve felt insecure (it turns out that publication doesn’t make that go away, but sometimes affirming readers do!), and been otherwise supportive in so many ways since my book came out this spring… and long before!

It really struck me when I was heading to my hometown after writing a book about a guy returning to his hometown after writing a book.  Thomas Wolfe was met with death threats and boycotts of his book and went on to write You Can’t Go Home Again.  Well, I can.

I got to go home to a book signing overflowing with my family, childhood neighbors, grade school teachers, and old friends.  And that was after my current home, Asheville, surrounded me with friends and fellow writers, co-workers, students and their families at my book signings here.

I’m touched and so grateful for you!

Photo Booth 09  Photo Booth 26  Photo Booth 31.jpg

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Bring “Writing Home” Home!

Well, I suppose I ought to mention that my book got published!  It’s very exciting, by which I also mean sort of horrifying, especially that self-promotion piece.  Thanks for letting me practice it with you!

If you live in the area, I would love for you to come celebrate with me.  I am having a book launch at Firestorm Cafe & Books this Saturday, May 14th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.  There will be tasty treats and kid-friendly activities.  I will also be signing books at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial on Saturday, May 21st from 1:00 to 3:00pm.

Oh, and you can get a copy of Writing Home at Malaprop’s Bookstore, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial gift shop, the Rowman & Littlefield website, or Amazon.  Thanks for all the kindness and support!

And while I’m on a roll with this self-promotion bit, there is still some room in my summer camps!  If you know of any creative kids who enjoy writing, art, acting, or even mystery-solving, please spread the word.  You can find more info about these True Ink camps here.

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Thomas Wolfe is Law

As it turns out, Writing Home: The Story of Author Thomas Wolfe, my picture book coming out in May, is not the only Wolfian biography stepping onto the scene.   Probably inspired by my book and riding on the coattails of its success, a major film starring Jude Law, Colin Firth, and Nicole Kidman is debuting this summer depicting the fiery relationship between Wolfe and his publisher, Maxwell Perkins.

So basically, post-apocalyptic is out and Thomas Wolfe is in.  Get it while it’s hot.  Really though, the movie looks great.  Check out the trailer for Genius here:

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi1953674521/imdb/embed?autoplay=false&width=640

 

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Great, BIG, Thomas-Wolfe-Sized News!

I’m just going to blurt it out.

I SIGNED MY FIRST PICTURE BOOK CONTRACT!

I have spent the last four summers leading creative writing camps amid the contagious inspiration of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, watching kids bubble with questions about the exotic 1900s kitchen appliances, their faces pale standing beside the bed where Tom’s brother died, and then their pencils race with creative fuel.

Wolfe Shoes

Writing about this author, I’ve got some big shoes to fill!

Now, I am so grateful that I get to work with Taylor Trade Publishing to spread the story of Thomas Wolfe’s growing up in Asheville – a story that will also hopefully get kids bubbling with questions, their faces paling, and their pencils racing.

Not only that, but they have asked me to illustrate the book as well, a totally new endeavor for me that has me both thrilled and occasionally in fights with my watercolor paints.

And we’ll just say that those watercolor fights are the source of this wet spot on my pants, and not the fact that I am so excited I can’t contain myself…

Stay posted!

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