Pat Brisson published May 2010 by Viking Press
I am primarily a picture book author, and tend to think short. But several members of my writing group write novels and I’ve long been tempted to give one a try, although the thought of holding all those ideas, themes, characters, and scenes in my head for such a long time seemed daunting. So I chose an idea I could sum up in a single sentence: A fifteen-year-old gets pregnant and decides to give up her baby for adoption.
I’ve heard people compare picture books to poetry, because every word counts and the best are written in a lyrical style. And since I’ve written picture books, I naively thought I could write a novel in verse. It would be easy! Like writing a lot of little picture books! Hah!
It wasn’t easy. But it was definitely a learning experience. I bought many books about how poetry works and how to write poems and gave myself a crash course, trying to learn as much as I could. I would start each morning reading about forms and find one – a pantoum, for instance, where the second and fourth lines are repeated as the first and third lines of the following stanza, - and think: this form would be great for showing the character’s mind going back and forth trying to make a difficult decision. Then I’d spend the afternoon writing a pantoum for the book. This went on for months. Okay. . . years.
I learned about the aubade, the sonnet, the triolet, the haiku, the ballad, the blues poem, the villanelle, the list poem, the performance poem, the pastiche. I learned about free verse and blank verse, the use of repetition, and meter, metaphor, simile, personification, line breaks and different kinds of rhymes. And I tried to incorporate the things I was learning into the book I was writing. It was a challenging undertaking, but one I enjoyed.
And I thought that readers might enjoy learning some of the things I had learned about poetry, so I decided to include a Chatty Glossary in the back of the book. This would be like an author chat – a chance for me to explain the different forms and why I chose them for that particular poem. I thought it was a genius idea, but my publisher didn’t share my opinion. So if you want to see the Chatty Glossary, go to my website patbrisson.com and let me know what you think, okay?
I hope you enjoy reading The Best and Hardest Thing. And I hope you read the Chatty Glossary. But most of all, I hope you fall in love with poetry. Read it. Memorize it. Let it speak to you and let it carry you through the rough times and the happy times. Try your hand at writing it and find out for yourself how satisfying this search for the right word, perfect image and beautiful sound can be.
Pat, with help from her son, created a couple of awesome youtube videos about her new book to share with readers. You won't want to miss that box of matches. Sparks fly! Listen as Pat reads excerpts on these links:
The Best and Hardest Thing will resonate with teenage girls on many levels, because it is about so much more than what happens when you're fifteen and make a mistake. I'm not going to say more about the story; I want you to read it for yourselves. I will tell you that the ending is unforgettable. Yes, I wept, and then I wept some more. If you are a teen or love a teen or was a teen, then buy this book. Share it; give it often as a gift. The story will stay with you long after you've read the last page. Thank you, Pat, for writing this book!
Pat has graciously donated an autographed copy of The Best and Hardest Thing. Simply leave a comment on this post by May 26th for a chance to win the book! The winner will be chosen by random.com. You can also purchase a copy by clicking on this shortened amazon.com link: http://www.littleurl.net/b40901
While you're over at amazon, take a look at Pat's new picture book, Sometimes We Were Brave published Jan 2010 by Boyds Mills Press http://tinyurl.com/244kfrw (amazon.com).
Jerome's mom is a sailor. When her ship is in home port, she and Jerome bake cookies, read books together, and take their dog, Duffy, for walks. When mom's ship goes to sea, she gives Jerome a hug and says, "Be brave, Jerome. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Here's the link to Pat's web-site one more time. patbrisson.com
Leave a comment by May 26th for a chance to win The Best and Hardest Thing! We look forward to hearing from you.
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