Last week, I heard Judy Blume speak as part of the Talking Volumes program here in Minnesota. You can be part of the live audience as the radio show Talking Volumes is recorded, and it’s what I did for Sherman Alexie’s appearance, too. With anything of this nature, you’re talking about an author who’s a big enough name to essentially be on tour. So it always feels a bit like a performance, because of course they get asked the same questions and tell the same stories over and over again. It’s usually interesting and entertaining, though, and an enjoyable evening out.
I remember an adult I didn’t know gave me Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, at a really traumatic point. I wasn’t going through the angst about the same things Margaret is, but the book made a huge impression on me, because I was in need of faith in…something, anything! I also remember sneaking Forever back and forth between friends in junior high (because watch out if a teacher or parent caught you with it). I wasn’t a Blume fanatic, but I read a bunch of her other books, took, at one point or another. It’s hard to believe she’s 70 years old, because she’s articulate, funny, and looks fabulous! Here are a few of my favorite comments from the evening:
“My favorite age will always be 11 or 12, when everything is new.”
At her first booksigning, her mother came and brought Judy’s two young daughters, who each brought one friend. That was the whole crowd.
“When I meet kids, we recognize each other.”
On the longevity of her books: “The way we live may change, but what’s inside doesn’t change.”
She has written a few books that are based on real experiences in her life, and now she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not.
She started out writing in rhyme and wanted to be the next Dr. Seuss.
When she submitted Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing, several editors rejected it because it would “teach kids to swallow turtles.”
Starring Sally J. Friedman was more autobiographical. “I used to make bargains with God, like, “I’ll get a 100 on my spelling test if you make sure Daddy’s plane doesn’t crash.”
She enjoys her books–she’s easy on herself. When she has reason to go back and read one years later, she doesn’t beat herself up about the weak points.
On censorship: One woman wrote: “You told my son about puberty. I wanted to be the one.” Judy: “Yeah? Where were you?”
She had lots more to say, of course! And it was great to hear her read passages from a couple of books. And to see her share her emotions about her father and her characters and her books. In a few weeks, after it’s broadcast, the show should be online, and I’ll try to remember to check and post a link!