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When Being Nosy is Good!

Dec 17, 2012

When Margaret Peterson Haddix was growing up, she acted in plays; played piano, flute, and piccolo; sang in the school choir; worked on the school paper; ran track; and volunteered after school. “Lest you think I was some multitalented prodigy,” Margaret says, “I should point out that I’m a terrible singer, a terrible actor, and, as a runner, I’m really, really good at walking. It was just fun to try out lots of different activities.” She was also gathering material for the many books she’d one day write.

Margaret began her professional writing career as a newspaper reporter. “That really gave me the opportunity to meet lots of different people in vastly different circumstances,” she explains. “It never failed to amaze me that I could sit down with people, and begin asking really, really nosy questions, and because I was from the newspaper, they would almost always answer.

“Hearing so many different stories from so many different people—and witnessing so many different events—didn’t just inspire me to write it all down. It also inspired me to play with different plots and characters and settings in my head. Facts weren’t enough for me. I still also wanted fiction.” So Margaret left her reporting job to write her first novel, Running Out of Time. “Like most writers, I went through an agonizing phase of submitting my work and collecting nothing but rejection letters for quite a while,” she recalls. However, rejection turned to acceptance—enough for Margaret to become a successful author of 25 books for teens and kids!

“My criteria for what I write hasn’t changed that much [since I started],” Margaret says. “I know I have to write a story when the story keeps me awake at night, teases at the back of my brain all day, just won’t let me go. And that’s why I became a writer.”

Read more about Margaret, her writing advice, and her books on The Studio.