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Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar

I'm sitting in my office, which is located over the garage of my house in Austin, Texas. My dogs, Lucky and Tippy, are here with me. They are the only people allowed in my office when I'm writing.

Lucky seems to understand that. He growls at my wife or my daughter if they try to enter. Maybe he hears me growling on the inside.

Lucky doesn't realize I'm not working on a book right now. Instead, I'm having to write this biography for my publisher. I'm not sure what people want to know about me. I'm afraid that my life isn't as interesting as people imagine it to be.

I write every morning. After about two hours, I can feel myself losing energy and concentration. It's best to quit when I'm still excited about what I'm writing. Then I'll be ready to go when I start the next day.

I couldn't write for a longer amount of time, even if I wanted to. Tippy has gotten used to my schedule, and after two hours she taps me with her paw, howls, barks, and otherwise lets me know it's time for her walk.

I never talk about a book until I'm finished writing it. (Lucky and Tippy are sworn to secrecy as well.) It took me a year and a half to write Holes, and nobody knew anything about it, not even my wife or my daughter. I think that is helpful for writing, as well as for anything else that takes a lot of self-motivation. The more you talk about something, the less you tend to do it. By not permitting myself to talk about Holes, I was forced to write it. The story was growing inside me for a year and a half, and I had no other way to let it out.

I write five or six drafts of each of my books. With each draft, the story changes and the ideas are transformed. What amazes me is that most days feel useless. I don't seem to accomplish anything -- just a few pages, most of which don't seem very good. Yet, when I put all those wasted days together, I somehow end up with a book of which I'm very proud. Somehow I've now written eighteen books.

In case you need this for a homework assignment, I'll include some facts about my life.

I was born in East Meadow, New York, in 1954. My father's office was on the 78th floor of the Empire State Building, which I still think is pretty cool.

When I was nine, we moved to Tustin, California. I went to college at the University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1976, as an economics major.

The year after I graduated from college, I wrote my first book, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I was working at a sweater warehouse during the day and wrote at night. Almost a year later, I was fired from the job. I decided to go to law school.

I attended Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. My first book was published while I was in law school. I graduated in 1980. For the next eight years I worked part-time as a lawyer and continued to try to write children's books. Then my books started selling well enough so that I was able to quit practicing law.

My wife's name is Carla. When I first met her, she was a counselor at an elementary school. She was the inspiration behind the counselor in There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom. We were married in 1985. Our daughter, Sherre, was born in 1987. She was four years old when I started writing the Marvin Redpost series. That's why Marvin has a four-year-old sister.

In my spare time, I like to play bridge and tennis. I'm a much better bridge player than tennis player. The other evening, I played tennis with a teacher. She clobbered me. When I found out she was a fourth-grade teacher, I told her who I was. She was very impressed. She couldn't wait to tell her class she had killed Louis Sachar playing tennis!

One thing I always want to know about my favorite authors is who their favorite authors are, so I will end with that. My list includes E. L. Doctorow, J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Kazuo Ishiguro, Flannery O'Connor, Rex Stout, Katherine Paterson, and E. B. White.

(Tippy is beginning to whine. Now she's tapping my leg . . .)

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Michael J. Sandel

Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1980. He is the author of many books, including Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, a New York Times bestseller in hardcover and paperback and a bestseller in translation in Japan and South Korea as well. He has taught his undergraduate course “Justice” to more than 15,000 Harvard students over the years, and video footage of the course were adapted into a PBS television series. Sandel graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University and received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He served on the George W. Bush administration's President's Council on Bioethics. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese was born in New York City and graduated from New York University with a degree in film. Widely considered one the best filmmakers in American history, his movies include Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, After Hours, Cape Fear, and Gangs of New York.

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George Selden

George Selden (1929-1989) was the author of A Cricket in Times Square, winner of the 1961 Newbery Honor and a timeless children’s classic. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Selden received his B.A. from Yale, where he was a member of the Elizabethan Club and contributed to the literary magazine. He spent three summer sessions at Columbia University and, after college, studied for a year in Rome on a Fulbright Scholarship.
People often asked Selden how he got the idea for The Cricket in Times Square. “One night I was coming home on the subway, and I did hear a cricket chirp in the Times Square subway station. The story formed in my mind within minutes. An author is very thankful for minutes like those, although they happen all too infrequently.” The popular Cricket series grew to seven titles, including Tucker's Countryside and The Old Meadow. In 1973, The Cricket in Times Square was made into an animated film. Selden wrote more than fifteen books, as well as two plays. His storytelling blends the marvelous with the commonplace realities of life, and it was essential to him that his animal characters display true emotions and feelings.

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Carol Sheriff

Carol Sheriff, a native of Bethesda, Maryland, received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. from Yale University. She is assistant professor of history at the College of William and Mary. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Uri Shulevitz

Uri Shulevitz is a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and author. He was born in Warsaw, Poland, on February 27, 1935. He began drawing at the age of three and, unlike many children, never stopped. The Warsaw blitz occurred when he was four years old, and the Shulevitz family fled. For eight years they were wanderers, arriving, eventually, in Paris in 1947. There Shulevitz developed an enthusiasm for French comic books, and soon he and a friend started making their own. At thirteen, Shulevitz won first prize in an all-elementary-school drawing competition in Paris's 20th district.
In 1949, the family moved to Israel, where Shulevitz worked a variety of jobs: an apprentice at a rubber-stamp shop, a carpenter, and a dog-license clerk at Tel Aviv City Hall. He studied at the Teachers' Institute in Tel Aviv, where he took courses in literature, anatomy, and biology, and also studied at the Art Institute of Tel Aviv. At fifteen, he was the youngest to exhibit in a group drawing show at the Tel Aviv Museum.
At 24 he moved to New York City, where he studied painting at Brooklyn Museum Art School and drew illustrations for a publisher of Hebrew books. One day while talking on the telephone, he noticed that his doodles had a fresh and spontaneous look—different from his previous illustrations. This discovery was the beginning of Uri's new approach to his illustrations for The Moon in My Room, his first book, published in 1963. Since then he was written and illustrated many celebrated children’s books. He won the Caldecott Medal for The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, written by Arthur Ransome. He has also earned three Caldecott Honors, for The Treasure, Snow and How I Learned Geography. His other books include One Monday Morning, Dawn, So Sleepy Story, and many others. He also wrote the instructional guide Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books. He lives in New York City.

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David J. Silbey

David J. Silbey teaches at Cornell University’s Washington, D.C., campus. He is the author of The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China (Hill and Wang, 2012) and A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899–1902 (Hill and Wang, 2007).

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Harvard Sitkoff

Harvard Sitkoff, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, is the author of New Deal for Blacks and editor of Fifty Years Later: The New Deal Evaluated and A History of Our Time.

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Daniel Blake Smith

Daniel Blake Smith is the author of The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth Century Chesapeake Society, and many articles on early American history. Formerly a professor of colonial American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a screenwriter and filmmaker.

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Dava Sobel

Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science reporter for the New York Times and writes frequently about science for several magazines, including Audubon, Discover, Life, and Omni. She lives in East Hampton, New York.

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Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag was the author of four novels, including In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for Fiction; a collection of stories; several plays; and seven works of nonfiction. She died in New York City on December 28, 2004.

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Sophocles was an ancient Greek playwright, the writer of Oedipus Rex and Antigone, among other classic works.

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