Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Great Unexpected: Idea? Fear?

It is not easy to answer the question: "Where did you get the idea for this [or any] book?"  A book is not one idea. It is thousands.

But: What was that very first spark? 

Recently–prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy–I attempted to answer that question for an interview about The Great Unexpected:

    Aware that so many children are more fearful now than when I was young, I hoped to create a story in which the unexpected could be something great instead of something to be feared.  Two other notions wrapped themselves around this idea. One was how closely the 'real' merges with the imaginary in the lives of young people. Another notion was the intricate connections between people–some obvious and some not. . .  
   And so evolved this story of two young girls: in whom the real and imaginary merge; who discover intricate connections between people and places; and who learn that the unexpected can be great.

Now, post-Sandy-Hook-tragedy, I am especially mindful of the fear so many of those students and teachers must have felt, and of the fear which the survivors continue to feel.  I wish I could ease it. I hope that 'intricate connections' in their lives will sustain them; I hope that the living and the dead will unite in their minds and hearts; and I hope that one day the survivors will again be able to look forward to the unexpected. 


  1. I don't think we can underestimate the role stories and books can play in a child's life. They can be the most intimate of friends. The most comforting support. Solace. I cherish books like these that can capture a child's imagination without setting the emotional stakes too high.

    More please.

  2. Replies
    1. That's what we all want. That our book will be a comforting haven for a child. Beautifully said, Sharon.

  3. You articulate a very complicated feeling very well. I feel exactly the same--you don't want to miss out on the beauty of life by being afraid...but obviously there are things out there that will be hurtful. Especially here in CT, I guess, there is this tangible tension, where people seem afraid of everything.
    But I think your lovely book addressed those questions and emotions beautifully...and showed that life is bigger than all that.

  4. It will take time. Somehow we are forever changed.

  5. Wonderful words, Sharon. The Great Unexpected is a fitting contribution to this increasingly complicated world. Children need to know that things will be okay no matter what.

    I have an eight year old granddaughter who tells me that she worries about things and that she gets a "nervous stomach." She is very intuitive and wise for her age so this is likely a contributing factor. It is especially difficult to shelter children like my granddaughter since she is very attuned in to things around her.

    I've been very concerned about the reactions of her and her sister since the Sandy Hook tragedy. My daughter said that neither of the girls have heard about what happened, at least yet. My hope is that they never will but I know that that is simply wishful thinking on my part.

  6. This is lovely; thank you. I still can't absorb what happened to those beautiful children and their teachers and principal.

    I had a 'black humor' moment with fear this summer that I should have been too embarrassed to share with a soul, but it made me realize how much I've carted around my own fear of the unexpected since I was very young. (http://bit.ly/Qb0n6Z) I hope my girl will not do the same.

    And thank you for 'The Great Unexpected' -- I'm in the middle of reading it right now and expect I will love it as much as I did Walk Two Moons.

    1. I tried to post a reply to your 'fear' post on your blog, but I'm not sure it went through. I loved it! xx

    2. Thank you for taking time to read it (I didn't see a reply, but thank you for writing one regardless)...