I am honored to present this interview with Sharon Draper, author of Out of my mind, an inspirational and powerful book about a young girl and her journey with communication. To check out my review and links to teacher lessons and resources, click here.
What inspired you to write the book, Out of my mind?
The simple answer to your question is I wrote the book because it needed to be written. Those kids like Melody needed a voice. It is amazing how many people with a whole array of disabilities have written to me because the book called attention to their particular plight. They simply thanked me for letting the world “see” them as real people. I do have a daughter with a disability, but she is NOT Melody! Not even close. She tells me all the time to make sure people don’t think she is Melody. She thinks it’s funny, and loves the attention it brings her. Bringing up a child with special needs gives one a huge insight into the world of special ed and don’t even get me started on the cruelty that systems like Common Core have inflicted on those kids.
How did the character of Melody develop?
Melody developed gradually, over a two-three year period, becoming a real person as I changed and revised the story. Most of my characters do that—they grow from a seed as I begin writing, then grow to face a challenge, sometimes personal, sometimes social, usually both. The characters then begin to be “real people” for me. I don’t really think about it. I look to their strength, their uniqueness, their power to propel the reader through the story. I’m real proud of how Melody turned out.
Sharon M. Draper is a professional educator as well as an accomplished writer. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year, is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Awards, and is a New York Times bestselling author, with Out of my Mind staying on the list for almost two years. To learn more about Sharon and her extensive bio, literacy awards and many other published books, check out her website here.