Writing Nonfiction (Two Views!)

Click to View "The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton"

It would seem that, when you do something as solitary as writing, you probably never meet other writers. But that’s not true. We writers meet each other all the time at book events, presentations, online…somehow we find one another.

I’ve known children’s writer Andrea Cheng for quite a few years and when she asked me to collaborate on a project for Lee and Low, the publisher of her latest book, I didn’t have to think too hard before I said yes.

Andrea and I have both written nonfiction but we take very different approaches. I’m a purist: All the dialogue in my books comes from diaries, letters, or various other sources. I don’t make up thoughts or scenes. I have to have documentation that my subject thought or said or did something before I will even consider including any words or incidents in one of my books.

Click To View Etched In Clay by Andrea Cheng

Andrea writes a more creative kind of nonfiction. Her latest book, Etched in Clay, is about a slave born in the U.S. in 1800 who was forbidden by law to read or write so, obviously, she had very few documents to work with. She stayed as close as she could to what few written records she did have and used her imagination.

If you’d like to hear our conversation about how we write nonfiction from those two very different angles, check out our podcast.