Interview with Lois Lowry

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Lois Lowry is one of the most famous authors of her time with over thirty children’s books and two Newbery Medals for her novels Number the Stars and The Giver. One of her more acclaimed books, The Giver, has received controversial reactions from American schools, some of which welcomed her work while others banned it. Lowry also earned the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association and was a finalist for the Hans Christian Andersen Award which is an international accolade recognizing the highest achievements in children’s books. She is known for taking on mature subject matter such as the Holocaust and challenging authority, but in a way that reaches younger audiences.

Howl: Would you say that your life experiences have influenced your writing? If so, in what ways.

Lowry: Sure, they do. All writers would say the same thing. What you have experienced affects your knowledge of human emotions. And that is what goes into the writing of books.

Howl: What is your writing process when it comes to creating a new book?

Lowry: I create a character in my imagination, and put him…or her…into a situation where he, or she, will have to make choices. That is what plot consists of. it is always where I start.

Howl: Has your writing process altered since the publication of your first book, A Summer To Die For?


Lowry: No, the mental process has not changed. But the physical has, because of computers. It is much easier not to revise and rewrite.

Howl: Your book, The Giver, has a lot of mixed reviews by many schools and has received a lot of criticism. How do you take this as an author?

Lowry: I appreciate that it is a book that makes people think. That’s a good thing. I like it when the book initiates discussion and debate.

Howl: Who was/is your main supporter of your work as an author?

Lowry: My publishers; and my editors over the years.

Howl: Did you always want to become an author?

Lowry: Yes, from the time I was 8 or 9.

Howl: As an author what are some fears you may face when getting your work published?

Lowry: I don’t have any particular fears. There will always be people who don’t like a book, and I take that for granted; it doesn’t bother me.

Howl: What was the inspiration behind wring the book, The Giver?

Lowry: My curiosity about what for the future might take was the inspiration for The Giver.

Howl: What advice would you give to young authors who are inspired by your work?

Lowry: I would advise any young would-be authors to read widely, to read the best literature possible.

Howl: Why did you choose to make The Giver end so abruptly? 

Lowry: I liked the ambiguity of the ending, the idea that readers could make their own decisions about what happened. But I realized after time, that readers didn’t like that. Eventually I went on to write three books that continued the story. This group of four books is now known as The Giver Quartet.

Howl: What are some of your favorite books? 

Lowry: Most of my favorite books are adult books. I couldn’t begin to list them here. Too many!

Howl: What kind of impact has photography taken on your writing? Has it inspired any of your books?

Lowry: I have a very keen visual sense and I think all of my books reflect that. One in particular, A Summer To Die, has a young protagonist who studies photography.

Howl: At the end of your book, The Giver, do both the young child and baby live or die?

Lowry: They are both alive and well and you can follow their lives in the three books that continue the story.

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