For the Fall 2013 children's announcements issue, we spoke with nine writers whose trilogies are drawing to a close this fall. They shared what it takes to keep dozens of characters and thousands of pages straight--and how it feels when it's all over.
Any special method for keeping details straight?
I have a “bible” that helps me remember each character’s birthday and eye color, a master calendar of scenes, and posters full of old Alcatraz photos, but the most incredible method I have for keeping track is a rock in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. I live within walking distance of the ferry. Alcatraz Island circa 2013 feels remarkably like Alcatraz Island circa 1935.
How much stuff did you collect to complete the series?
I have three shelves with Alcatraz, autism, and Al Capone books, a file cabinet drawer, and two giant bins of files, but the most valuable assets are my Alcatraz friends. On July 20, I’ll be hosting a brunch for my favorite Alcatraz guard, my favorite prisoner, and one of my favorite Alcatraz “children.” In August, I’ll attend Alcatraz Alumni Day as I have for the last 13 years.
Did anything develop plot-wise that completely surprised you?
The real question is what developed plot-wise that didn’t surprise me. I always start out with a plan, but the characters refuse to do as they are told. In Al Capone Does My Homework, Piper’s behavior wasn’t just a surprise, it was a shock.
How does it feel to have finished?
I’m sad not to be Moose anymore. Boring, middle-aged women do not get their laundry done by world-famous gangsters.