Oddly, the military world is one of great sameness. There is an orderly quality to life on an army base, and even the children of the military are brought up with that sense of order and sameness.
Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of 'The Giver': the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.
When I create characters, I create a world to inhabit and they begin to feel very real for me. I don't belong in a psych ward, I don't think, but they become very real, like my own family, and then I have to say goodbye, close the door, and work on other things.
I believe without a single shadow of a doubt that it is necessary for young people to learn to make choices. Learning to make right choices is the only way they will survive in an increasingly frightening world.
I've always been fascinated by memory and dreams because they are both completely our own. No one else has the same memories. No one has the same dreams.
What comes to me always is a character, a scene, a moment. That's going to be the beginning. Then, as I write, I begin to perceive an ending. I begin to see a destination, although sometimes that changes. And then, of course, there's the whole middle section looming.
We live in times that are in many ways ambiguous. Maybe that's why kids want precision in what they read - they don't like that moral ambiguity.
The grand surprise has really been the fact that being an author, which to me had always implied being a private person, actually requires you to be a public person as well, and those are two separate entities to me.
I don't set out to transmit a message. I don't write with a political point of view. There are no religious overtones. Looking back at my books, I can say, 'Oh, yes, it is there.' But it's not in my mind when I write.
Many of the books I loved as a kid, that even my mother read as a child, are very slow going. Today's children are not as patient. The best example of this is 'The Secret Garden,' which I adored as a child.
I often compare myself as a kid to my own grandchildren, who are around 11 and 14 now. That's the age kids usually read my book. And I remember myself; we'd gone through a world war. My father was an army officer so I was aware of what was going on. But I wasn't bombarded with images of catastrophe like many kids are today.
Pretending that there are no choices to be made - reading only books, for example, which are cheery and safe and nice - is a prescription for disaster for the young.
I would say that most of my books are contemporary realistic fiction... a couple, maybe three, fall into the 'historic fiction' category. Science fiction is not a favorite genre of mine, though I have greatly enjoyed some of the work of Ursula LeGuin. I haven't read much science fiction so I don't know other sci-fi authors.
People are starting to refer to 'The Giver' as a classic, but I don't know how that is defined. But if it means that 10, 20, 50 years from now kids will still be reading it, that is kind of awe-inspiring.
Often in the past, there have been authors that were deeply disappointed in their adaptation, but that's because they haven't accepted the fact that a movie is a different thing, and it can't possibly be the same as the book.
'Gathering Blue' was a separate book. I wanted to explore what a society might become after a catastrophic world event. Only at the end did I realize I could make it connect to 'The Giver.'
I've always been interested in medicine and was pleased when my brother became a doctor. But after thinking seriously about that field, I realized that what intrigued me was not the science, not the chemistry or biology of medicine, but the narrative - the story of each patient, each illness.
I have been fortunate. I have done so many things and enjoyed so many things and had such a great life, not to imply that it is ending, but that there aren't many things that I feel I have left undone.
I don't for one second think about the possibility of censorship when I am writing a new book. I know I am a person who cares about kids and who cares about truth and I am guided by my own instincts, and trust them.
When I wrote 'The Giver,' it contained no so-called 'bad words.' It was set, after all, in a mythical, futuristic, and Utopian society. Not only was there no poverty, divorce, racism, sexism, pollution, or violence in the world of 'The Giver'; there was also careful attention paid to language: to its fluency, precision, and power.