Laurie Halse Anderson
© Joyce Tenneson.
Simon & Schuster
conducted by Rita
RWG: In Chains,
you’ve recreated everyday life down to the smallest
domestic detail. What was your most fascinating find
in all of your research?
I was most fascinated by the kind of
medical treatments used (superstitious remedies for
epilepsy, cobwebs to staunch bleeding, etc.) and the
kinds of make-up used by upper class women. The detail
that made me dance when I found it was the use of mouse
RWG: Each chapter begins with a date followed by an
excerpt from an array of sources such as diaries, letters,
articles, speeches and poetry. Is there an excerpt that
remains with you long after having finished this novel?
The quote from the John Adams letter
about wishing he coud fly across the ocean the way angels
were believed to fly from planet to planet comes to
mind, because I spent so much time in airplanes this
year. Also, the entire text of Common Sense,
the book that made the argument for revolution and moved
the hearts of thousands, still echoes in my mind.
RWG: We are treated
to a heroic female character who navigates through political
intrigue, peril and cruelty as a child, female, black
and a slave—all carrying repercussions and limitations
of their time period. How did you manage to keep Isabel
heroic yet true to her circumstances?
I'm not sure I can take credit for that
-Isabel was a strong and self-defining character.
Williams-Garcia is the author of six distinguished novels
for young adults: Jumped, No Laughter Here, Every
Time a Rainbow Dies, Fast Talk on a Slow Track, Blue
Tights, and Like Sisters on the Homefront.
She has also published a picture book and has contributed
to numerous anthologies. Williams-Garcia's works have
been recognized by the Coretta Scott King Award Committee,
the PEN/Norma Klein Award, the American Library Association,
and Parents' Choice, among others. She recently served
on the National Book Award Committee for Young People's
Literature and is on faculty at Vermont College for
the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program.
Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, Queens, NY and
is the mother of two daughters.