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Louis is best known for the award-winning Holes, which has also been made into a major film.
More about Louis: “I was born in East Meadow, New York on March 20, 1954 and lived there until third grade. My dad worked on the 78th floor of the Empire State Building, and maybe that somehow inspired Wayside School, who knows?
I enjoyed school and was a good student, but it wasn’t until high school that I really became an avid reader. J.D. Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut were the authors who first inspired me. Some of my other favorite authors include E.L. Doctorow, Margaret Atwood, E.B White, Richard Price and Kazuo Ishiguro.
After high school, I attended Antioch College in Ohio. My father died during my first semester, and I returned to California to be near my mother.
I returned to college, this time to the University of California at Berkeley where I majored in Economics. On campus one day, I saw the unlikely sight of an elementary school girl handing out flyers. I took one from her. It said: “Help. We need teachers aides at our school. Earn three units of credit.” I thought it over and decided it was a pretty good deal.
Besides helping out in a classroom, I also became the Noontime Supervisor, or “Louis the Yard Teacher” as I was known to the kids. It became my favorite college class, and a life changing experience.
When I graduated 1n 1976 I decided to try to write a children’s book, which eventually became Sideways Stories From Wayside School. All the kids at Wayside School were based on the kids I knew at Hillside.
It took me about nine months to write the book. I wrote in the evenings. In the daytime I had a job at a sweater warehouse in Connecticut. After about a year, I was fired (my enthusiasm for sweaters was insufficient), and I decided to go to law school. Sideways Stories from Wayside School was accepted by a publisher during my first week at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
I finished law school, graduating in 1980, passed the bar exam (which was required to practice law) and then did part-time legal work as I continued to write children’s books. It wasn’t until 1989 that my books began selling well enough that I was finally able to stop practicing law and devote myself fully to writing.
My wife Carla was a counselor at an elementary school when I first met her. She was the inspiration for the counselor in There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom. We were married in 1985. Our daughter, Sherre, was born in 1987. We live in Austin, Texas along with our dog, Watson.”
Louis has won many awards including the 1999 Newbery and Caldecott awards – the most prestigious American awards in children’s literature for Holes.
Interview with Louis Sachar
What made you decide to become a writer?
I think from reading. My favourite authors became my heroes, and I wanted to be like them.
How do get the ideas for all the silly things that go on at Wayside School?
I sit at my desk and I just try to think. It may be because the life of a writer is somewhat boring, sitting alone in a room, in front of a computer screen. It forces my mind to come up with crazy ideas.
Would you ever like to write a scary book?
I think it would be fun to write a scary book. I may write one someday.
Who are your favourite characters from your books?
I’ve got a lot of favourite characters. It’s interesting because when I write and work on a book for a year or so, the characters become very real to me. Some of my favourite characters are Bradley from There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, Angeline from Someday Angeline and Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes, Kate Barlow from Holes, and Louis from the Wayside School stories (he’s based on me).
Are the things that happen in your books things that happened to you?
No, but I try to draw on the feelings I had as a child, or those that I still have, and capture those same feelings in the characters in my books, but under different circumstances.
What is your favourite thing about writing?
I think it’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment that I get from starting with nothing, and somehow creating a whole story and setting and characters.
What’s the worst part about writing?
Most days, it just feels like I’m not accomplishing much. I write for about two hours a day, and most of it just seems like a waste of time. It amazes me how after a year, all those wasted days somehow add up to something. Another thing I don’t like is that it’s a very solitary profession. I think it would be nice sometimes to go to an office and see people every day, instead of just sitting in my room.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading the most?
I like to read different kinds of books. It mostly depends on the authors. When I find an author I like, I usually read everything that author has written.