13 Things We Learned From Judy Blume’s AMA


Last night, the venerable Judy Blume stopped by Reddit to participate in a rather cheerful AMA (Ask Me Anything). Appearing in support of the film adaptation of Tiger Eyes (which is, completely inexplicably, the first-ever big-screen adaptation of a Judy Blume book), Blume shared stories from her childhood and gave her adoring fans a few hints of what’s next. Check out the highlights from the AMA after the jump, and if you’re hungry for more, you can always read the full transcript of the online event — or just go see the movie.

1. She never wanted to write “adult” fiction. “I never thought about writing anything but kids’ books when I started. I identified with kids. I identified with the kid inside me.”

2. That famous turtle-eating scene is nicked (sort of). “Read it in a newspaper. No kidding — a real toddler swallowed a tiny pet turtle. Wrote a picture book about it and got back great rejection letters. ‘Very funny but this would teach small children to swallow turtles.’ Great editor suggested writing a longer book (chapter book) and using that story as the last chapter.”

3. She worships Beverly Cleary. “Beverly Cleary was my inspiration. I adore her books and so did my kids. We were supposed to meet last year but then I got a sinus infection and couldn’t fly.”

4. She knows how to get kids to read. “If you want them to read my books don’t tell them so. Maybe just leave around a paperback with a new cover and say, ‘I’m not sure you’re ready for that.'”

5. Margaret is a little bit Judy. What inspired you to write Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret? “I remember this — I wanted to let go and write what I knew to be true about 6th grade. Much of the character of Margaret is based on me at that age but the story and her family is fiction.” … But Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is even more so. “Sally J is my most autobiographical book.”

6. She’s working on a new novel! “I’m writing a novel now and have no idea who the audience will be. Don’t like thinking in terms of categories. There are both adult and teen characters. It takes place in the (gasp!) 1950s.”

7. She has natural talent. “I’ve no idea how writing works. My son says I’m the least analytical person he’s ever met. I think I’m just an instinctual writer. It comes and I go with it. It’s from some other part of the brain. I’m just glad it’s still coming…”

8. She’s baffled by the censors. “I’ve never figured out why Tiger Eyes was challenged so often. You wouldn’t have learned anything about sex from that book (sorry) but you might have seen how one girl figures out how to move on after her father’s death.”

9. Her favorite books growing up were… “The Betsy-Tacy books by Maude Hart Lovelace. Still wonderful books.”

10. She was a virginal teenager. “I’m a 50’s girl. We were supposed to be virgins when we married. I guess not everyone was because three girls in my high school class were pregnant at graduation. And that’s what kept me and my friends official virgins — fear of unwanted pregnancy. We were sexual without intercourse. Sometimes I wish kids would go back to that.”

11. She didn’t always want to be a writer. “Had no idea it was even possible to grow up to write books. I wanted to be a cowgirl, an actress, or a detective.”

12. Right now, she’s reading… “Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings.”

13. She wants to keep her most famous book off the big screen. “I don’t think ‘Margaret’ should be a movie. But, hey — if the right girl came along who knows?”