LCS Visiting Author: Barbara B. Hiller
To write, "you need to be a good reader. Take a book, read it and enjoy it. See if you can imagine what the author went through. When you take apart the author's book, then you can see how you can put together your own book." As a famous author, Ms. Bonnie Bryant Hiller believes to be a good writer, you should be able to be a good reader. She came to LCS on the week of November 12th to share with children her experience as an author of many popular children's series.
As students learning at LCS, we still have a long path lying ahead of us. In writing, we are learning many different techniques to be effective and appealing to the audience. One problem many of us have is to find inspiration. Ms. Hiller rather claims that "inspiration is everywhere. There are story lines everywhere. When you see it, you just need to figure out how to move it, bring it to what you need it to do. Your job as a writer is to take an idea and turn it, twist it, meld it, whoosh it, do whatever you can to make it work for you as a story you want to tell." She found inspiration in the lives of her family, just having fun with it.
Ms. Hiller wrote the entire series of The Saddle Club, which consists of about 110 books, telling the story of 3 best friends who go to a horse riding club together. These books contain the core value of friendship, even stronger than the theme of horses. The Saddle Club is meant more for girls, since the main characters are all girls, and at that time horse riding was more interesting to girls than boys. However, Ms. Hiller did receive some fan mail from boys as well, which proves that boys could attach themselves to the series too.
In fact, it turns out that The Saddle Club has recently been turned into a television series as well. Ms. Hiller expresses her satisfaction concerning how the series remained "true to the spirit." In addition, Ms. Hiller was the author of some very famous novelizations, including Karate Kid, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Honey. She was successful in making the essence of the movies captured in written pages.
A word to capture the 20 minutes of interview with Ms. Hiller would be: passion. Ms. Hiller, in all her responses, was very dedicated to respond fully to every question. She also seemed passionate about her job as a writer. Starting first more towards the publishing side, she always had viewed "authors just sort of beyond me [her]" and respected them greatly. "One day, I [she] had an idea for a book, wrote it and sent it to one of the editors at Scholastic." That was the triggering point of her career as a writer.
Moreover, Ms. Hiller certainly has a few tips for us, as beginners. You should write and keep writing, in different ways. For example, in "short stories of 1 page, then a short story of 5 pages." There are various ways of telling a story, whether it is dancing it, writing it as a short story, or a poem. "Figure out which one is going to work for you, for this particular tale." Another crucial part of writing is making a plan. Ms. Hiller does up to 30 pages of only outlining, explaining in details what happens for each chapter. "If I don't know where I'm going, then there's no point of me getting on the bus."
Ms. Hiller has found herself attached to the characters of her book. "I had spent, at that point, 15 years with those girls, at my desk everyday. I knew them extremely well; we were very close. They were very real to me. They were there all the time: I was with them every single day."
In conclusion, Ms. Hiller stated that she was fascinated by the children's book Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White, which she describes as a "masterpiece". She also admires greatly the author John Irving, especially his book, A Prayer for Owen Meany.
The entire community of LCS thanks Ms. Hiller to have visited. The community was thrilled to speak with such an experienced writer. We would be honored to welcome her again.