Chances are you probably learned more about the birds and the bees from Judy Blume than from your junior high Sex Ed class (or your parents). Blume’s novels have always been a subject of controversy regarding age-appropriate literature, but there's no one else teens would rather have introduce and guide them through the traumatic trials of menstruation (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret), divorce (Just as Long as We’re Together), bullying (Blubber), and of course, sex (Forever). Blume’s work even inspired the publication of an essay anthology, Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, in which 24 notable female authors rave about the Blume's positive effect on their tortured teenaged souls.
On Monday night, Blume hosted a reddit AMA in order to promote the recently-released film adaptation of her 1981 classic, Tiger Eyes. Redditors swarmed to sing the author’s praises, bursting with euphoric exclamations of “You’re my hero!” and “I’ve been wanting to meet you since I was nine!” (We feel you.) Blume responded to questions on a variety of topics, including a peek at her new novel, tips for writing, and her fantasy friendship with Beverly Cleary:
Jude Blume: The Betsy-Tacy books by Maude Hart Lovelace. Still wonderful books.
JB: Had no idea it was even possible to grow up to write books. I wanted to be a cowgirl, an actress, or a detective.
JB: I never thought about writing anything but kids' books when I started. I identified with kids. I identified with the kid inside me.
JB: I wanted to let go and write what I knew to be true about sixth grade. Much of the character of Margaret is based on me at that age, but the story and her family is fiction.
JB: My readers' loyalty.
Dangerous to think about impact. Makes it too scary to get into that little room and write.
JB: Don't believe in writer's block. There are good days and not so good days. I get up and do something else knowing that tomorrow it will come. And if it doesn't, then it's wrong, and I have to move on.
JB: Tips for writers -- read everything you write aloud and really listen. You'll edit like crazy! Also, I tell kids, start on the day something different happens.
JB: I wish! 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.
JB: I was browsing in my parents' bookshelves by the time I was 12. There were no YA books then. My parents thought reading was a good thing. They weren't afraid of what I was reading. I didn't get it all but it satisfied my curiosity about the grownup world.
JB: 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.
JB: Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings.
JB: Wait -- is puberty a touchy subject? It happened to me (after a long wait). I think it pretty much happens to everyone.
Images: Getty Images, Imgur.