• Henry Holt and Co.
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And So It Goes

Listen: Charles J. Shields on writing And So It Goes (Duration: 4:38)
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Quick Facts about Charles J. Shields

Charles J. Shields, author of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper LeeCharles J. Shields is the author of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, the highly acclaimed, bestselling biography of Harper Lee, and I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). He grew up in the Midwest and taught in a rural school in central Illinois for several years. He has been a reporter for public radio, a journalist, and the author of nonfiction books for young people. He and his wife live near Charlottesville, Virginia. Visit Charles J. Shields's website at www.CharlesJShields.com.

Where are you from?
I spent most of my life in Chicago. Currently, I live in Virginia.

Who are your favorite writers?
Truman Capote, Christopher Hitchens, James Boswell, Claire Tomalin

Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
I tend to read classics because I read slowly and I analyze what the author is doing as I read. Style and structure are everything to me.

What are your hobbies and outside interests?
I read a great deal of history. Other than that my interests are literary criticism, culture, psychology, science, engineering, technology, math, and robotics. I'm a generalist. I work on tabletop projects related to science, technology and robotics, too.

What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
"Do it at the time."—my father

What is your favorite quote?
"The great goal in life is to take your destiny out of the hands of others."—mine

What is the question most commonly asked by your readers?  What is the answer?
Q: How does someone become a writer?
A: Writing is a craft that can be learned like anything else. Practice, and finding models you admire are the keys.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a three-page, stapled booklet: "The Life of the Three Stooges," written when I was nine. My motives then were the same as they are now: to know more about people who interest me.

Where do you write?
I have a room in my home, a study, where all my books and resources are. I work there every day for six to eight hours.