When I was a kid, I made up stories and went door-to-door selling recitations for a nickel. I found out that it’s a tough way to make a living. I ended up doing it anyway, including a twenty-year stint writing television movies. One of them, an adaptation of E. L. Konigsburg’s Father’s Arcane Daughter (the movie was called Caroline?), convinced me I was writing for the wrong crowd. I discovered that I saw and felt the world most clearly through the heart and mind of the twelve-year-old inside me. I decided to write for people my own age. When I turned sixty, I started writing novels about twelve-year-old boys. The task now is to hurry and get them down while I still remember the alphabet.
I wrote Finding Stinko because I wanted kids to read about other children who live a different life. In this case, it’s a boy who wants to save himself, who ends up on the streets, who finds his lost voice through a discarded wreck of a ventriloquist’s dummy he names Stinko, who finds friendship, loyalty, and finally, hope. He’s searching for justice. So am I.
I was brought up in New York City and Wickford, Rhode Island. I went to high school in Manhattan and college in Rhode Island, where I met my wife, to whom, much to my good fortune, I am still married.
When I was a boy, I saw injustice and hypocrisy pretty much everywhere I looked. I still do. The battle must still be waged. Windmills must still be tilted at, or the power of romance and imagination will disappear, and with them the means to discover our true natures. Laughter cures most things, hope triumphs over despair, imagination is more important than information, love is more powerful than death. These are the fires we must keep burning. These are the ideas that matter to me. They’re what I write about. My hope is that they matter to the people I write for. And that my best work is good enough. That’s the struggle. And the reward.
Many years ago, my father sent me a postcard with the picture of a wastebasket on it. Beneath the basket were the words: "A writer’s toughest critic is himself." I still have the card, frayed and faded now from its years of service. It is taped to a spot where I see it when I work.
Michael de Guzman was brought up in New York City and Wickford, Rhode Island. He went to high school in Manhattan and college in Rhode Island, where he met his wife, to whom, he says much to his good fortune, he is still married. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington.
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