Author Paul Fleischman "Seedfolks" Interview (raw and uncut)





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Published on Aug 30, 2010

Allen Public Library Interview April 2009 (uncut)

Paul Fleischman creates stories out of the most unlikely materials: forgotten fragments of history, scrapbooks and obscure articles. Fleischman's subject matter ranges from the insect world to a bloody U.S. Civil War battle, the limitations of medicine, or a class trip that is transformed into a time-travel expedition. His works include novels, picture books, poems and short stories. Cooki Slone in Children's Books and Their Creators, states, "His stylistic range is as varied as is his choice of format."

Born in Monterey, California, in 1952, Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, the son of well-known children's author Sid Fleischman. "Growing up hearing the wonderful works of my father ... read aloud as they rolled out of the typewriter, I was exposed to books," Fleischman recalled in School Library Journal, "but was not a reader and certainly had no plans to be a writer."

In his 1989 Newbery acceptance speech, Fleischman states, "I write only a page or so a day; after several books it dawned on me that this was because I was writing prose that scanned, something that makes for slow progress." His scanned prose, or verse-like writing with rhythm, meter, and occasional internal rhyme, is as close as Fleischman feels he can get to composing. Raymond E. Houser noted in Voice of Youth Advocates that his novel Saturnalia "will challenge the most mature reader with its vocabulary and symbolic approach."

In Seedfolks, Fleishman utilizes a multi-faceted narrative voice, representing both genders, varying ages and ethnicities. Publishers Weekly describes Seedfolks as, "arraying voices like threads on a loom; the novel weaves a seamless tale of the advent of a garden in urban Cleveland and how it unites a community." Susan Dove Lempke, Booklist, concluded that the "characters' vitality and the sharply delineated details of the neighborhood makes Seedfolks ... not merely an exercise in craftsmanship or morality, but an engaging, entertaining novel."

When Fleischman was asked to assess current literary trends. Fleischman notes with dismay, "There is a trend toward easy words with simple sentence structure. Television scripts are written with simplicity as a goal. It is like an artist painting with two colors on the palate." When asked what Fleischman hopes his Allen audience will gain from his appearance, he responds rhetorically, "I have no agenda, what do they hope to gain?"

Consequently, this question was posed to ALLen Reads participants. Donna Vanous responds, "to help us think beyond the covers." ALLen Reads Chairperson Jane Bennett declares, "Paul Fleishman has already been in contact with some of the students in AISD. He is excited about their involvement with his book and their creativity in creating their own stories, painting portraits, taking photographs and writing a play. There is anticipation on both sides about meeting and talking during his visit."


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