Full Circle with David Almond

What follows is my email correspondence with amazing author and my inspiration, David Almond. David’s letter to me is reprinted with permission:

Dear David,

It’s a thrill to be writing you. My editor Michelle Poploff gave me your email address, because she knows the role you played in launching my career. That might sound funny since you don’t know me, but please let me explain.

Eight years ago, I was teaching language arts and social studies in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was my first year teaching. All the sixth-grade classes in the town were invited to hear you speak at the Coolidge Corner Theater. To prepare, we read Skellig aloud. I immediately fell in love with your book: the characters, the language, the depth, the mystery, the poetry…everything. What was most exciting to me was how you fearlessly challenge young readers to grapple with essential questions of life and death.

When I heard you speak, I was riveted, and all of a sudden, I was struck with the idea that I was going to attempt to write a novel for young readers too. I had no idea whatA Thousand Never Evers my book would be about but I wanted to try. As soon as I got home from school that afternoon, I got to work.

Little did I know how hard—or exhilarating—it would be….But to make a long story short, my book A Thousand Never Evers was published by Delacorte this June, all these years after I heard you speak. And now, having landed with the same wonderful publisher, I have this incredible opportunity to write to you and thank you for being such an inspiration both on and off the page.

Coolidge Corner TheaterAnd just to finish the full-circle effect of this true story, I want to let you know that I’ll be speaking to all the sixth grade students in Brookline at the Coolidge Corner Theater this spring.

Thank you so much. I am a true fan and most grateful for you and your work!


Shana Burg

Hello, Shana,

It’s great to hear from you. Thank you so much for writing and telling me your story. I remember the dayDavid Almond at Coolidge Corner Theatre very well (8 years ago? 9?). I had a wonderful time there, and it was great to have such a large and appreciative audience. And it’s marvellous to know that the day had such an effect on you–and that the story goes full circle and you will be speaking at Coolidge yourself. Maybe there’ll be someone in your audience who rushes home and starts to write.

Congratulations on A Thousand Never Evers! And on having it published by the wonderful Delacorte. I’d love to have a copy. I wonder if Michelle would send me one. Are you working on a new book?

Jackdaw SummerThe Skellig opera, music by the wonderful American composer, Tod Machover, premiered at the Sage Gateshead in November. It drew big enthusiastic audiences and great reviews. Plans are afoot to bring it to USA at some point. Jackdaw Summer was published in the same month (November) and again has had great reviews. It’ll be published in USA in Fall 09.

The movie of Skellig comes out in the spring (with Tim Roth as Skellig), first on Sky TV, then into cinemas. Next year also brings a UK tour of the Skellig play. The Savage, a collaboration with the visionary artist Dave McKean, is now out in the USA. I’m underway with a new novel, and also writing short stories.

Hard and exhilarating. Yes, that’s what it’s like. Congratulations again. I’m sure our paths will cross some time when I’m over in the USA.

All the best,


Posted in Educators, Shana's Posts, Writing on 12/22/2008 09:49 am

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