Wendy, what was your inspiration for writing ALL WE HAVE LEFT?
It was when I realized that neither of my children were alive on 9/11 that I decided that I wanted to write this book—for them, and for all the children who were either not yet born, or too young to remember. Ask any adult where they were on 9/11, and they will not only know, but they will have a story to share. Many of them will say that they knew that the world had changed. Our children today will never know what is was like before 9/11, but through this story, I hope I can show what that day meant to the world.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
It’s so important to get the big things right when you are writing historical fiction, but it is the small, prosaic details that make the story come alive for your readers. What I love about this story is not one particular scene, but rather the small details: the slick feel of sweat on the handrails from the thousands of office workers filing down the stairs inside the towers; the cardboard prayer mats in the 106th stairwell used by the Muslim staff of Windows on the World; the mosaic inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum of almost three thousand shades of blue, reflecting the diversity of experiences on that day.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
For those seeking other fiction books about 9/11, there are several excellent soon-to-be or newly-released books on the subject. Gae Polisner has written a wonderful story called THE MEMORY OF THINGS for YA readers, and I also highly recommend Nora Raleigh Baskin’s NINE, TEN for middle grade readers.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
I’m not sure I would have had the courage to write this book without the encouragement of my editor, Mary Kate Castellani. It was a big jump for me as an author—not only was I writing about a big, historical event, but I was also writing from a Muslim first-person viewpoint. Either of these alone would have been intimidating enough, but together it sometimes seemed insurmountable. In the end, this is the hardest book I have ever written, but also the one of which I am the most proud. It taught me to have faith in myself, and in my writing gifts, and to not be afraid to make that jump.
ABOUT THE BOOK
All We Have Left
by Wendy Mills
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
A haunting and heart-wrenching story of two girls, two time periods, and the one event that changed their lives--and the world--forever.
Interweaving stories from past and present, All We Have Left follows two girls, Alia and Jesse, who discover that hatred and love have the power to reverberate into the future.
Then: Alia is a proud Muslim, even if it makes high school more difficult. Grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia decides to confront her father at his Manhattan office, putting her in danger she never expected. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside. There she meets a boy who risks everything for her.
Now: Jesse is haunted by the past. Ever since her brother died in the September 11th attacks, her dad's rage and grief has overshadowed their lives. When one hate-fueled decision turns Jesse's life upside down, the only way to make amends is to face the past and find out the truth of her brother's last day.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
WENDY MILLS was born on the edge of the water and has never left it. She now lives with her family on a small island off the southwest coast of Florida, where she spends her time writing, finding lost socks, and dodging hurricanes. Positively Beautiful is her first young adult novel.
Have you had a chance to read ALL WE HAVE LEFT yet? Have you written a historical event? Do you use small details to help the scenes come alive?
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