I always wrote. When I was a kid I kept a journal as a way to deal with some pretty terrible school experiences. I didn’t always plan to be a YA writer though. When I started writing about my experiences with ADHD, I quickly realized this was a YA story.
Your book deals with two characters with learning difference which is awesome and something we don’t see enough of in YA. What led you to write this book about a girl with ADHD and a boy with Autism?
I’m ADHD and dyslexic, and I really wanted to write a novel about my experiences. The romance came later, but I was intrigued by the idea of taking two Neuro-divergent characters who are completely different, and yet understand each other.
What was the writing process like for you from taking this from an idea to print?
Like, a million drafts. I queried with an earlier version, sent out fulls and partials, and realized from the rejections that I’d written half of a good novel. I spent almost two years writing the other half.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Hmmmmm… how to say this without spoilers. My favorite was the scene where she texts Abelard while she’s waiting in Dr. Brainguy’s office. I cried while writing that scene. I still cry when I reread it. The idea that Lily does something impulsive and destructive in the interest of trying to do the right thing, is something, as an ADHD person, I struggle with.
I’m currently in my final round of editing on my novel before I intend to query. What advice do you have for authors who are about to dip their toes into publishing?
Be prepared for the fact that this probably isn’t your final draft. I had over forty beta readers, a Pitchwars mentor, a revision for my agent, and my editor still had extensive notes. If you believe in a project, you should commit to revising as many times as is necessary.
I love Lily’s voice. She draws the reader in and makes them understand she’s far from careless even if it may appear that way sometimes. From my own experience having been diagnosed with dyslexia since the third grade and a terrible speller, getting labeled thoughtless or careless is a common reality for kids with learning differences. Do you have any ideas about how educators and others can better understand how hard students with learning differences are trying?
I could write an entire book on this subject alone! When I was writing The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily, I realized that teachers and librarians would be reading this book too. Teachers have the most complex and difficult job in the world, and they have to do it while being vilified by certain segments of our government, who believe that teaching is a low skill, entry level job. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the novel, Lily’s 504 accommodations get lost in the system (this happened to my daughter!). Still, there are teachers in her school who have the skill and education to understand who Lily is as a learner, even without special instructions. We need to foster this kind of approach, and work to change the minds of the teacher who toss around abusive words like “thoughtless” or “careless”.
I noticed you have a new project coming up. What is this new book about?
I’m writing a book about a girl named Clementine. Her mother goes to a conference and leaves Clementine to care from her baby brother, Buddy. When the mother doesn’t return Clementine has to confront not only the daily struggles of taking care of a baby, but also her family history, her mother’s mental illness, and the potential loss of her historic house.
I loved getting to hear about Creedle's process with her book as well as her thoughts on learning difference. I wanted to take a moment to spotlight what she suggested we could do going forward to help promote literacy with dyslexics as Americans, government officials, and teachers. I found her words to be inspiring dead on.
"We could screen every child who comes into the school system, and place the 7 to 11 percent of dyslexic student in an intensive remediation when it matters— before students fall behind, and become discouraged. We could significantly change the educational outcomes for ten percent of all students. This is huge!
Only we don’t. Why? Because it’s expensive. State legislatures don’t want to pay for it.
To my mind, this is educational mal-practice. If a doctor knew how to save a patient’s life, but did nothing because the patient was under-insured, they would have their license to practice medicine revoked.
To give you a sense of the scale of this crisis: ten percent of students are dyslexic or in some other way reading impaired. Over half the longterm inmates in prison have difficulty reading, or are functionally illiterate.
We incarcerate more people than any nation on earth. Imagine we funneled off part of our prison budget and directed it towards reading intervention."