Teachers and librarians can be the most effective advocates for diversifying children's and young adult books. When I speak to publishers, they're going to expect me to say that I would love to see more books by Native American authors and African-American authors and Arab-American authors. But when a teacher or librarian says this to publishers, it can have a profound effect.
It would be inappropiate, undignified, at 38, to conduct friendships or love affairs with the ardour or intensity of a 22 year old. Falling in love like that? Writing poetry? Crying at pop songs? Dragging people into photobooths? Taking a whole day to make a compilation tape? Asking people if they wanted to share your bed, just for company? If you quoted Bob Dylan or TS Eliot or, god forbid, Brecht at someone these days they would smile politely and step quietly backwards, and who would blame them? Ridiculous, at 38, to expect a song or book or film to change your life.
The other thing that I got back then - the Parker novels have never had much of anything to do with race. There have been a few black characters here and there, but the first batch of books back then, I got a lot of letters from urban black guys in their 20s, 30s, 40s. What were they seeing that they were reacting to? And I think I finally figured it out - at that time, they were guys who felt very excluded from society, that they had been rejected by the greater American world.
I am flattered that Bob Carter should ask me to launch what I think is a significant new book on climate change. I have developed a very high regard for Bob in the years that I have known him. He has been a terrific and leading voice in combatting the scare mongering that we have all been subjected to on the theory of anthropogenic global warming.
We may live without poetry, music and art; We may live without conscience, and live without heart; We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilized man cannot live without cooks. . . . He may live without books,-what is knowledge but grieving? He may live without hope,-what is hope but deceiving? He may live without love,-what is passion but pining? But where is the man that can live without dining?
Over the years, I've evolved a somewhat heretical but time-and mind-saving approach to books, articles, editorials that deal with weighty matters. More often than not, by beginning at the end and contemplating the conclusions, one can determine if it's worth going through the whole to get there.
I love seeing the bookshops and meeting the booksellers-- booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one-- the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it-- along with first dibs on the new books.
In America there's a tendency to write the same book over and over because that's what sells. So in a way, my success in America has come at the expense of what I do. I haven't sold out, and I haven't taken the popular road to writing a best-selling book. I've really bucked the system. So it was necessary for me not to go and find the easy fans, the ones who want something digestible and fast with a happy ending that they can read over and over again no matter how many different books it is. I had to find fans who really wanted to think. Worldwide they all have that in common.