Remixing Writing

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It all began in the Sixties when, Deborah Wiles was just a little girl, she explained at the CCIRA Conference last month.

The Cold War was going on, and the country was living in fear. For two weeks straight she would have duck and cover drills multiple times a day. Her uncle built a bomb shelter in the backyard to prepare for the bombing they thought was inevitable.

Even during these times of distress Wiles still enjoyed many things the Sixties are widely known for such as the Beatles and roller skating. Her life in the sixties sounds a lot like a book and now because of Wiles’s love for literature, it is.

The Sixties was a fun yet important time in the 20th century and Wiles wants to share a snippet of that world with today’s youth. She originally started out writing picture books but, as she added on to them, they grew lengthy and slowly developed into a novel.

Her Sixties trilogy is fiction but is based purely on her life. She decided to write it as fiction because she wanted to explore more possibilities and “be able to do things (she) didn’t have the courage to do.”

However, her novels aren’t ordinary realistic fiction, and she calls them “documentary novels” because of their unique sections of poems, songs, newspaper clippings, photographs and more. The inspiration for this type of writing came from “The USA Trilogy” by John Dos Passos.

“It showed me I could do something more with writing,” she says.

Her son, who is now a DJ also has been a big part of Wiles’s writing journey. He used to tell her “Everything is a remix.” When Wiles began her writing she took this to heart, “remixing” layouts and ideas from some of her favorite books and authors.

Her style of writing has been a hit in classrooms across America, and she was a finalist in the 2014 National Book Awards. Wiles’s advice for young writers is to “read anything and everything; it’s gotten me pretty far.”

She writes her books by thinking about what she knows, what she feels, and most importantly what she imagines. “Life is long. Stay present, and tell your story.”

Deborah Wiles has been able to do just that with her documentary novels, giving youth a peek into her life in the Sixties.