Literary Birthday – 5 April – Richard Peck

Richard Peck was born 5 April 1934 and died 23 May 2018.

“I read because one life isn’t enough, and in the page of a book I can be anybody;
I read because the words that build the story become mine, to build my life;
I read not for happy endings but for new beginnings; I’m just beginning myself, and I wouldn’t mind a map;
I read because I have friends who don’t, and young though they are, they’re beginning to run out of material;
I read because every journey begins at the library, and it’s time for me to start packing;
I read because one of these days I’m going to get out of this town, and I’m going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready.”


  1. Humour is anger that was sent to finishing school.
  2. We don’t write what we know. We write what we wonder about.
  3. When I get a page exactly the way I want it, and that will be in the eighth or 10th version, I go back and take out 20 words. And then when I feel I’ve pared it to the bone, and can’t pare it any more, then I’ve got five more words to go. And they’re always there for the paring. There are no first-draft sentences in any of my work.
  4. Fiction isn’t what ‘was’. It’s ‘what if?’.
  5. We write by the light of every story we have ever read.
  6. In the end, I take the first chapter I’ve written and throw it away. The first chapter has to have all the issues, themes, hints and clues laid in, but I don’t know all of that until the end. I always enjoy writing that first chapter last.
  7. Nobody but a reader becomes a writer.
  8. The only way you can write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you.

Richard Peck was an American novelist known for his contributions to modern young adult literature. He was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2001 for his novel A Year Down Yonder.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 5th April 2016