The idea for The School Story grew from a simple question I've often been asked by kids: "If a kid like me wrote a book, could it get published?"
I always answer that question by saying, yes, it's certainly possible. Publishers don't care how old a writer is. They only care how well a person writes and whether the story is appealing. With that much said, it's also important to remember that if a young person sends a manuscript to a publisher, it will be looked at side by side with the work being sent by all the other authors and writers, some of whom may have been working on their writing and storytelling skills for decades. So there is an element of competition. Still, if work is done well, someone will notice — though perhaps not right away.
After I wrote Frindle, the publisher of that book asked me to write more school stories - books about kids and teachers and the things that happen in and around school. So I wrote The Landry News and The Janitor's Boy, and the publisher asked me to keep it up. So I needed another idea. And I hit on that notion of an exceptionally talented young writer who decides that she could write a school story. She shares her writing with her best friend, who immediately says, "This is great. This should be published!" And the novel was off and running.
I started out thinking The School Story was about a young author getting her work published. But I gradually realized that the book is also about friendship and faith and determination, and about the relationship between dads and daughters. That's one of the things I enjoy most in the writing process — discovering what a book is really about.