Read to Them
The Inside Scoop with Sharon Creech
By Chloe Grant, Read to Them Staff
Buongiorno, or good morning, readers! We’re thinking about the love and warmth that radiates from the kitchen in Granny Torrelli Makes Soup. As we delve deeper into this tender story, we thought it may be nice to have some insight on how this book came to be. In order to learn more about Rosie, Bailey, & Granny Torrelli, we reached out to Sharon Creech. Creech is the author of Granny, and she’s penned several other texts such as Love That Dog, Heartbeat, and The Wanderer. Her newest title, One Time, which hit shelves in September of 2020, is in part about how we become who we are and how we learn to write. We hope you take some time to check it out, and we hope you enjoy our inside scoop with Sharon Creech!
This book is dedicated to your granddaughter, grandmother, and mother. How did your familial experiences, and your relationship with these women influence Granny Torrelli Makes Soup?
I wrote this book when my daughter was expecting her first child and I wondered what it would be like to be a grandmother. Most of my memories of my Italian grandmother and of my mother include being with them in the kitchen, cooking and talking, laughing and sometimes crying. Although I cannot remember exact conversations, what remains is the feeling of being with them, of feeling protected and happy in their presence. I wanted to convey those feelings in the book and also give a sense of my feisty, funny, thoughtful grandmother.
Now, my granddaughter and I also enjoy cooking together. We tell stories, we laugh. I don’t think we’ve cried yet while cooking.
How did you decide that dialogue, both internal and external, would be the main vehicle of telling this story?
Again, because the idea of the story arose from conversations, it seemed appropriate to convey the story that way. I also love to write dialogue. As I write, the story is appearing in my head like a play.
What was your relationship with reading like growing up?
I loved to read but did not have ready access to books outside of school. Instead, I made up stories and plays to act out with neighbors and siblings.
How did you find your way to becoming a writer?
I like that phrasing, of finding one’s ‘way to becoming a writer.’ Although I liked to write and was encouraged in college and graduate school (where I studied literature), I also wanted to teach. I learned so very much during my 15 years of teaching English (literature and writing) in England and Switzerland—I learned from books we studied and from the students themselves. And then there came a time when I felt ready to write my own books, and the stories began to pour out.
What is something you hope families get out of reading Granny Torrelli Makes Soup?
Perhaps they will be eager to embark upon their own cooking-and-talking ventures and feel the comfort and wisdom that can arise from that sharing of time. I hope they appreciate the way in which Granny T and Rosie learn from each other and the way Granny Torrelli’s interest and humor help ease Rosie’s worries.
Read to Them offers a number of your titles, and we’re enchanted that you’ve written three novels entirely as poems. Although poetry isn’t directly present in this text, how did that technique come to be in your other titles, and what draws you to it?
As each idea begins to take shape in my mind, it comes with a certain voice and rhythm. Some stories just feel more spare and rhythmic to me, and those become verse novels. I love the way poetry can express complicated ideas or emotions in perfect nuggets. In Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Rosie’s distinct voice took command right away, and although the story appears to be in regular prose, its frequent use of dialogue and Rosie’s rhythmic way of speaking do lean toward poetry, I think.
Your themes often connect on many layers, what is your writing process like in order to achieve that complexity? Similarly, how do you develop such rich webs of plot?
Hard question to answer! I think some complexity comes from having read widely and written often. When I begin writing a story, I know very little of what will happen or who the characters are. I write in order to discover the story. Ideas and layers emerge as I write, when I begin to see comparisons and contrasts between characters. Some writers like to plan their stories out in detail before they begin writing. I am not one of those. I like to know very little at the beginning so that I am always alert to possibilities instead of being confined to a prearranged plan. Later, in revisions, I might see other layers that could be heightened, or some layers that do not hold their own weight and are therefore cut.
What advice do you have for young readers & writers?
It’s simple, but it works for me: read a lot, write a lot. Experiment. Write short things until you feel ready for something longer. Try different genres and forms: short stories, plays, poetry, fantasy, realism—whatever interests you. Most of all: have fun with it!
Many thanks to Sharon Creech for taking the time to chat with us. We encourage you to take some time to cozy up with Granny Torrelli Makes Soup and get inspired. If you write something you’d like to share, send it our way on the Flipgrid page. Otherwise, we’ll see you on Friday to finish out our first week with Granny!
Stay well & be kind. Ci vediamo la prossima volta (see you next time!)