Love Creek students Zoom with bestselling author

Sharon M. Draper reads from mystery books, reveals inspiration
February 11, 2021

Ice cream is the perfect solution for writer’s block, bestselling author Sharon M. Draper told aspiring novelists at Love Creek Elementary School.

“I get butter pecan ice cream,” she said. “Works every time.”

Draper joined remote and in-person fourth-graders during a Feb. 8 Zoom session as they prepared to study the mystery genre. 

The author of 35 books, Draper is known for the Clubhouse Mysteries series, in which characters Ziggy, Rashawn, Jerome and Rico go on missions to solve mysteries. Draper was the 1997 National Teacher of the Year and is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for books about the young and adolescent African American experience. 

Draper read excerpts from her mystery series and told students she spent the pandemic writing a new book, set to be published soon. When asked about the writing process, she told students sometimes she doesn’t know how to solve the mystery; rather, she decides as she’s writing.

“That’s part of the fun of it,” she said.

A lot of research goes into each book to make sure they’re realistic, Draper said. One book takes more than a year to write, and then it goes through multiple rewrites and revisions until it’s complete, she said. She could not name which of her books is her favorite.

“That’s like asking me who’s your favorite child?” she smiled.

Draper said she is inspired to write every day by reading other authors’ books, listening to music or going to the beach. 

“Things that make me happy are my inspiration,” she said.

Before logging off, Draper gave students and teachers an assignment.

“I want you, because you lived through 2020 and 2021, to write a journal of what it was like to grow up during a pandemic, so when you grow up, you can show it to your kids,” she said. “It is historical and important, and it’s your life, so write it down.”

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