Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Clifford the Big Red Dog Creator, Norman Bridwell, Passes at 86

I don't know about y'all, but I always loved Clifford the Big Red Dog. He was awesome--the size of a house but the gentleness of a mouse! (Why, yes, I did just make that silly phrase up just now. :-p) The Clifford books were excellent books for me--and remain to be for others--to not only practice reading but to get me interested in the stories being told between the covers. That's why it saddens me today to hear that Norman Bridwell, the Clifford book illustrator and creator, has passed away at 86.

The Boston Globe posted a lovely article about Bridwell and his Clifford-driven endeavors online today:

To hear Norman Bridwell tell the story — and hundreds of millions of children around the world have read his tales for more than 50 years — Clifford the Big Red Dog almost never came to be. 
Mr. Bridwell was living in New York City in the early 1960s with his wife and their new baby, and money was short. He was working as a commercial artist when his wife, Norma, suggested he try his hand at illustrating children’s books. 
“I made some samples and took them to eight or 10 publishers and was rejected by every one,” he told the Globe in 2004. “One young editor said, ‘You’re not very good. No one’s going to buy your artwork. Why don’t you try a story, and if someone buys it, then you could do the art.’ She pointed to a sample painting, of a little girl and a big red dog, and said, ‘Maybe this could be a story.’ ” 
At home, he wrote the first Clifford story, making the title character even bigger. As for the dog’s color, “it was red because I happened to have red paint on the drawing table that night,” he said in 2004. 
After the manuscript sat for a while in the slush pile of one publisher, a freelance manuscript reader handed it off it to Scholastic books, which offered Mr. Bridwell a $1,000 advance for the story and $875 for the art. 
That first story grew into an empire of more than 150 titles, 129 million books in 13 languages, a popular PBS TV series, and an ever-expanding list of merchandise. Mr. Bridwell, so modest about his creation that he told the Globe he had “never been able to figure out why it was so popular,” died Friday in Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, after a fall in his Edgartown home, the Associated Press reported. He was 86. 
“A lot of people were Clifford fans, and that makes them Norman fans, too,” his wife told the AP. 
The late actor John Ritter lent his voice to the PBS “Clifford” series, which debuted in 2000. The Clifford character also has been featured in a movie, popup books, and coloring books, as plush toys and beverage napkins, in postcards and puzzles, and as dinnerware and underwear. 
The smallest in a litter of puppies, Clifford grows to more than 25 feet tall and is cared for by Emily Elizabeth, a character named for Mr. Bridwell’s daughter, who was an infant when he wrote the first book. The book version of Emily narrates the stories, in which she and Clifford go about rather ordinary family activities that are complicated by his size. 
“The magic of the character and stories Norman created with Clifford is that children can see themselves in this big dog who tries very hard to be good, but is somewhat clumsy and always bumping into things and making mistakes,” Dick Robinson, chairman, president, and chief executive of Scholastic, said in the company’s statement announcing Mr. Bridwell’s death. “What comforts the reader is that Clifford is always forgiven by Emily Elizabeth, who loves him unconditionally.” 
Mr. Bridwell thought Clifford’s mistakes made him all the more appealing and hoped the books would help young readers become more forgiving. Though he brushed off suggestions that he based Clifford on himself, his wife thought otherwise. 
“He’s never been able to recognize that,” she said in an interview with the AP a few years ago. “Clifford tries to do the right thing, Norman tries to do the right thing, and he makes a mess of it. But he’s the most lovable grown-up man. He’s just a nice guy.” 
Their daughter, Emily Elizabeth Bridwell Merz of Carlisle, told the Globe in 2004 that “the whole spirit of Clifford is born out of my father’s sense of humor, which I always appreciated while growing up. To me, Clifford is sort of an extension of my Dad, and for that I have a great deal of love for the character.” 
Born in Kokomo, Ind., Mr. Bridwell took to drawing at an early age. 
“I was not good at sports and my high school shop teacher, after a few days of class, took my tools away, telling me, ‘Here’s a pad of paper instead. You seem to like to draw: stick to that,’ ” he said for his biography on the Scholastic website. 
Aspiring to be a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, he studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis before moving to New York City, where he took classes at Cooper Union. 
In New York, he met Norma Howard, who also was from Indiana, and they married. 
When Mr. Bridwell wrote the first Clifford story, he initially called the title character Tiny, a name his wife found too obvious for a 25-foot-tall dog. She suggested Clifford, “after an imaginary friend from her childhood,” Mr. Bridwell said in his Scholastic biography. 
Norma also bound the manuscript with a red gingham cover before they sent it to a publisher. 
“A lady called from Scholastic and said, ‘We have a book here called Clifford, and we’d like to publish it.’ I was completely stunned. It was a bad year, and we needed something. We had a new baby,” Mr. Bridwell recalled in 2004, adding that he “asked them, ‘If it doesn’t sell, do I have to give back the advance?’ ” 
He was so sure lightning might not strike twice that according to his Scholastic biography, he told his wife: “Now don’t count on there being any more. This one is just a fluke. I don’t know if there will ever be another one.’ ” 
Dozens of books and decades after that initial sale, Mr. Bridwell had not tired of finding new adventures for Clifford or of creating books for children. 
“I’m very thankful,” he said in the 2004 Globe interview. “I love the kids. You couldn’t think of a better audience to write for.” 
The Bridwell family moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1969, keeping a place on Beacon Hill as well. 
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Bridwell leaves a son, Timothy, and three grandchildren. Mr. Bridwell’s wife told the AP that a public service will be announced, probably next year. 
Scholastic announced that before his death, Mr. Bridwell completed two Clifford books that will be released in 2015: “Clifford Goes to Kindergarten” and “Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah.” 
When meeting with his young readers, Mr. Bridwell drew from his own experience of having manuscripts rejected to encourage children to persevere: “You might do a drawing today that you think is nice, and you show it to the other kids but they don’t like it, or the teacher won’t put it up. But don’t let that discourage you. That’s just today. You never know what you are going to do tomorrow.” 
Even after filling shelves around the world with Clifford books, Mr. Bridwell was matter-of-fact about how he wrote and illustrated each one. 
“A woman once asked me about my process in writing it,” he said in the 2004 Globe interview, “and I said, ‘No process at all. He just seems like the kind of dog it would be fun to own.’ ” 
Read the original piece HERE

Thank you, Mr. Bridwell for your inspiring tales and characters. Rest in peace. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

INSURGENT Trailer Released by Lionsgate

Oh man. Lionsgate Entertainment released the official Insurgent trailer today, and I cannot wait 'til this one hits theaters on March 20, 2015 (which is actually closer than it seems, and for once that thought is exciting! LOL).

Insurgent is the second installment of the Divergent series, and this sequel looks even more intense and action-packed than the first. Such a great series to be adapted for the silver screen!



Friday, December 5, 2014

Hmm...What to Do With Those Letters You Never Sent...

I recently found out that a dear friend of mine, Heather Winter, is working on a very cool nonfiction Letters I Never Sent will be a compilation of letters from people throughout the world, as well as from Heather herself, that were written in the heat of a moment, when wrapped up in the deepest emotions we possess as humans. Now this is a nonfiction book I can get behind for so many reasons.
book project. While I'm mostly a fiction gal, there are some NF titles that really speak to me and pull me in.

Heather and I met online in a Canadian Forces military wives and girlfriends chat room (it sounds random, I know, but I was once intending to marry a CF member LOL Oh life... How you change...), and we instantly hit it off. Years later we are still in touch, and hopefully we will soon meet in person for the very first time. *squee!*

Our friendship has always been filled with shared emotional experiences and helping one another not feel so alone. I was very lucky to have stumbled across her that day so long ago. And with her new project, people everywhere will be able to have that very same feeling, simply from reading a letter than someone wrote so purely from the heart and without censure.

She is currently collecting submissions to be included in the book on a variety of topics, so if you have a letter you'd like to contribute, please e-mail her. She would be thrilled to read your work. All letters will be anonymous unless otherwise requested.

Check out the project's website HERE and consider getting involved! Not only is it a great way to get your words out there and potentially support a stranger who is going through similar experiences as you have but it is sure to be an excellent study of human nature as a whole.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Some Hunger Games Silliness

Hello, dear readers. I have returned! Well, sort of. I'll be in and out, as my recovery from spine surgery has been rougher than anticipated. :( But I thought I'd poke my head out this morning with something silly and Hunger Games related to bring us back full circle to when I went on hiatus.

What I'm about to show you is not a trailer. It is not an interview. Instead, it is a silly parody. Or three, to be exact. According to GalleyCat, the sketch comedy group Studio C has created three HG song parodies to help create buzz for the upcoming film release of Mockingjay: Part I.

First, we have my personal favorite..."Peeta's song."




Then of course, "Katniss' Song"... (I really want to correct that possessive soooo bad. *holds back editing fingers*)




And finally, "Gale's Song."





While all three of these parodies are funny in their own ways, I've got to say the I'm not a fan of "Gale's Song" really at all. I also won't lie--I didn't even listen to the whole thing. That might be because I don't really like Gale, but who knows. :-p 

The one about Katniss cracked me up at first, and I was like, Oooh this is going to be good, but then it bummed me out that Studio C only focused on the love triangle part of the character's journey. There is so much other stuff in there to play off, too! Though, maybe it's not kosher to parody children massacring one another... Hmmm... LOL 

"Peeta's Song," however, I adored. Everything about it made me laugh on a day where laughter was much needed. I hope these videos do the same for you!

What do YOU think of these videos? 

Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Official Trailer Released for Mockingjay Part I

How perfect that the day before I go in for spine surgery (I will be taking a hiatus from the blog for a couple of weeks, as a result, just FYI!) that I get to share something fun with y'all. The new MockingJay trailer!! Wooooo!!!!

Entertainment Weekly shares more:

A full trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 is finally here, and it offers a look at the war-torn land Panem has become as well as a poor, brainwashed Peeta, now acting as a mouthpiece for President Snow. 
In the trailer, Haymitch explains to Katniss that Peeta is the Capitol’s weapon, just like she is the rebels’. Katniss, however, uses Peeta’s plight as an ultimatum. “You will rescue Peeta at the earliest opportunity, or you will find another Mockingjay,” Katniss tells Julianne Moore’s President Alma Coin and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. 
The trailer also gives fleeting glimpses at characters old and new, including Natalie Dormer’s Cressida. Effie Trinket pins a mockingjay pendant on Katniss’s armor, Gale shows off his talent with a bow and arrow, and Finnick gives Katniss a worried glance. It all ends with Katniss shooting down a plane with her arrow. We’ve always known she has great aim.


See original post HERE

CANNOT WAIT.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Television's Most Famous Bully Pens Kids' Book on Bullying

It's no surprise that nearly three years ago Jane Lynch's memoir Happy Accidents hit the New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists, among others. Her candid and surprisingly relatable story was one every Glee fan was dying to get their hands on (myself included. It was amazing, FYI. I listened on audiobook). 

Now, the comedic actress who plays television's most famous bully, Sue Sylvester, has written a children's book on bullying: Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean. (And yes, she did so after admitting that she herself was once a bully.)

I've gotta say, I'm pretty excited to take a look at this one when it pubs later this month (9/23) from Random House Books for Young Readers. BuzzFeed tells us more:
In reality, Jane Lynch couldn’t be less like the character she plays on Glee. Sue Sylvestor is the oft mean-spirited high school cheerleading coach from hell. Lynch is a mild-mannered comedic actress and now, author. She did, however, spend some time as as a playground agitator as a child, which inspired her to write the children’s book Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean with consult from her then-spouse, psychologist Lara Embry. 
She and Embry were casually discussing their own childhoods when they came to the same observation about themselves as young girls. “We both admitted that we were kind of bullying. Especially when we were younger,” Lynch told BuzzFeed. Despite what their childhood behavior would suggest, both women admit they were actually just trying to make friends. “We found this the easiest way to do it because it works. Bullying works on a level. You get to be part of the group. The catch is, you’re never really equal. People are afraid of you. You inspire fear more than you inspire companionship.” 
The book is gorgeously illustrated by Tricia Tusa, and Lynch is excited to praise the vision of Marlene that Tusa brought to fruition. “We wanted her to look awkward. She has a bow that’s way too big for her head. She’s got freckles and long limbs and she’s just a goofy kid. [Tricia] nailed it.” 
In the book, the turning point for Marlene comes when another kid stands up to her. Big Freddy, another student, doesn’t challenge her to a fight or say mean things, he just points out what every other kid has failed to realized about her — she’s just not that scary. 
“There’s always one advanced soul,” Lynch says. “Just one of those kids who wants everyone to get along and has the wisdom of someone beyond their age. They can see into the heart of the person doing the bullying. ‘You’re not that mean and you’re not even that tall. Why don’t you just be friends with us?’ And it works.” 
After her confrontation with Big Freddy, Marlene attempts to change her behavior with other kids, and mostly succeeds. It’s acknowledged that there is some backsliding, but Lynch says that was absolutely intentional. “We’re not going to turn her into a cardboard cutout of the perfect child. She still makes mistakes, like we all do, and she has to re-learn the same lesson over and over again. But she’s had the big epiphany. And that’s the important thing.” 
In fact, Lynch believes that children who are bullies often show the signs of natural giftedness in leadership. She believes that while it’s important to correct the actions that victimize other children, it’s just as important to foster the awakening of something else in the child who bullies. There is a very positive trait — especially for girls — hidden beneath all of that overly aggressive demanding. 
“She is who she is. This is a little girl who is a bright light and is probably going to run a corporation someday,” Lynch said. “We don’t want to tell her that who she is at base is wrong. She has great leadership skills. Her natural gift is that she’s great at leading. She loves to be in an authority position. She just needed some redirection. Now, she’s just going to be a great boss who takes into consideration people’s individuality, and their feelings. But ultimately, she’s not going to change her stripes.” 
You can preorder Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean here. Available everywhere September 23rd! 
See the original post HERE

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Classic Novels Had Inspiration Too

One of the questions I always ask authors is what inspired them to write their novels. All stories come from something, whether its the seed of a character, a plot, a theme.

I often wonder this same thing when reading the classics, with unfortunately no way to get that extra insight, that authorial intent. (That said, while I find it intriguing to know authorial intent, it doesn't mean I read the book that way personally, and that's totally okay.) And now, HuffPo Books posted an article yesterday about some of the true stories behind some of the great novels. Maybe not "inspiration" per se, but this more than whets my appetite:

According to Jack London, "You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." London himself took the inspiration for The Call of the Wild (1903) from his time spent living in Canada and Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush when high-quality sled dogs -- like those that feature in the book -- were in impossibly high demand. The stories and inspirations behind fifteen more of literature's most memorable titles are explained here:  
Anna Karenina (1877), Leo Tolstoy In January 1872, the death of a 35-year-old woman was reported in the Russian press: smartly dressed and carrying a bag containing a change of clothes, the girl had thrown herself under a freight train at Yasenki Station outside Moscow. The woman was identified as Anna Pirogova, a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy's wife and the mistress of his good friend and neighbour, Alexander Bibikov. It soon transpired that Alexander had told Anna that he planned to leave her and marry his son's new governess, and, unable to cope, she had left him a brief note -- "You are my murderer; be happy, if an assassin can be happy" -- and fled. Tolstoy himself attended Anna's post-mortem the following day, and by all accounts the sight of the unrecognisable body of a woman he had known so well stayed with him long afterwards, so that when he came to begin a new novel more than a year later he already had its tragic conclusion in mind. 
The Birds (1952), Daphne Du Maurier Dame Daphne Du Maurier is well known for having taken inspiration for some of her most celebrated works from her adopted home county of Cornwall in the far southwest of England. Jamaica Inn (1936) was inspired by an overnight stay at the real-life Jamaica Inn, an isolated 18th century pub on Bodmin Moor, in 1930. Frenchman's Creek (1941) was inspired by Readymoney Cove, where Du Maurier owned a holiday home on the coast. And the imposing Manderley estate in Rebecca (1938) was at least partly based on Menabilly, a grand country house that Du Maurier herself moved into in 1943. It was while at Menabilly that she saw a flock of seagulls following a plow at a nearby farm and was struck by a simple yet unnerving thought -- what would happen if the birds attacked? The resulting story, The Birds, first appeared in Du Maurier's collection The Apple Tree in 1952. 
Catch-22 (1961), Joseph Heller Joseph Heller joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942 at
the age of 19, and went on to take part in more than 50 European bombing raids before the end of the Second World War. His military service affected him greatly -- he became an angst-ridden chronic nail-biter, with a habit for screaming in his sleep -- and it took him another eight years to begin dealing with his experiences in writing. After a few dreary post-war years working as a copywriter, one afternoon in 1953 a line simply popped into Heller's head: "It was love at first sight. The first time he saw the chaplain, Someone [he had yet to name Captain Yossarian] fell madly in love with him." Heller wrote the first twenty pages of what he presumed would merely be a short story over the next seven days, but it took him another eight years to complete what would eventually become Catch-22
Crime & Punishment (1866), Fyodor Dostoyevsky When he began writing it in the early 1860s, Dostoyevsky originally envisioned Crime & Punishment as a novella entitled "The Drunkard", in which he intended to explore the consequences of alcoholism on family life. That was until he discovered the writings of a French writer and murderer named Pierre Fran├žois Lacenaire, who had been executed in Paris in 1836 for the brutal killing of a young man and his mother. While in prison, Lacenaire had written essays and poems, met with journalists and researchers, given interviews, speeches and press conferences, volunteered for psychological studies, and even offered to have a life mask made of his face, all on an apparent quest to become an icon of social injustice and guarantee his notoriety endured long after his death. It's unclear whether Dostoyevsky had already created the character of Raskolnikov by the time he heard of Lacenaire, but there are a number of striking similarities between his murder of the pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna and her half-sister Lizaveta in Crime & Punishment and Lacenaire's own crimes 30 years earlier. 
Frankenstein (1818), Mary Shelley Frankenstein was famously written in response to Lord Byron's suggestion in the summer of 1816 that the guests at his villa on Lake Geneva -- including the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his future wife, Mary -- should each write a ghost story to pass the time. After initial reservations, 19-year-old Mary more than rose to the challenge by penning what is now considered masterpiece of gothic horror, inspired by a single terrifying image that popped into her mind as she lay in bed. "When I placed my head on my pillow..." she recalled in the introduction to her novel, "I saw -- with shut eyes, but acute mental vision -- the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together." The first edition of Frankenstein was published anonymously just two years later, followed by a second edition in 1822, a stage version in 1823, and finally a revised third edition in 1831 dedicated to Mary's then late husband, who had died nine years earlier. 
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), Arthur Conan Doyle In July 1900, Arthur Conan Doyle met an English journalist named Bertram Fletcher Robinson on board a ship returning to England from the Boer War. The pair quickly became friends and the following year Doyle agreed to visit Robinson at his home in Devon, southwest England, with an eye to collaborating on a new novel. Robinson took Doyle up onto Dartmoor, a vast ancient moorland (and now a National Park), and regaled him with an old folktale about a notorious local squire named Richard Cabell who had apparently sold his soul to the Devil -- when he died in 1677, local legend claims a monstrous pack of jet black hounds descended from the moors to escort his soul into Hell. Although Doyle had agreed to co-author a book with Robinson, after putting pen to paper the story quickly evolved into a new Sherlock Holmes mystery (his first in eight years) and Robinson's input was relegated, in his own words, to "assistant plot producer." 
Jude The Obscure (1895), Thomas Hardy It is unclear precisely who inspired Thomas Hardy's tale of a young working-class man's struggle to become a scholar, but it seems likely that the eponymous Jude Hawley was at least partly based on Hardy's tragic friend Horace Moule. Born in 1832, Moule earned a place at Oxford University in 1851, but failed to receive his degree. Moving to Cambridge University three years later, it took him another 14 years to finally complete his studies, during which time he battled alcoholism and severe depression until finally, in September 1873, he committed suicide by cutting his own throat as he lay in bed. He was just 41 years old. 
Little Women (1868-9), Louisa May Alcott The four eponymous March Sisters in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women were all based on the author and her three sisters. Louisa herself was the strong-willed protagonist Jo; her elder sister Anna was Meg; her youngest sister May was Amy; and her middle sister Elizabeth, who died at the age of 23, was Beth. The setting and the sisters may have been the alike, but the events and circumstances around them were not: the Marches were by no means rich, but the Alcotts lived in near abject poverty for many years during Louisa's childhood. What's more, the March family's father -- a philanthropic and scholarly Civil War hero -- was strikingly different from that of Alcott's own father, Bronson, a pacifist vegan schoolteacher and an early advocate of transcendentalism. 
Middlemarch (1872), George Eliot In January 1869, George Eliot wrote a list of tasks in her journal that she wanted to complete in the coming year, one of which was "a novel called Middlemarch." Although Eliot seemed determined to set to work, progress on the new novel was slow and when her son Thornie contracted a fatal case of tuberculosis later that year she ceased writing completely; by the time Thornie died in October, Eliot had produced just three chapters of what would eventually be an 86-chapter work, and she promptly shelved the project. By all accounts Eliot did not recommence writing until more than a year later, when, in November 1870, she began an entirely new work entitled Miss Brooke. This new story introduced an eponymous character named Dorothea, but sometime during Miss Brooke's development Eliot saw the opportunity to merge its narrative with that of the three chapters she had shelved the previous year, and Middlemarch was born. 
Moby-Dick (1851), Herman Melville Herman Melville's own experiences on board a Pacific Ocean whaling ship, the Acushnet, in the early 1840s provided the primary inspiration for his novel Moby-Dick, and later editors and commentators have since even been able to draw parallels between Melville's real-life fellow crewmembers and the characters in his book. The Acushnet was far from his only inspiration, however, as Melville was doubtless also influenced by the true story of a whaling ship named the Essex that was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the central Pacific in 1820. Melville later met the son of one of the Essex's eight surviving crewmembers during his time on the Acushnet, and after the publication of Moby-Dick in 1851 met with the ship's captain, George Pollard, whom he later described as "one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met." 
Robinson Crusoe (1719), Daniel Defoe It is widely believed that Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe was based on the true story of real-life castaway Alexander Selkirk, but that's by no means guaranteed. In fact, there are such telling inconsistencies between the two tales -- Selkirk was voluntarily marooned in the Pacific, while Crusoe was shipwrecked in the Caribbean; he was stranded for just four years, compared to Crusoe's 28; and Selkirk was alone, while Crusoe's tale involves encounters with natives, cannibals and pirates -- that some editors have suggested Defoe likely had another story in mind. It may be that Crusoe's tale was based on the 17th century sea captain Robert Knox's 19-year imprisonment on Ceylon, which was published as An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon (1681), or else on the British doctor Henry Pitman, who escaped from a British penal colony in the Caribbean before being shipwrecked on a nearby island. Alternatively, there could be some truth in Defoe's own claim that Robinson Crusoe was the true story of a man he knew personally, and for whom he simply served as memoirist. Whatever its true inspiration, there's no doubting the success or impact of Defoe's novel, which ran to four editions in its first year alone and has remained enduringly popular ever since. 
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson had already written a play about Deacon Brodie -- an 18th century Edinburgh city councillor who led a double life as a burglar -- when in 1885 he had a dream about a mild-mannered man transforming into a monster. His wife Fanny later recalled how, "In the small hours of one morning... I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily, 'Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey-tale.'" She had woken him, she later discovered, at what would eventually become Jekyll's first transformation into Mr Hyde. 
The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), John Buchan John Buchan was recovering from a stomach ulcer at a nursing home in Broadstairs on the far southeast coast of England he began work on what he referred to as his first "shocker" in 1914. Buchan reportedly took the title of the novel from a wooden staircase that once ran from the clifftops at Broadstairs down to the beach, although there are several conflicting accounts: one version of the story has Buchan's young daughter running down the stairs two at a time and announcing that there were "39 steps" down to the beach, while another claims that as there were actually 78 steps Buchan either halved the number simply to make a snappier title, or else changed it because he was 39 years old at the time. 
Three Men In A Boat (1889), Jerome K. Jerome In the mid 1880s, Jerome K Jerome came up with the idea of writing a straightforward travel guide to the River Thames, including descriptions of several historical sites along its course. As he began to compile it, however, Jerome's guide became increasingly filled with humorous anecdotes and bantering conversations recalled from boat trips he had taken along the river from London to Oxford with two of his friends, George Wingrave and Carl Henschel. Together, the three men became the eponymous Three Men In A Boat, with the addition of Montmorency the dog having, "as Jerome admits, developed out of that area of inner consciousness which, in all Englishmen, contains an element of the dog", according to Oxford World's Classics. 
To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), Harper Lee Harper Lee has long denied claims that To Kill A Mockingbird is an autobiographical work, but rather a reflection of an author simply writing about what he or she knows and has experienced first hand. Either way, it's hard not to see parallels between her Pulitzer Prize-winning classic and her childhood growing up in Monroeville, Alabama. Just like Scout, Lee's father practiced as a lawyer, and in 1919 was faced with defending two black men accused of the murder of a local white shopkeeper (both men - a father and son - were later hanged). Moreover, Lee, like Scout, was a tomboy in her youth, and her eldest brother Edwin, like Jem, was four years her senior. She wrote the book in the years following the death of her mother in 1951, and in the story Scout too has lost her mother. And even the character of Dill, who lives next door to the Finch family during the summer, is modelled on her childhood friend Truman Capote, who would spend the summer with his aunt in Alabama while his mother visited New York. 
See the original post HERE