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Upper and Middle School students gained valuable literary knowledge on April 2 during a visit from Neal Shusterman, an award-winning and best-selling author of more than 30 books, primarily geared toward teenagers.

In 2015, Shusterman won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. He has also written for television and film.

During assemblies and small-group sessions, Schusterman provided insights into the writing process, his inspirations, his career, including how he overcame failures, and more. He said he writes for teenagers because words and books are more impactful at that age, when students are finding their way in the world.

“You can be anything. You can be anyone," he said.

There are four essential qualities needed for a good story, Shusterman said. A cool idea, an original idea, and idea that everyone can relate to, and an idea that is screaming to be explored. He started writing in earnest when he was in ninth grade, after a teacher challenged him to write one story per month for extra credit. 

“I wasn't always successful," Shusterman said, explaining that failure is part of the writing process. 

He wrote his first book at age 18, but every publisher he pitched it to rejected it. He struggled again on his second try. It took a third try before he started getting his foot in the door. Writers need to persevere and stay focused.

“With everything you write you get better," he said. 

Visiting author Neal Shusterman spoke to Middle School and Upper School on April 2, 2024.

Visiting author Neal Shusterman spoke to Middle School and Upper School on April 2, 2024.

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