Katherine Paterson's landmark book, Bridge to Terabithia won the Newbery Medal in 1978. The powerful story is being made into a movie by the same folks behind Holes. The book remains a flash point for some parents. An interesting and revealing interview with Paterson appeared in the Boston Globe. She discusses culture, religion and faith in her writing.
"An elder in her Presbyterian church in Vermont, Paterson wrote the novel to help her make sense of the death of her son's 8-year-old friend, who was struck by lightning."
How does your faith come through in your work?
C.S. Lewis once said that the book cannot be what the writer is not. I'm not sticking my religion in, because that never works. But who I am and what I believe at the deepest levels is going to come out in what I write. I must say that nearly all of [the challenges] of my books have come from fellow Christians. I think that's a misunderstanding of what a story is all about. I want children to be able to see themselves in [characters]. If I pretty [characters] up, they'll know it's fake.
As a Christian, are you troubled some Christians find your books inappropriate?
Of course, it makes me sad. If you make the book inoffensive, it doesn't deeply move anybody. Some books work for us, and some don't. There will be some children for whom the book will not work. You can't write a book for every single child.
I suppose some people would find parts of the Bible grim or risqu[e].
Well, so do I! A letter from a teacher in a Christian school said she had read "Bridge" aloud in class and stopped because she was appalled. She said, "From now on, I'm going to teach children literature from the Bible alone."
I hope she doesn't use the Book of Judges.