Acceptance Letter from Louis Sachar ...

I am thrilled that Holes was voted the winner of the Nēnē Award. The Newbery award may be more prestigious, but what kids think matters more to me than the opinions of critics and librarians.

I'm sorry I can't be there in person to accept it. I'm trying to focus on writing, and will not be doing any more speaking engagements for a while-- at least not until I have something new to talk about.

People often ask if when I was writing the Holes, I knew it would be so well received.

No.

All I wanted to do was somehow piece together a good story that I liked, and I hoped somebody else would like it too. It took a year and a half to write. I did five drafts. During most of that time I was writing it I was thinking, this won't work, the jumping around in time is too confusing, and who wants to read about a kid who does nothing but dig holes all day? Still, I kept with it, day after day, digging my holes, so-to-speak, just like Stanley.

Some other questions I'm often asked:

How did I come up with the name Stanley Yelnats?
I always have trouble naming my characters. I have to stop the flow of the story and think, what am I going to name this person. It's so arbitrary. At the time I made up Stanley, I didn't feel like stopping to think of his name. So I just wrote Stanley, and then wrote it backwards: Yelnats. I figured I would change it later when I felt like thinking about it. When I did get around to thinking about it, I decided to keep the name for a couple of reasons. One, it let the reader know that even though this book is about a poor kid wrongfully sent to a horrible prison camp, there would be humor and playfulness to the story. And two, it established that Stanley had the same name as his great grandfather, which as you know, turns out to be very important.

How did I manage to tie all the stories together at the end?
That wasn't the hard part. I knew all along how it would all tie together. The hard part was setting out all the other stories, without them getting in the way of Stanley's story.

What happened to other boys, X-Ray, Armpit, etc, after Camp Green Lake closed?
I don't know, but I'm glad I'm asked that question. I try to give some humanity to all my characters, even the villains. The fact that people want to know what happened to them means that to some extent they care about them.
I even feel some compassion for the Warden, although I haven't heard anyone else echo that sentiment. I feel sorry for her. She and her parents had wasted their lives, living in that awful environment, searching for buried treasure. Then Stanley came and took it away from her.

Are the yellow spotted lizards real?
Sorry, but no. Still, it doesn't hurt to eat a few raw onions a day, just to be safe.

With thanks and best wishes,
Louis Sachar

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