I was born in South Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and grew up there with my noisy and rowdy family: my parents (Ann and Arvel), my sister (Sandy), and my three brothers (Dennis, Doug, and Tom).
For a fictional view of what it was like growing up in my family, see Absolutely Normal Chaos. (In that book, the brothers even have the same names as my own brothers.) Our house was not only full of us Creeches, but also full of friends and visiting relatives.
In the summer, we usually took a trip, all of us piled in a car and heading out to Wisconsin or Michigan or, once, to Idaho. We must have been a very noisy bunch, and I’m not sure how our parents put up with being cooped up with us in the car for those trips. The five-day trip out to Idaho when I was twelve had a powerful effect on me: what a huge and amazing country! I had no idea then that thirty-some years later, I would recreate that trip in a book called Walk Two Moons.
One other place we often visited was Quincy, Kentucky, where my cousins lived (and still live) on a beautiful farm, with hills and trees and swimming hole and barn and hayloft. We were outside running in those hills all day long, and at night we’d gather on the porch where more stories would be told. I loved Quincy so much that it has found its way into many of my books—transformed into Bybanks, Kentucky. Bybanks appears in Walk Two Moons, Chasing Redbird, and Bloomability. Bybanks also makes a brief appearance (by reference, but not by name) in The Wanderer.
When I was young, I wanted to be many things when I grew up: a painter, an ice skater, a singer, a teacher, and a reporter. It soon became apparent that I had little drawing talent, very limited tolerance for falling on ice, and absolutely no ability to stay on key while singing. I also soon learned that I would make a terrible reporter because when I didn’t like the facts, I changed them. It was in college, when I took literature and writing courses, that I became intrigued by story-telling. Later, I was a teacher (high school English and writing) in England and in Switzerland. While teaching great literature, I learned so much about writing: about what makes a story interesting and about techniques of plot and characterization and point of view.
I started out writing novels for adults: The Recital and Nickel Malley were both written and published while I was living in England (these books were published in England only and are now out of print). But the next book was Absolutely Normal Chaos, and ever since that book I have written mainly about young people. Walk Two Moons was the first of my books to be published in America. When it received the Newbery Medal, no one was more surprised than I was. I’m still a little bit in shock.
In addition to Walk Two Moons, I wrote Absolutely Normal Chaos, Pleasing the Ghost, Chasing Redbird, Bloomability, The Wanderer, Love That Dog, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, A Fine, Fine School, Fishing in the Air, Heartbeat, Who’s That Baby?, Replay, The Castle Corona, Hate That Cat, The Unfinished Angel, The Great Unexpected, and The Boy on the Porch. I hope to be writing stories for a long, long time.
I am married to Lyle Rigg, and we live in Maine. We have two grown children, Rob and Karin, and being with my family is what I enjoy most. The next-best thing is writing stories.
Write to Sharon
I love hearing from my readers!
If you’d like to write me a letter:
P. O. Box 576
Camden, ME 04843-0576
Are you going to write a sequel to Walk Two Moons?
I don’t think so, but some of my books are already connected, if not exactly sequels. For example, Absolutely Normal Chaos is Mary Lou Finney’s “secret” summer journal, and both she and her journal reappear in Walk Two Moons. Walk Two Moons is the story of Salamanca Tree Hiddle and her home is in Bybanks, Kentucky, and Chasing Redbird also takes place in Bybanks and is the story of Salamanca’s friend there, Zinny Taylor. The main character in Bloomability, Domenica, is from Bybanks, and in that story there are references to Zinny from Chasing Redbird.
Where do you get your ideas?
This is a hard question to answer because a book contains not one, but hundreds, maybe thousands, of little ideas. Often it seems as if the main character and the place just arrive in my head one day, but later I can see that perhaps they arrived there because I’d been thinking about my family or someone I’d seen at a bus stop. Many ideas in Walk Two Moons came from a single fortune cookie message: “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” From that came the ideas of a journey (walking along) and of Native American heritage and of people not being what they might at first seem to be. With The Wanderer, the idea to take characters on a sailing journey came from my own daughter’s journey across the Atlantic, and Bloomability grew out of the time that my husband, children, and I spent in Switzerland. Many ideas come during the revision process, after the first draft is written, when I begin tinkering with a scene. I’ll think, “What else is this character thinking or feeling?” and that will lead to a whole new scene, and that, in turn, will lead to other new scenes.
Are your stories based on your real life? Are the people based on people you really know?
Sometimes the characters and events are sparked by real people and events, as I’ve suggested above. The Finney family in Absolutely Normal Chaos started out like my own family (with the brothers even having the same names as my own brothers), but the characters quickly evolved and changed into fictional beings. My family took the same journey from Ohio to Idaho that Salamanca takes in Walk Two Moons, but none of the things that happen to Salamanca happened to me. We lived in the same area of Switzerland that Domenica does in Bloomability, but the characters and events in that story are fictional.
How did you become a writer? What inspired you?
This is another difficult question, and I don’t have an easy answer for it. I think that what inspired me is a love of good stories—wanting to read led naturally (it seemed) to wanting to write. I studied writing in college and in graduate school, but I also learned a lot about writing from teaching both literature and writing, when I had a chance to examine closely what makes a good story.
Do you know the whole story before you begin writing? Do you outline?
I know hardly anything about the story when I begin, and I definitely do not outline. Some writers are greatly helped by outlines, but I am not one of them. Usually I begin with just the image of a person and a place, and then I write to discover what the story is. To me, that’s so exciting: rushing to find out what the story is and what will happen and who I’ll meet along the way.
How did it feel to win the Newbery Medal?
It was a complete surprise and a major shock, and although it was exciting, it was also terrifying in the beginning. It can be unnerving to be suddenly in a spotlight. One of the best parts about Newbery-life is that you have the chance to meet so many people (students, teachers, librarians, parents, publishers, other authors) who love books of all kinds, and it renews your own excitement in writing.
sharon Creech Awards
Creech has won several awards, including the Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal.
In 1995 Walk Two Moons won the Newbery Medal, the United Kingdom Reading Association Award, and the United Kingdom’s Children's Book Award. In 1997, it also won the Literaturhaus Award, Austria, and the Young Adult Sequoyah Award, Oklahoma, USA.
Bloomability won the IRA/CBC Children's Choices award in 1999.
The Wanderer won the Parents' Choice Award, USA, in 2000, and the Newbery Honor Award in 2001.
Absolutely Normal Chaos won the YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, USA in 2001.
Ruby Holler received the 2002 Carnegie Medal.