No one knows preteen angst better than Judy Blume, who at 55 has written 20 books for young readers. Here she talks about—what else?—sex and pimples.
Q: Do you make a conscious effort to write about provocative subjects in your books?
A: No, I don’t say, ”Let’s do bulimia.” A novel is about people. And yet the idea for my new book, Rachel Robinson, was not only ”I want to know this family” but also ”I want to know about Rachel’s acne.” My kids both had acne and I never saw a book dealing with the subject.
Q: You’ve written for kids on masturbation, menstruation, and premarital sex. Do you advocate this kind of candor in schools?
A: Oh, yes. It’s enormously important to educate young people about sexual responsibility. The Blume children had books that told everything; other kids came to our house just to look at them.
Q: But these days, kids seem to learn everything from TV.
A: Parents still have a big influence on their kids—just ask any therapist. No, really, I think the parent is the most important influence on children: It’s how they learn to love and treat other people.
Q: Surely you must have been the greatest mother in the world?
A: I wouldn’t want you to ask my children that question.