• Susan Stoderl

Sophia Autobiographic? Nah... Well Maybe a Little


Several weeks ago, I scribbled a brief article on an interview by Writers Cooperative with the author, Amy Tan. She spoke about the autobiographical aspects of her writing:


“Readers of The Joy Luck Club often suspect Tan wrote herself into the story as a single character (a woman named Jing-mei), but she says, ‘The truth is that every character has a bit of me.’”


This caused me to question this regarding my middle-grade series, Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers. Guilty as charged.


When I was about four or five years old, my grandmother told me about an aunt who moved to New York City and got a job as a secretary. This would have been in the early 1920s. She made her own money, lived independently, and enjoyed going to the opera. There were still dirt storms, just like in the 1930s, in a whole county of 1,800 people. New York City life sounded pretty exciting in my circumstances. I immediately began plotting how to make this happen.


I remembered a friend telling me how much she loved the book Eloise at the Plaza, probably around fifth or sixth grade. By then I was reading adult books, so I considered reading Eloise about on the same level as playing with dolls. But when I moved to New York to sing opera (no subliminal idea there), my husband and I made a pilgrimage to the Plaza to have tea and see the painting of the character. I promptly bought the book and adored it.


Spoiler alert! All these years later I find myself writing about a little girl in New York City who would be very lonely if she were not so independent. One who, with her best friend and co-conspirator, Pedro Gonzalez, finds adventure and interesting friends. Often in over her head, having telepathic human and animal friends comes in handy, especially when fighting off the older bullies at school and the Russian mob.


#middlegradefiction, #indieauthor, #sophiaofthebrightredsneakers