Judy Blume on Key West Book Shop, Fans and Adaptations

Judy Blume sits amongst books flanked by covers of her most famous titles.
Judy Blume sits amongst books flanked by covers of her most famous titles.
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Judy Blume didn't think writers ever really retire, but her version of "retirement" is selling books at her own shop, Books & Books Key West.

“I was tired after my last novel, “In the Unlikely Event.” That took me five years,” she said.

Blume spent five decades of life writing, often coming-of-age tales that spoke frankly to young readers. Working at a bookshop she runs into fans, of course. Women who grew up reading her books, like “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret,” sometimes end up in tears when they see her. Blume said she then cries with them.

“Really, I think they are saying to me, ‘Judy you were my childhood.’ So it is like coming face to face with your childhood,” Blume said.

She wrote most of her books for kids and young adults. There are 29 to date and four are adult novels. 85 million copies of her books have sold in 32 different languages, according to her website.

She now wants to share those well-loved tales with even more people.

“This is a very golden time for adaptations,” she said.

There isn’t one title she is set on, but her Twitter fans weighed in on the topic with votes for all of their favorites, including “Just As Long As We’re Together,” “Blubber” and “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.” Blume was not ready to share firm plans, but she sees possible TV or film versions as timeless tales for audiences.

“I certainly don’t think it would work, with most of them, to try and set them in present day because the stories are for all kids, and it doesn’t matter when they take place,” she said.

When asked about her writing style, she said it was never her intent to write fearlessly about topics adults often did not want to discuss with kids, like puberty or bullying.

“While I’m fearless in my writing I was a very fearful child,” she said. “Yet in my writing, for some reason, I was able to be fearless,” she said.

Blume comes to Cleveland next week for a Q&A discussion as part of Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Writers Center Stage series at the Maltz Performing Arts Center in Cleveland. The interview, hosted by Daniel Handler (known under the pen name Lemony Snicket), is sold out.

Listen to our conversation with Judy Blume in the audio player above.

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