Louis Sachar has published many books for children in the USA and Holes was his first book to be published in the UK. Holes has won major American literary prizes including the Newbery and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Louis Sachar, lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and daughter.
Louis Sachar was born in East Meadow, New York, in 1954. His father's office was on the 78th floor of the Empire State Building, which he still thinks is pretty cool. When he was nine, they moved to Tustin, California. He went to college at the University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1976, as an economics major. The year after he graduated from college, he wrote his first book, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. He was working at a sweater warehouse during the day and wrote at night. Almost a year later he was fired from the job and he decided to go to law school.
He attended Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. His first book was published during this time. He graduated in 1980 and for the next eight years he worked part-time as a lawyer and continued to try to write children's books. Then when his books started selling well enough, he was able to quit practicing law.
On writing Holes
"I've been interviewed quite a lot in the past several months, and one of the questions I kept being asked was, 'Where did you get the idea for Holes?' And when I answered, 'From the hot Texas summer,' the interviewer always looked at me oddly, as if I misunderstood her question, or she misunderstood my answer. I'm not sure what kind of answer the interviewer expected - that I lived next door to a juvenile correction facility? But my neighbours who saw me on the Today show knew what I was talking about. Anybody who has ever tried to do yard work in Texas in July can easily imagine Hell to be a place where you are required to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across day after day under the brutal Texas sun."
"While every other story I'd written had begun with a character, this story to me has always been about a place. Camp Green Lake - where there was no lake, and hardly anything was green. I thought of the place first. The characters and plot grew out of that place."
"But it was never my intention to write a grim story, I wanted it to be fun and adventurous. I had the idea of the boys in the book digging holes because I liked the thought that while they were ostensibly doing this to build character, the camp warden was really looking for buried treasure."
"It happens every once in a while when you're writing that certain characters seem to leap off the page and take over the book, and that's what happened with the story of Kate and Sam. I expected to make Kissin' Kate a complete villain, but when I started writing about her I ended up making her someone else entirely; it surprised me."
"People often ask me how I managed to tie everything together at the end, but that wasn't the hard part. I knew how everything was going to fit together. The hard part was laying out the strands throughout the story; of telling the story of Kate Barlow, and of Elya Yelnats, and Elya's son, without it getting in the way of Stanley's story. And then trying to make Stanley's story interesting, when all he does is dig holes, all day, every day. How many times did I write, 'He dug his shovel into the dirt'?"
The Writing Process
"I never talk about a book until I'm finished writing it. It took me a year and a half to write Holes, and nobody knew anything about it, not even my wife or my daughter. I think that is helpful for writing, as well as for anything else that takes a lot of self-motivation. The more you talk about something, the less you tend to do it. By not permitting myself to talk about Holes, I was forced to write it. The story was growing inside me for a year and a half, and I had no other way to let it out.
"I write five or six drafts of each of my books. With each draft, the story changes and the ideas are transformed. What amazes me is that most days feel useless. I don't seem to accomplish anything - just a few pages, most of which don't seem very good. Yet, when I put all those wasted days together, I somehow end up with a book of which I'm very proud."