Ralph Fletcher is an American writer of children's picture books, young adult fiction, and poetry. He is also an educational consultant and author of books for both children and professional educators on the art of writing.
Ralph Fletcher grew up swimming in stories that he heard them from grandparents and from wild Irish uncles. He traded them with friends and cousins. And he read them in books.
Books really opened Ralph’s eyes. He started reading sports stories and then branched off into everything else. He always loved books. As a kid he’d finish reading the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, or The Call of the Wild by Jack London and say to himself, “Man! Wouldn’t it be unbelievable if I could write a book that would affect other people even half as much as this book affected me!”
These books taught him many things–mostly the power of words. In junior high and high school he was lucky enough to have a few teachers who gave him the space and the encouragement that allowed him to keep writing. When he didn’t get that encouragement, he wrote secretly in notebooks. Ralph says “I wrote for myself.”
When Ralph was 21 his brother Bob (age 17) was killed in a car accident. This tragedy had a huge impact on my whole family. Bob’s death would be the catalyst for Ralph’s first novel, Fig Pudding. The death of Ralph’s brother stirred up a hornet’s nest of emotions inside him–anger, grief, guilt. He says “I needed some kind of container to hold all those feelings. It was around that time that I started reading poems. Poems appealed to me because they were short and intense–they aimed straight for the heart.” For years his friends and family held a big poetry reading around the end of the year. These were B.Y.O.P. parties: Bring Your Own Poem. They sat around a big circle listening and reading poetry far into the night.
Most writers specialize in one particular kind of writing. Not Ralph. He has published novels, poetry collections, nonfiction, books for teachers and picture books. He finds that each form comes with its own particular pleasures and challenges. He enjoys visiting schools, talking with young readers and writers. He has also learned that that he needs solitude so he “can listen to the words and lines and character’s voices inside me.”
“If I could have chosen it, what would have been the perfect career for me? Playing center field for the Boston Red Sox, of course! But becoming a writer is also a dream that has come true. I love to write. I love getting up every morning and mucking around in sentences, playing with stories, trying to build my city of words.”