Becoming a writer the hard way . . .
Jack Gantos had a peripatetic childhood around the US and the Caribbean. At 18 years old, he was doing a dead-end job on a Caribbean island, looking for adventure and a way to fund himself through university. When he was offered $10,000 to sail a boatload of drugs to New York, he jumped at it. It resulted in a year in a federal prison - and a lot of
In prison, Jack discovered the library where he was able to indulge his passion for literature and continue to write the journal he'd started in childhood. Denied a diary of his own by prison regulations, he wrote his notes in a tiny hand between the lines of a Russian novel. Becoming ever more determined to get to university, Jack discovered that he didn't have to let one bad choice map out the course of the rest of his life.
There are such things as second chances. Paroled after a year in order to go directly to college to study writing, Jack had his first children's book published within two years of being released.