Fifteen Fun Facts
His own history:
° The only two subjects he passed in high school were gym and
woodshop, and he was eventually expelled for fighting. During the
expulsion, he was told by a counselor that he was too dumb to finish
high school, anyway.
°Stanley joined the Air Force at 17 and served from 1958-1962. He
got his GED and took college admission tests to get out of the Air
°He played the drums in a band while in the Air Force.
°A career aptitude test that he took while in the military said
that he would make a great mortician. Ironically, he lived above a
funeral parlor for three years in college.
°Now retired, Stanley was a history professor at California State
University in Bakersfield. He is an avid fisherman, and is married with
His writing process:
°Jerry Stanley sees his writing as an act of rebellion against all
boring history teachers he has had.
°He never tells his editor what he is writing about or submits any
pages until he is completely finished.
°He loves the writing but hates the research. Out of 1000-1200
notecards that Stanley collects in doing research, probably
only 60-100 get used in the actual book. "In the end,
I may only use five per cent of the research in the book, but the
reader feels the other 95 per
cent." (Something About the Author, 2002)
°Stanley believes there is no wasted writing -- all writing leads
to better writing.
°He has to have things "just so" in order to write: a photo of the
subject hanging on the wall by his desk, research notes for the day
arranged in order, and a copy of his last book resting on the pages of
his new book.
°In wrtitng an autobiographical sketch in Seventh Book of Junior Authors and
Illustrators (1996), Stanley
said, "My books are aimed at the heart of the ignorance and intolerance
in our world, and if I could, I would fashion them into stakes and
drive them in."
° Children of the Dust Bowl began
when his boss at the University told him that he would lose his job if
he didn't go take down an oral history from Leo Hart.
°He was given Shi Nomura's memoir during a visit to the Eastern
California Museum of Independence while on a camping trip. Stanley
glanced at the papers and handed them to his wife, Dorothy. It took
Dorothy a year to get him to read the memoir and several more months to
convince him to write I am an
°Friends who have a cabin on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
first told Stanley about Annie Clemenc (of Big Annie of Calumet) and urged him
to write a book. Once again, it took Stanley a year to decide she would
make a good subject.
°Mifflin Gibbs did not make it into the manuscript of Hurry Freedom until the fourth
complete revision, and he did not become the focus of the book until
the fifth or sixth revision.