HOLES LOUIS SACHAR
Where did you get the idea for Holes? • Actually, I never start with a full idea of what I'm going to write. I usually just start with a piece of a character and then see what develops. In this case, I didn't start with a character; I started writing about Camp Greenlake and it developed from there. I suppose the initial inspiration for writing about the camp came from the heat of summers in Texas. Anybody who has ever tried to do yard work in Texas in summer 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.
Holes seems to be as much about a place as about the characters. Is that your feeling? • Yes. To me this story has always been about a place—Camp Green Lake. The story began with the place, and the characters and plot grew out of it. Of course, Camp Green Lake has no lake and hardly anything is green. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is just a dry, flat wasteland. There used to be a town of Greenlake as well. The town also shriveled and dried up. During the summer, the daytime temperature hovers around 95 degrees in the shade, if you can find any shade. There's not much shade in a big, dry lake. The only trees are two old oaks on the Eastern edge of the lake. A hammock is stretched between the two trees, and a log cabin stands behind that. The kids are forbidden to lie in the hammock. It belongs to the warden. The warden owns the shade. When you first start reading the book, however, you don't know it's that kind of camp. You just know that you're going to Camp Greenlake.
Why do you think book's lead character, Stanley Yelnats, connects with so many children? • Stanley isn't a hero-type. He's a kind of pathetic kid who feels like he has no friends, feels like his life is cursed. And I think everyone can identify with that in one way or another. And then there's the fact that here he is, a kid who isn't a hero, but he lifts himself up and becomes one. I think readers can imagine themselves rising with Stanley.
What was the hardest part of writing Holes? • 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, telling the story of Kate Barlow and of ElyaYelnats and Elya's son, without it getting in the way of Stanley's story. • The other problem I had occurred when Stanley was digging his hole for the first time. I wanted the reader to feel what a long, miserable experience this is, digging those 5' by 5' holes. But how many times can you say, "He dug his shovel back into the dirt and lifted out another shovelful?" My solution was to interweave two stories, bringing more variety to the tale. Stanley's anxious first days at Camp Green Lake are set off against the story of his ancestor, ElyaYelnats, whose broken promise to a gypsy results indirectly in young Stanley's bad luck.
The book is very funny, but in an offbeat way. • Yes. Sometimes when I start reading, people aren't quite sure if this is a humorous book or not, and they're not sure whether to laugh at first, and then gradually, people start laughing.