When my editor asked me to write a graphic novel about a historical event, I knew I had to write about 9/11/2001. I get the sense that kids aren't learning much about this in school. I can't help thinking there's a wealth of firsthand information that could be used to teach about this right now. I have ideas about how to make that happen...
Writing this book wouldn't really address that issue. But I knew it would help kids understand what happened that day and how those events changed the world we live in.
But there were other reasons I wanted to write this book. One was personal. I have such strong memories of how it felt to live through 9/11. I was on a train going into the city just before the first tower fell. Outside Grand Central Station, I stood watching a storefront TV and saw the second tower fall as a crowd behind me screamed and swore. Then, all trains going in or out of the city were halted and I had to figure out how to stay safe, not knowing what might happen next.
For years, I didn't want to write about 9/11. I still can't think about it without tearing up. But eventually I started wondering about other people's experiences that day and started researching. I found an incredible story involving daycare workers who rescued all of the children in their care. They were located in the World Trade Center complex and ran barefoot through the rubble to escape.
I wanted to write a nonfiction book about them. But every attempt to reach the daycare workers led to a dead end. After all, more than 15 years had passed.
When I was writing this book, I realized I could include a fictional account of what really happened. There's a section in the book where the kids meet a woman on the street who's trying to bring six children to safety. It was inspired by the real-life daycare workers, heroes in every sense of the word.
You can learn more about them here.