Why does Gary Paulsen write books about his real life experiences?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In an interview with The New York Times, Paulsen was asked about the semiautobiographical nature of his books. At the time of the interview, he had just published the novel "The Legend of Bass Reeves," which is the story of a former slave who becomes "the most successful federal marshall in American history." Although the book is based on the real life of Bass Reeves, Paulsen admits in the interview that he injected some of his own characteristics into Reeves and included some of his own experiences in the story. To justify having done that, Paulsen says, "The best writing is like carving pieces off your self." Later in the interview, he comments on his style:

“I’m a teller of stories,” he says. “I put bloody skins on my back and dance around the fire, and I say what the hunt was like. It’s not erudite; it’s not intellectual. I sail, run dogs, ride horses, play professional poker and tell stories about the stuff I’ve been through. And I’m still a romantic; I still want Bambi to make it out of the fire.”

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