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Judy Blume says her newest adult novel is probably her last

ELENA SEIBERT

Judy Blume says her newest adult novel, “In the Unlikely Event” (2015), is probably her last. The bestselling author of adult and YA fiction says at 78 she’s not eager to lock herself in a room for another five years to write a book. But, she adds, “You should never say never.” Blume appears at 7 p.m., July 14 at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H.. Tickets are $29 and include a copy of her new novel.

BOOKS: What are you reading currently?

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BLUME: We opened a bookstore here in Key West, and since then I am all over the place. We are the only full-service bookstore in the city. When we moved here 20 years ago there were five. We were down to one, which sold only remainders and used books.

BOOKS: How has the bookstore changed your reading?

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BLUME: I’m trying to keep up with new books. I read “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld, which I adored. I love all her writing. I read “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and “The Atomic Weight of Love” by Elizabeth J. Church. That is her first novel. I like to read first novels. I’ve always liked discovering new talents and nurturing them. I also have to keep up on my picture books. Not everyone knows that some of today’s literary geniuses are doing picture books. Sherman Alexie just published “Thunder Boy Jr.” I’m trying to put that in everyone’s hands. “Mother Bruce” by Ryan T. Higgins is one of the funniest picture books. I tell adults that they will be OK reading it again and again.

BOOKS: Tell us about some of your author discoveries over the years?

BLUME: There was a time when I was finding new children’s and YA writers, like Kristen-Paige Madonia. She writes great YA characters. Rachel Vail put a manuscript on my kitchen counter in Key West years ago. I said, “Don’t do that.’’ But she did. I can’t say they wouldn’t be published without me, but it’s fun to be among the first to find them.

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BOOKS: When you were a child what was the closest thing to YA?

BLUME: I don’t know. I went right from Betsy-Tacy books to adult books. When I was 12 I started browsing my parents books that flanked our fireplace. I was interested in the adult world.

BOOKS: Did your parents tell you not to read any of those?

BLUME: My parents never questioned what I was reading except once when I was in 4th grade and my mother was reading John O’Hara’s “Rage to Live.” She told me not to read it. Later, O’Hara came up on my reading list in high school and, of course, that was the book I wanted to read. The school librarian said she couldn’t give me that book unless I brought a note from home. My aunt brought me a copy. I stayed up all night reading it, and nothing bad happened.

BOOKS: What have you learned at the bookstore that has surprised you about readers?

BLUME: A lot of them will only read books by authors they know. There was a mystery reader in. We didn’t have the new book by the writer he wanted, but we had other new books by other mystery writers. He refused. Children are the worst. Middle-grade readers will come into the store and go right to the series they know. You need to teach kids how to choose a book from the library or the bookstore, how to open it to first page, take a little taste, look at the back, see if you like what I call the voice.

BOOKS: How would you characterize the voices you like?

‘I like to read first novels. I’ve always liked discovering new talents and nurturing them.’

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BLUME: I like original voices. I thought the most original book that I read in recent years was “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler. But I’m so angry with the publisher because what they wrote on the back of the book is a real spoiler. For a while I was taking bookplates and pasting them over the backs of the books. Then I thought I can’t do that forever. That’s crazy.

AMY SUTHERLAND

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