Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 31 published and forthcoming books. Her newest releases are Ask Him Why, Worthy, The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With You , Where We Belong, Walk Me Home, Subway Dancer and Other Stories, When You Were Older, Don’t Let Me Go, When I Found You, Second Hand Heart, The Long, Steep Path: Everyday Inspiration From the Author of Pay It Forward, Always Chloe and Other Stories, and 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. Forthcoming is Leaving Blythe River in June of 2016.
She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How to be a Writer in the E-Age: a Self-Help Guide. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward was made into a major Warner Brothers motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. It was chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in over 30 countries. Simon & Schuster will release a special 15th anniversary edition in December of ’14.
She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.
What do you do best?
I make up stories. I won’t say I do it better than anyone else, because that’s not for me to say. But I do believe it’s the best of what I do in this life. I believe it’s a calling—that we all have something to contribute, and this is my something. And it’s a good thing I didn’t listen to early advice, because several of my teachers told me I’d never make anything of myself if I just kept daydreaming all day long. She who laughs last, as they say.
What makes you the best?
Well, again, I don’t claim to be the best. I just strive to be honest and authentic. I try to be emotionally courageous, which usually involves the vulnerability of admitting what I’m feeling, of being human at full view. And I think those goals guide my work. If there is one thing I want to do with my novels, it’s to help us all feel more human, but in a good way.
What are your aspirations?
There’s not much on my bucket list that I haven’t already done. I’m learning to ride training-level dressage at age 60. I’ve day-hiked the Grand Canyon and backpacked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In April I’m going to do some trekking in Nepal. I’d still like to see the Aurora Borealis and meet an Atlantic puffin face to face. Beyond that, I’m happy to just keep doing what I’m doing.
Making a living as an author since 1998.
Most Challenging Moment?
The release of the Pay It Forward movie opened my eyes about what the screenwriter called “horrifying media scrutiny.” That was both the most heady and the most challenging week of my life. Big highs, weird lows. Fame is not what it’s cracked up to be—not at that sudden and overwhelming level. I think there’s a way to be known for what you do and still live a comfortable life, but that wasn’t it.
The problem with a fallback position is that you tend to fall back.
The people “in the rooms” of my 12-step recovery, and anyone else who dares to be authentic and accessible.
National parks and forests. Bodies of water, large and small. The ranch where I board my horse. My home near the ocean. The more nature I find in a place and the less man-made interference I see there, the more I will like it.
Those that improve connectivity, such as my computer and phone. And books, of course. It’s all about communication.
Hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, amateur photography, seeing the southwest in my little camper van with my dog, writing books, and hearing from the people who read them.