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Kate DiCamillo on why she created “Because of Winn-Dixie”

Kate DiCamillo wrote “Because of Winn-Dixie” during the “worst winter on record in Minnesota”. The two-time winner of the Newbery Medal was missing Florida, her home state, and “desperately wanted a dog”. So she used her imagination to create a beloved classic children’s literature that was later on adapted as a film, directed by Wayne Wang.

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I wrote - Because of Winn Dixie during what was at the time referred to as the “worst winter on record in Minnesota” which is a considerable statement for Minnesota, which is roughly the equivalent of Siberia and climate. And because I had grown up in Florida, it was a double shock to me. I mean, we had a week where the high was didn’t go above 20 below and so you walk outside and you open up your car door and pieces of it fall off because it’s so cold. So at that point I was thinking “hmm. I wonder what things are like in Florida” and so I was homesick and I was also - it was the first long period of my life that I’ve been without a dog or access to a dog and I desperately wanted a dog so I made a dog up and I went back to Florida, all of that happening without any conscious decision on my part. I can look back and see what was at work now but then I just knew that I was longing for home and that I wanted to write a book. When I got to the set, they were filming scene with Dave Matthews playing a song for Opal and the pet store and I’m not a weeper but i sat there just cried like baby which delighted Wayne Wang, the director. He was just like, he was so pleased. It’s an astonishing thing because you know you’re in your little room in your little apartment at four thirty in the morning making things up and then all of a sudden five years later there it is in everybody’s mind in a way so it was very very unsettling and very moving.