Platt, Randall 1948–
Platt, Randall 1948–
(Randall Beth Platt)
PERSONAL: Born January 14, 1948, in Seattle, WA; daughter of Charles McGregor (a distributor of imported cars) and Alta (in sales; maiden name, Me-lendy) Lechner; married Jonathan Hastings Platt (a marine consultant), July 16, 1977; children: Elkan Alan Wollenberg, Skye Lechner Wollenberg. Education: Attended Portland State University and Oregon State University. Politics: Independent. Religion: "I believe in a higher power that does not necessarily require the use of a religion." Hobbies and other interests: Competitive handball, running, and slang research.
CAREER: Writer. Eddie Bauer, Inc., Seattle, WA, data processing supervisor, 1969–73, private secretary, 1976–79; Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), Tacoma, WA, membership coordinator, 1979–83; freelance writer, 1983–. Friends of the Library, member of board of directors; Diabetes Association of Pierce County, fundraiser.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Western Writers of America, and Women Writing in the West.
AWARDS, HONORS: Young Adult Book Award, Keystone State Reading Association, 1999, for Honor Bright; Best Book for Young Adults list, American Library Association, 2001, for The Likes of Me.
The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko, Catbird Press (Highland Park, NJ), 1991.
Out of a Forest Clearing: An Environmental Fable, John Daniel Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1991.
Like It or Not (in German translation only), Cora Verlag (Germany), 1992.
Honor Bright, Delacorte Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Royalscope Fe-As-Ko: A Novel, Catbird Press (North Haven, CT), 1997.
The Cornerstone: A Novel, Catbird Press (North Haven, CT), 1998.
The 1898 Base-ball Fe-as-ko, Catbird Press (North Haven, CT), 2000.
The Likes of Me, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2000.
ADAPTATIONS: The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko was adapted as the television movie Promise the Moon by Sullivan Entertainment, 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: Randall Platt told CA: "I treat writing like any other job, except the time clock isn't on the wall of the lunchroom, it's in my own guilty conscience. While writing a novel or screenplay, I rise at 4:00 a.m., toast the sun when it decides to rise, work until noon, eat, nap, research, write easy stuff like grocery lists, bills, notes to my family. By 5:00, I'm on the handball court, earning my reputation as someone who never quits. Home by 9:00, food and bed. This has been a perfect day!
"I often wonder why I've chosen two of the most difficult areas in which to succeed: fiction and handball. It is curious to me how the mental seems to balance the physical—as though I couldn't do one without the other. Both these callings require a stubborn determination, a thick skin, and a foolhardy conceit that smiles at rejection and defeat, only to come back harder, better, smarter, stronger. I will also mention: I often trip on my own shoelaces, both in writing and in competition.
"When someone I've never met takes the time to write me about one of my books, I feel like I've come full circle with that work. I've connected with someone else's mind. We, the reader and I, for a few hours, have swapped lies, shared laughs, and lived together within a story. It is very exciting, almost sexy when you think about it—just the two of us, eavesdropping on the lives of my characters.
"All my books take place primarily in the Northwest. Not only are we told to write what and where we know about, we must also be practical. Research trips to Bora and Pago Pago get expensive. Walla Walla, Washington, is affordable off-season. In addition, should the truth get out, nowhere is the scenery most inspiring than in the Northwest Corner."
The author added: "As an ongoing project, I am compiling several adjunct dictionaries of American slang and euphemisms. These I use primarily to enhance my own writings, especially in the humorous western (Fe-As-Ko) series where slang and individual speech idiosyncrasies must remain consistent from book to book."
In her first book in the series, The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko, Platt features young ranch foreman Royal Leckner narrating the story of how he must train the recently-deceased rancher's retarded son, Levictus, how to run the ranch. When a trio of conspirators, including the sheriff, tries to take the ranch away, Leckner, Levictus, and a host of other improbable characters prepare to foil their plans. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "creates a convincing voice and point of view." The Royalscope Fe-As-Ko: A Novel finds Leck-ner and his family involved in the new motion picture business, where Leckner is mistaken for western silent film star William S. Hart. Calling the novel a "hilarious tale" in Publishers Weekly, the reviewer also noted that "the plot hits targets left and right." The 1898 Base-ball Fe-As-Ko features Leckner, who is now the manager of the Oregon Four Arrows Ranch, and his wife, Elijah Marie, as they become caught up in an exhibition baseball game that could cost them a sizable investment. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the book "has slapstick appeal and an underlying warmth."
Honor Bright is a stand-alone children's book that tells the story of Teddy, otherwise known as Theadora, and how a tragic Christmas accident killed her and her twin's father and baby sister. Susan Dove Lempke, writing in Booklist, noted that the author's prose is "forceful" and that she is successful in "sustaining a plot that develops and surprises."
Platt presents a coming-of-age story in The Cornerstone: A Novel. The story revolves around Ian McKenzie, who is spending the summer at camp during World War II, and the relationship he develops with a grumpy counselor named Andrew Ackerman. Noting that this type of story has been told many times before, Library Journal contributor Patrick Sullivan nevertheless commented that Platt "tells her story very well" and called the book "emotionally powerful and skillfully crafted." Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted that the author creates "a moving relationship between Ian and Ackerman that survives the ravages of forty-eight years."
The Likes of Me is about fourteen-year-old Cordelia, who falls in love with a logger in 1918 Washington state. An albino who is half white and half Chinese, Cordelia follows the young man to San Francisco, where she becomes a sideshow attraction and learns where her loyalties lie. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a satisfying story of self-acceptance." Michael Cart, writing in Booklist, noted "the sheer audacity of the story, and Cordelia's agreeable spunk and wit."
Platt told CA: "What first got me interested in writing was story problems in fourth grade arithmetic! Who cares how much change Susie will have after buying apples, bread and milk? What will she do with that change? What if she gets mugged on the way to the store? What if little Susie has a big gambling problem? I begin writing at four a.m., seven days a week. No one lives forever and there are a lot of stories in me yet to write.
"How a bunch of black ink strikes on a piece of paper can make a total stranger laugh or cry or perhaps pause to consider something totally out of his or her own experience is totally beyond me. What a miracle communication is! My favorite book is the one I am pas-sionately writing at the time. It's probably also the one that I hate the most—for writing can be agony and hard, hard work. Oh, how we all love a story that lingers, characters that stay with us long after we have finished the book!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Honor Bright, p. 1322; March 1, 2000, Michael Car, review of The Likes of Me, p. 1236.
Library Journal, September 1, 1998, Patrick Sullivan, review of The Cornerstone: A Novel, p. 217.
Publishers Weekly, April 12, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Four Arrows F-As-Ko, p. 43; April 28, 1997, review of The Royalscope Fe-As-Ko: A Novel, p. 50; October 5, 1998, review of The Cornerstone, p. 80; January 31, 2000, review of The Likes of Me, p. 108; March 13, 2000, review of The 1898 Base-Ball Fe-As-Ko, p. 63; May 14, 2001, review of The Likes of Me, p. 85.
Randall Platt Home Page, http://www.plattbooks.com (February 6, 2005).
Teenreads.com, http://teenreads.com/ (February 6, 2006), Lisa Marx, review of The Likes of Me.