Judy Blume’s new book might also be her last, the author tells PEOPLE.
In the Unlikely Event, out on June 2, was a passion project for Blume, who says she’s never felt inspiration strike her as keenly as it did before this novel, her first for adults in nearly two decades.
But after spending five years immersed in the complicated story, which takes as its backdrop a series of real-life plane crashes that occurred in late 1951 and early 1952 in Blume’s hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, the author says she might be ready to move on from writing altogether.
“I’m 77 and I’ve written a lot of books,” she tells PEOPLE in a phone interview. “I think I’ve said what I want to say, for the moment anyway.”
Blume adds: “I’m not saying I won’t write, but the intensity, the long hours, the 7 days a week, it’s a lot. I want to have some fun. Not that I don’t have fun, but I want to have more fun.”
For more on In the Unlikely Event and what kind of fun Blume is looking forward to having, read PEOPLE’s full interview with her below:
Why return to adult books now?
Because the story came to me. That’s how it happened. You get a story, you decide you want to write the book. It’s a big investment to decide to write a book. I have to be really excited about it. I was really excited about this when this came to me.
It seems like you’ve been working on this for a while.
It’s been five years. January 2009 is when the idea first came to me. Nothing has ever come to me in a flash that way. Never ever like this. And I would have never believed anybody if they’d told me that was going to happen. I used to read about people who’d say, ‘I dream my books and then I write them down.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, please.’ But the idea came to me with characters and plot and structure. It just came to me. I can’t answer why it came at that time.
Will your YA fans enjoy this novel?
There was no such thing as YA when I was writing, so I’ve never considered myself a YA writer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I have many younger friends who are very successful YA writers and I love them and encourage them and I’m proud of them, but that’s not for me. I’m happy for anybody to read my books because I don’t like books being characterized for certain readers.
What are your tips for those struggling with writer’s block?
I don’t go there. No such thing for me. There are good days and there are days where it doesn’t work and then you get up and walk away. I have the confidence now to know that when I come back tomorrow or when I come back in two hours, it will be better. And if it’s not, I know that there’s something wrong.
Of all of your books, which holds the most special place in your heart?
You know, every time I talk to a group of kids they ask me that question. I’ll tell you what I tell them: It’s like asking a mother what is your favorite child. One day it will be one, one day it will be another. It’s always the newest one, so right now In the Unlikely Event is very special to me. Also because I believe it’s my last long complicated novel written for adults. I said that after Summer Sisters too, but I mean it more now.
Well, I’m 77 and I’ve written a lot of books. This was five very intense years. I think I’ve said what I want to say, for the moment anyway.
But who knows how you’ll feel two years from now?
Well it’s a question of I don’t know if I want to go through this again. I’m not saying I won’t write, but the intensity, the long hours, the 7 days a week, it’s a lot. I want to have some fun. Not that I don’t have fun, but I want to have more fun.
What kind of fun?
Healthy, wholesome fun. I want more time with my husband!
More time for guilty pleasure reading?
I never feel guilty about reading! Why should I feel guilty about anything I read? That’s ridiculous. When you read, it should be a celebration. I don’t believe in guilty pleasure reading.
If you do write another book, is there any genre you’d love to tackle?
Am I’m longing to tackle anything? At the moment, no. I’m grateful to be done tackling this. I really am. I’m kind of euphoric.
You can also read PEOPLE’s review of Blume’s new book in this week’s issue, on newsstands now