Children’s writer Bruce Coville gives life advice in Quest keynote speech

Children’s author Bruce Coville, a 1973 graduate, spoke about how he found success in his Quest keynote speech in the Campus Center Auditorium.  (Andrew Pugliese | The Oswegonian)
Children’s author Bruce Coville, a 1973 graduate, spoke about how he found success in his Quest keynote speech in the Campus Center Auditorium. (Andrew Pugliese | The Oswegonian)

Bruce Coville, best-selling author, stepped away from his usual writing persona during his Quest day speech on Wednesday to discuss reality and the influence an individual can have each day.

“It’s a great honor,” Coville, a 1973 graduate of Oswego State, said. “I’m a fantasy writer but in my wildest dreams it didn’t occur to me that I would come in this position, given honors like this. It’s a wonderful surprise.”

Coville has written 102 books for children and young adults in his career, but for his speech, he turned the focus away from his works. Coville, in his speech titled “Ripples Become Waves: How What You Do Now May Mean More Than You Can Guess,” instead focused on how each person can do something in life to make an impact.

“I have found that one of the reason I think my speeches work is because I try to talk straight from the heart and sometimes I’m willing to do what some might call ‘sappy,’” Coville said. “My wife heard me speak once and said, ‘your mother got her wish. You’re a preacher.’”

One of the first bits of advice Coville shared was that the job of each person is to “keep kicking those doors open saying, ‘I can do this.’”

He spoke of a professor he had while attending Oswego State named Helen Buckley Simkewicz and how she gave him one of the greatest gifts he has every received by believing in him.

From there, Coville gave the audience a list of 12 pieces of “off the wall” advice, ranging from sillier things such as “marry rich” to more serious pieces such as “don’t be afraid to show your heart” and “embrace the unfinished chord.”

Coville captivated the audience with his passion for what he was saying as well as with the humor he added to a speech on a more thoughtful topic. He had the nearly-filled Campus Center auditorium fully engrossed with what he was saying right down to his final words, “may you cherish your work so when you go to heaven you don’t see a difference.”