When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you? Yes! Bridge to Terabithia had a huge impact on me. I grew up on a little farm in the middle of nowhere and I really connected with Jess. But then I got to the end of the book and got so mad at Katherine Paterson for what she did to Leslie. I vowed to never read the book again and maybe even form an anti-Terabithia club or something. But I couldn’t stay away from that story for some reason. It had rooted itself in my heart and it wasn’t going anywhere.
2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you? Recently, I can’t get enough of Ronald L. Smith’s books. He writes the most wonderfully creepy stories and his latest, The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, has quickly become one of my most favorite books of all time. And it’s the one that inspired me to begin working on a spooky story of my own.
3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like? It’s positively glamorous. I’m talking fluffy fleecy robes, cereal in diamond-studded bowls with milk that has the little gold flakes in it, imported coffee, you name it. wakes up Oh, sorry, what was the question? My typical day? Got it. Well, I’m also a full-time teacher, so most of my day looks like me running around, making weird jokes and goofy faces, trying to make kids laugh while I teach them stuff. Which is odd because that’s also how I look when I write. I do that for one hour before I go to work. I have my cereal (normal bowl, normal milk), my coffee (it’s from Kroger), and a head full of ideas freshly plucked from dreamland.
4. Is there a newer or less known author you think kids should know about? Absolutely. Greg Howard should be on everyone’s to-read list. His first MG book, The Whispers, is positively phenomenal and he’s got a new MG coming out next year that is going to be so much fun!
5. What is a cool thing about being an author? Connecting with young readers will always be my absolute favorite thing about being an author. Emails, letters, drawings, all of it. And when I’m lucky enough to meet readers in real life? My smile practically wraps the whole way around my head. Which is scary. It scares people. Especially me.
6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold. Well, there are cupcakes. But that’s because I like cupcakes and I buy them sometimes. Mainly because being an author is hard. One thing every author faces is rejection. For every book we have out there, there are probably two or three (or more!) that never made it. Rejection stings. And when you’ve got anxiety like I have, sometimes that sting carries a bit of poison that soaks into your brain, infecting every thought you have about your writing. Sometimes it can feel like you’re sinking. But luckily I have the most amazing wife who is a pro at helping me stay afloat. And my agent is so relentlessly supportive. I’m very grateful to have them on my side.
7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic? You know those cheerleaders who toss the other cheerleaders into the air so they can do some amazing flip kick twist move? I think that’s my role. Not doing the flip kick twist move, but heaving others into the air so they can do it. I want to find those books my students need and show them off. I want to lift up those voices because, unfortunately, a lot of times they don’t get the attention they deserve.
8. If you could portal into any book which would it be? This is such a tough question! There are so many books I want to live inside. But if I had to pick just one, I guess I’d go with the Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series by Sayantani DasGupta. There’s so much magic and action and adventure. There are also plenty of monsters, but I know I’d be safe because Kiranmala is exceptionally good at kicking evil’s butt.
This book is cool because the girl ( strong female!) Desires to be and astronaut and go to Mars!
It’s also cool because her aunt who lives in PARIS is a scientist!
Her aunt sends a loooooot of boxes before she comes to the girls house and in a box is a robot!
The robot is a very intelligent bot and is the result of a date to make bot as curious as a kid. The bit helps the girl make her science project for the science fair because a he wants to win so she can go to the space center.
It teaches how to make a basic telescope through the story!
When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?
I love realistic fiction, so I read a lot of books by Judy Blume, Norma Klein, Paula Danziger, Beverly Cleary, Louise Fitzhugh, and E.L. Konigsberg. I also loved Daniel Pinkwater’s THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY, Sydney Taylor’s ALL OF A KIND FAMILY books, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A LITTLE PRINCESS. But my favorite book was then – and is still – E. B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB.
2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you? I am currently reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s SHOUT, which is a very powerful book. I also recently read two very funny picture books: HORSE MEETS DOG, by Elliott Kalan, illustrated by Tim Miller and THE GREAT INDOORS, by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Ruth Chan. Both definitely fall in the category of “books I wish I wrote”! And I recently finished Donna Gephart’s THE PARIS PROJECT, which comes out in the fall. I highly recommend it. Great characters, terrific voice, funny, and moving – you’ll love it.
(Bridget note: Super jealous! I can’t wait to read The Paris Project!)
3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like? I have two dogs so most days I run or walk with my dogs first thing, because it helps me focus (and helps them conk out so I can write). Then I hit my desk and write. I break for lunch and often I cook or read or daydream for a while before coming back to my desk to do some more writing or some editing of stuff that I’ve written. And on Friday afternoons, I go to Improv class!
4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about? I think kids should know about Alan Silberberg, who is my co-author on a top-secret book project. He is also the author of books including MILO, STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZE and MEET THE LATKES, both of which you should check out. He is a very good writer (and illustrator) and he is VERY funny.
5. What is a cool thing about being an author? I love doing school visits. It is fun to spend the day talking with kids about books and writing. And librarians are the best (and not just because they treat authors like rock stars!), so it is always cool for me to have the chance to pick their brains about books they love and books they wish existed.
6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.It’s NOT??!!! (Just kidding – I know it’s not). I find it hard when I get stuck. You know, when you’re writing and everything is going great and then you hit a wall. I usually try to take a break and work on something else, then come back when my brain is fresh. Often, the answer will come to me when I stop trying to force it. But I am an impatient person, so waiting is not easy for me
7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic? I am very excited to see so much diversity these days in books – in terms of characters, authors, topics, settings, and more (and to see all kinds of diversity – race/ethnicity/religion/gender/size/ability and much, much, more). It’s so important to hear from people whose experiences are different from yours, yet who might be more like you than you would imagine. Book access is also hugely important. For many years, I worked for First Book (www.firstbook.org), which is a national non-profit organization that has provided millions of books to kids. I’ve seen firsthand how book access can change lives.
8. If you could portal into any book which would it be? Harry Potter! Book One, specifically. My favorite Harry Potter is Book Four, but I wouldn’t want to be there for all the stressful parts. But, I’ll take the Hogwarts Express and a chocolate frog any day