21 Aug

In which I am interviewed by fourth graders from Graham Elementary

When I visited with the fourth graders at Graham Elementary here in Austin this past April, they followed up with many questions — and artwork. Such as this recreation of one of Don Tate’s illustrations in The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch:

cb-20160817-John Roy Lynch at desk cropped

That drawing of John Roy Lynch is just an example of the great stuff they sent. I believe I’m overdue in answering their questions. So…

Do you enjoy making children’s books?

Yes, I do. I think it’s the perfect job for me.

Do you like animals?

Not all of them, but I like a lot more animals than I dislike.

What inspired you to become an author?

My toddler son wanted me to tell him over and over the story of how I installed a smoke alarm in our house. I wrote that story down, and it was awful, but it got me going.

How long have you been writing?

Almost as long as I’ve been reading. The first story of mine that I know of is one that I wrote in second grade, “The Ozzie Bros. Meet the Monsters.”

Will you make chapter books?

I sure hope so. I’ve written a nonfiction book called Can I See Your I.D.? that had ten chapters, and I wrote a short story for a YA collection, and I hope that I will have more longer-than-a-picture-book fiction published.

How many books have you written?

88 Instruments, which was published just yesterday, is my tenth published book. I’ve written many more that have not been published.

Where do you get your ideas from?

All over. Things I see, things I read about, ideas that pop into my head while I’m running, suggestions from friends and editors — these are just some examples.

How old were you when you started to do books?

I was 29 when I realized I wanted to write books for kids, and almost 38 when my first book was published.

What inspired you to write the book “The Ozzie Bros. Meet the Monsters”?

Star Wars, the Muppets, and Abbott and Costello movies where they meet famous Hollywood monsters.

Do you have any books about your dog?

Not yet, but there are dogs in some of my manuscripts that sure remind me of Ernie.

Do you talk in a different language?

I’ve started relearning the Spanish that I began forgetting after my sophomore year in high school. Duolingo says I’m now 4% fluent.

Have you ever visited different countries?

I went to Mexico and Canada when I was growing up, and this past spring I traveled to Singapore to visit the Singapore American School. That trip included some time wandering around an airport in Qatar.

Have you been on tour?

Yes — to schools in Utah last December to celebrate my nonfiction book The Nutcracker Comes to America, and to cities in Texas and Oklahoma this past spring, in support of my book Mighty Truck.

Have you ever experienced difficult, frustrating times?

I sure have. I’ve been lucky to have family and friends to lean on during those times.

How many awards have you won?

I don’t know how many, but I can tell you the biggest: My first book, The Day-Glo Brothers, won a Sibert Honor from the American Library Association.

And that’s it! Thank you for the great questions, fourth graders — now FIFTH graders! — at Graham Elementary.

17 Sep

One Death, Nine Stories, the audiobook

One Death Nine Stories audio

It never occurred to me to add “Have short story performed by Dion Graham of The Wire” to my bucket list, but I think maybe I’ll do so now, just so I can cross it off.

Graham and Christina Traister both deliver vivid, meaningful readings of the stories in One Death, Nine Stories, one of which is my contribution, “Two-a-Days.” What a neat experience it was to hear my work read — performed — in that way the first time. And the second. And…

22 Aug

Bartography Express for August 2014, featuring Jennifer Holm’s new novel

This month, one subscriber to my Bartography Express newsletter will win a copy of The Fourteenth Goldfish (Random House), the new novel from Babymouse author and three-time Newbery Honoree Jennifer Holm.

If you’re not already receiving Bartography Express, click the image below for a look. If you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for the giveaway at the end of this week.

20140822 Bartography Express

25 Jun

Bigger than a book: my new, (no longer!) secret project

For the past few months, while working on getting my next few books written and revised and ready to greet the world, I’ve been plotting away behind the scenes on a secret project with Austin, Texas, independent bookseller BookPeople. In this month’s edition of my Bartography Express newsletter, I at last get to tell the world what BookPeople and I have been up to — a program we’re calling Modern First Library.

I’m also giving away a copy of The Great Greene Heist, the smart, engaging, fast-paced new middle-grade novel by Varian Johnson, to one subscriber to my newsletter. If you’re not already receiving it, click the image below for a look — if you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for the giveaway at the end of this week.

20140624 Bartography Express

20 Apr

One Death, Nine Stories (one of ’em mine)

One Death, Nine Stories official

The first thing I did upon hitting the exhibition hall at this month’s Texas Library Association conference was go straight to the Candlewick booth — not just because they produce great books in general, but because I wanted to grab an advance reader copy of one upcoming book in particular: One Death, Nine Stories.

Edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr., this YA anthology weaves together a collection of interrelated short stories (as did their previous collaboration, Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court). Contributors to One Death, Nine Stories include:

Charles himself
Nora Raleigh Baskin (Anything But Typical)
Marina Budhos (Sugar Changed the World)
Ellen Hopkins (Crank)
A.S. King (Ask the Passengers)
Torrey Maldonado (Secret Saturdays)
Will Weaver (Memory Boy)
Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer)
and me (Shark Vs. Train. No, wait — let’s say Can I See Your I.D.?)

One Death, Nine Stories will be published this August. My contribution, “Two-A-Days,” will be my first piece of fiction published for a YA audience. I loved the challenge, and I hope you’ll like the results.