Interview | MG Author Chris Grabenstein

In the past few months I’ve discovered an author that’s been around awhile, but that I’ve only just discovered. Since then, I’ve read multiple books by this middle grade author and can honestly say that he is my new favorite author.

Chris Grabenstein is a funny, interesting, and intelligent author from Buffalo, New York. He co-writes the I FUNNY, HOUSE OF ROBOTS, TREASURE HUNTERS, and JACKY HA-HA books with James Patterson, as well as writing many of his own, fabulous, works. My current favorite is a three way tie between Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, and Dr. Libris Library. You can find Mr. Grabenstein at Goodreads and at chrisgrabenstein.com.

I caught up with Chris this past week and he very kindly answered a few questions for me to pass along to you. So, without further ado, here is Author Chris Grabensteins Interview.

1) I stalked your Goodreads page and saw that Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library was inspired by a library in New York and that a 5th grader made the comment that got the ball rolling for Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, which are both amazing, but who did you base the characters on? And are YOU MR. Lemoncello?
The characters come from various sources.  Kyle Keeley, who is the third son in his family, is based on my memories of being the third son in my family.  The only time I could ever beat my big brothers was when we played board games.  Sierra Russell is based on every bookworm I’ve met on my numerous school visits (and seems to be a character that resonates with a lot of young readers and older ones, too!)  Miguel Fernandez is based on (and named after) a fifth grader I tutored at my church’s Homework Help program.   And, yes, Mr. Lemoncello is sort of based on me and also the late Jim Henson, whom I worked for back in the 1980s.   The wackiness comes from me.  The unbridled creativity coupled with a bajillion dollars comes from Mr. Henson.
I, like many of us, adore the late Jim Henson. This makes me love Lemoncello even more (which I didn’t know was possible)
2) Welcome to Wonderland, Home Sweet Motel is coming out October of 2016 and (on your website) features Roadside Americana. Was it a piece of that roadside Americana that prompted and inspired this story? If so, what piece started the journey?
WONDERLAND is based on my memories of visiting my grandmother every summer in St. Petersburg, Florida.  We’d pack up the car and hit the road, stopping at places like South Of The Border and Weeki Wachee Springs (mermaid shows!).   While staying at an extended stay motel in Michigan, helping my wife take care of her father, I remembered how much I used to LOVE staying in a motel when I was a kid.  Swimming pools!  Snack vending machines!  Toilets sanitized for my protection.   So, I wondered, what if I was a kid who LIVED in a motel!
I feel a road trip coming on!
3) You’ve written books across the age levels, is there any difference in your writing process when those age levels and genres change?
When writing for ages 8-12, I have to watch my language.  No, not that way (even though I do).  I have to be more aware of the vocabulary I am using and, if I use a word that may not be in a fifth graders lexicon, put it into a context where the meaning can be understood.  I also write for short attention spans because I have one, too, and get bored easily in the long descriptive paragraphs that most readers tend to skip anyway.
4) What IS your writing process? (I, personally, tend to be a pantser. Do you outline, meticulously write note cards, or just let the words flow?)
When I was writing one, maybe two, books a year I was definitely a pantser.   Now, as I attempt to write or coauthor 5-6 books every twelve months, I craft a very tight outline with all the major beats, twists, turns, etc. planted.  I find that my working on the outline for a week or two, I save a month or two one the back end with rewrites.
Maybe I should start working on finding the right kind of outline again…I gave up that search awhile ago but…saves a month or two on rewrites!
5) Do you have any superstitions or traditions that help you get more writing done and, if so, do those change depending on the story, age level, or genre?
No real superstitions.  Just a very boring, self-disciplined work ethic.
6) I’ve seen you give the advice to ‘write, write, write…’ and ‘give yourself permission to write a bad first draft.’ Do you have any other advice you’d like to give to aspiring (or already there) authors?
Follow Elmore Leonard’s TEN RULES FOR GOOD WRITING
Especially the last bit of advice:  “My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
7) Do you read Indie and/or self-published authors? What advice would you give them?
I must admit that I don’t have much experience with self-published books.  I have self-published a few e-titles of my own and have great respect for those who can make it work for them.  I don’t have the marketing/promotional energy to do it correctly.
He’s not kidding! I am a totally indie author at the moment and I never have that energy!
8) What books are on your reading pile right now?
Edward Eager’s KNIGHT’S CASTLE, HAMILTON, and UNDERGROUND AIRLINES.
Look, even Chris Grabenstein is reading Hamilton, I need to jump on that bandwagon.
9) Finally, in Dr. Libris the protagonist(s) find an island on a lake where story characters come to life. What character(s) would you most like to have come to life to spend a day with you? (yours and/or someone else’s)
Mr. Lemoncello. So he can tell me what happens next.
a) that means we’ll possibly be getting a 4th Lemoncello book (the 3rd is coming soon!)
b) he’d be on the top of my list too, along with Gandalf. I want to see Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Lemoncello hanging out.

Author Interview – Yasmine Hamdi

Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday’s Author Interviews! I very excited to introduce you to a talented teen author, Yasmine. Welcome Yasmine, let’s get started.

What name do you write under? Is this a pseudonym? Do you use more than one name when you write?

Yasmine Hamdi, my full name. I just use this one to write.

Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.

Tuesday morning actually, when I received an email from Amazon saying “Congratulations! Spirit of the Wind has been published…” It was exciting. I’ve always wanted to publish a book since I was 8 years old.

What genre(s) do you write in, and why?

MG, because it’s easier for me to write for a younger audience. I enjoy writing adventure stories the most.

What genres are your favorites to read? Why?

Young adult, because it’s my age level. I enjoy Adventure, Dystopian, Historical, some horror…

Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.

Kyrah Willis- I created her. She is just really determined to stand up for what she believes in, not letting anything stop her at the age of 12.

Tris Prior- Part of the famous Divergent series and created by Veronica Roth, Tris is intelligent, cunning and fearless. She cares for her family and friends and strives to fight for what is worth fighting for.

There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?

Definetly! I feel that most things will remain in my book because it’s only around 170 pages. I think it’d be incredible to see my work on screen, speak with the actors and gain a lot of publicity.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Taking a short break from writing and reading to get ideas.

What inspires you?

People who don’t give up, no matter how many times they’ve been knocked down. For example, J.K Rowling who was rejected countless times before her extraordinary success.

How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?

In my case actually, people are always impressed because I am fifteen. No one asks me what I do though. But when I get older, I think I’ll respond by saying, “I have a job that I love so much, I’ve never worked a day in my life”

Finally, tell us where to go to find you:

My Twitter

My Instagram

My Book 

Thank you everyone for joining us this week. Remember, if you would like to be featured in an interview you should let me know. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!lcover

Multi-genre authors search

HELP!!!!! I am in search of authors for my students to be able to research, discuss, and read in our writing class. I would like to do an author of the month every month (maybe two authors a month?) so that my students can learn about the world as seen through the eyes of authors and readers outside of their insulated environment.

However, I am trying to find an author that writes across genres for children or middle grade readers because we are learning more about genres this month. Does anyone have any ideas?

I need your help please! If you have any ideas for me, please leave a note or message me. If you don’t want to leave a note here, head over to http://www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes and catch me there.

Thank you in advance! Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Tyree Tomes Friday

WooHoo! Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree’s book o’ the week, Ministerial Musings, has surpassed the 200+ mark in this week’s giveaway! If you have not downloaded your free copy yet, please hurry. The giveaway ends at midnight tonight. Never fear though my friends, his new children’s book, Monsoon McKreel and the Rose, will be available for free download beginning Monday, May 19th!

Also beginning on Monday, May 19th, will be a three day give away for the third book in my Stone Dragon Saga, Dragon on the Green.

We are both constantly working on new articles, short stories, and books so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at Tyree Tomes for updates, debates, and big news from the Tyree family authors. We’re ten ‘likes’ away from someone winning a free hardback, personalized copy of one of our books. Hurry over so you can be in the running. And please don’t forget to tell us what you think about our books. Good or bad, all comments are appreciated….otherwise we can’t fix whatever isn’t working for you!

Have a Blessed Weekend!