Did you write a lot as a kid?
Yes. In fourth grade my teacher did a lot of creative writing with us and I loved it. In sixth grade, after reading a lot of Choose Your Own Adventure stories, I decided to write my own. My manuscript came to something like 70 pages, although most of the pages were just a paragraph long. I sent it to the publisher with a letter saying that kids might enjoy a Choose Your Own Adventure book if it was written by a kid himself. But the publisher didn’t like my idea and turned me down.
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
Well, really, I use everything from my life, the people I’ve known, and the things I’ve seen as inspiration. Not just my childhood. But when I write I do try to remember the stories I liked to read when I was young.
Where do you live now?
I live in Vienna, Austria, in Europe, near the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. The last places I lived in the US were New Orleans and Chicago.
Who are a couple of your favorite books?
Some of my favorite books for kids are:
M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Write stories with a group of other kids and read the stories to each other.